For the vast, vast majority of authors, search engine optimisation (SEO) is not needed.

Want to know if you need it? 

Run a search in icognito for ‘your name author’ or ‘novelist’ or ‘writer’. If your page shows up on page 1 (preferably spot 1, though goodreads, FB & amazon might show up higher); you’re good.

Do the same with your series names.

If they are all showing up on the first page, walk away and call it a day.

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

It’s the process of getting your website to show up page 1 (preferably the top search result) on a search engine for a specific search.

At a very, very basic level – Google and the other search engines look for pages that most suit the keyword (search terms) that are used. They rank them by how important and relevant they are and display them for users.

There are, last time I checked, over 2000+ factors that Google uses to determine a websites importance. This ranges from keyword density, domain name, incoming anchor text links, incoming link page importance, age of your domain, your host server and many, many more. 

No one knows all the factors. 

There are professionals out there paid a LOT of money to do SEO optimisation. On the right keywords, a 1st place ranking could earn you tens of thousands of dollars. A day.

Why don’t I need it?

If you’re an author, unless you’re really unlucky and/or really new; the chances are, you are going to need it because no one else is going to be using your name, with the term ‘author’ ‘writer’ etc. 

But, but, if I type just my name I don’t show up!

Yeah, so what? You might lose a few people but most will just refine the search. If someone is going so far as to search for you by name; they’re a fan. The vast majority of people will take the 5 seconds more to add a refining term to find you if they’ve gotten this far.

Secondly, search engine optimisation will get you higher on specific search terms. Now, sit down and THINK about the terms you are going to want too be listed on.

If you’re an author in fantasy, maybe (very maybe) you want to be the top search results when ‘epic fantasy author’ is written. But guess who has the first 5 spots – a dedicated fan website, barnesandnobles, goodreads, wikipedia and a bunch of mass news sites.

You could beat them, maybe. But you’d have to spend so much time and effort to get what? A marginal increase in sales (maybe!) because your website might not have the right content. Most likely, those other sites do.

By the time you spend all the time building up your website to rank high for generic terms, you could have written a couple of books. And guess which one is going to get you more money?

What are actual people who are going to buy your books going to search for?

– your name (+author / writer / etc.)

– your series name(s)

That’s really about it as far as I can think of. Unless you’re selling something other than your books (author services, book design, etc.); then mostly your fans are going to search for you by your name.

Are they going to search for ‘best fantasy books of 2020’ and find you? Even if they did, would they care / trust your site to give them information and thus buy your books? 

Yeah, didn’t think so.

You are MUCH better off writing your next book.

But what if I don’t rank at all for my own author site?

Okay, my guess is you’re fairly new. So…

Get onto Goodreads, Facebook, Amazon, Linkedin, verify yourself on Google and make sure all your author pages/etc link out to your site. Many retailers have portions where you can put information about yourself and a way to link in.

That’s it. Worse case scenario, at this point, 90% of you now have a place for fans to find your books (Goodreads, FB, Amazon, etc.).

The rest of you probably have something wonky on your site (verify your website with Google and make sure to run a check for viruses/etc.) or are just so new, you don’t have a lot of social proof or otherwise to show who you are. That’s fine. At this point, you’re probably so small it won’t matter. 

Write the next book and get more fans. The links and everything else will come.

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