Thursday, October 10, 2013

SEO and Self-Publishing Author Platforms - Two Helpful Sites

Just what do self-publishing and SEO have to do with each other? A lot it would seem. With the discovery that my author platform website had fallen off the charts in page ranking and had seen a decline in traffic, with a slump in sales to boot, I have recently been spending time researching yet another skill it seems the jack-of-all-trades self-publishing author must master, or at least develop some skill at.

Just what is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and why does it matter for my blog/website/author platform? The purpose of an author platform is to connect with readers, to build an audience for your work. If readers never find your author platform, the time and energy you have invested has been wasted and your books may never develop the readership they deserve.

SEO, according to Wikipedia's definition, is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users. 

In other words, it is the computer stuff that helps search engines find and rank your site. The higher the ranking, the better!
To make matters more challenging, the rules of SEO constantly seem to be changing. I even discovered it takes special computer tools to determine what the SEO of your site is.

There are lots of free tools available as SEO companies are willing to provide these tools in order for potential customers to learn their sites are in desperate need of SEO. Of course, these companies are willing to provide this service for a fee! 

Because SEO is forever changing and nobody but Google truly knows how Google and other search engines determine SEO, it is all a bit of a guess. 

I have found two tools though that have been more helpful than most because of the huge amount of information the results contain, providing you with a decent idea of what the search engines are looking for and how good, or bad, your SEO is.

The first tool, or site, I have found to be more helpful than most is SEOMastering.com.  This site provides a lot of interesting information, including where the physical location of the server hosting your site is located to the dollar amount your site is worth. It also provides a lot of information about factors search engines are interested in and displays the information in a variety of ways including over the life of your site.

The second tool I found that has been the most helpful is only free for 30 days. However, it gives an extremely detailed SEO analysis of the single page you enter to be analyzed and the information is so specific you can easily go back and edit the page or blog post according to the feedback and see your SEO score rise the next time you run the analysis. In fact, it even generates a "to do list" of all the SEO items you need to address to improve the results for the page or blog post you did the analysis for.  This has been extremely helpful! The site is SEOGroup.com.

Finally, if you have not already done so, you will need to install Google Analytics to your site. This tool takes a little bit of learning to be of value because you will have to learn what all the data being measured is, what it means, and how it can be used to improve your site, but it will be time well spent.