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What is SEO? Why Should You Care?

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is much more logical than you would think. I personally believe that authors should all be doing their own SEO, and that most of them have the potential to do an even better job than marketers. Let's talk about it!

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What is SEO? Why Should You Care?

  1. 1. WHAT IS SEO? Why do you care? Why should you be doing it yourself?
  2. 2. The overview: SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” ■ Just to boil it down “SEO” is really “the art and science of getting your website to appear in the search engines for certain keywords and phrases that you target. ■ In case “search engine optimization” sounds intimidating, just think of it as “supply and demand. ■ In other words, keywords and phrases are the “demand,” your words are the “supply.” ■ In my experience, it is FAR better, SEO-wise, to be a great writer rather than a super- technical person. Technical skills are easy to learn!
  3. 3. Step One: Do Keyword Research! ■ Free tools include: http://adwords.google.com (click on Keyword Planner), Market Samurai, https://ubersuggest.io/, http://MerchantWords.com, http://www.wordstream.com/keywords . Go to each one, play around with them, just to get the hang of what keyword research is about! ■ Paid tools include: http://kwfinder.com, http://semrush.com, and http://ahrefs.com. If you decide you love keyword research, go and check them out/ subscribe! ■ Be sure to note the search volume of each phrase, plus whether the research tool considers it to be “low, medium, or high” competition. You will need this information in later steps!
  4. 4. StepTwo: Make a keyword “package” that you will refer to often (very often) ■ Your keyword package will consist of an Excel spreadsheet filled with approximately 100 words and phrases (each one different!) that cover the depth and breadth of your subject. ■ Example: if your website/ blog is about barbeques, you will want to include the words “barbeque” as well as words and phrases like “grill, brush, marinade, how to barbeque chicken, how long to barbeque fish,” and so on. ■ If you are feeling really motivated, target keywords/ key phrases identified as “low” competition. ■ Keep this spreadsheet around and refer to it every time you write a blog post, post on social media, or choose a hashtag
  5. 5. ***Complicated PhraseAlert: Latent Semantic Indexing ■ Latent Semantic Indexing– this is the fancy SEO term for “using many words and phrases of similar context in the same website.” ■ If you are a writer, good news! This will come naturally to you. You already know how to use synonyms, and you know repeating yourself is boring to readers and is generally a bad thing. ■ If you are not a writer, you risk saying things like “When I am barbequing on a barbeque using barbeque tools for barbequing my barbequed meat, I like to wear a t- shirt that says “I love barbeque.” ■ Good news! Google (and the other search engines) LOVE it when you use synonyms and related (not repetitive) contextual terms. This makes you look like an expert!
  6. 6. StepThree: Write Something Great ■ Crack open your keyword spreadsheet (from StepTwo). Pick a phrase. Be inspired. Write a blog post about it, or a page on your website, or a social media post. ■ Use this piece of writing to provide value to your readers, to demonstrate to your readers (and to the search engines) that you are the best at what you’re talking about. THIS is what makes search engines rank your website (and keep it ranked) ■ Refer to the spreadsheet to try to use synonyms and contextually-relevant phrases (if they are organic to the piece). Do not force it! ■ Don’t be afraid to “go long.” 4,000 word articles are not uncommon these days and they rank really well in the search engines, believe it or not!
  7. 7. Step Four: Optimize ■ Get out your keyword research Excel spreadsheet (again!) and add keywords and phrases to theTitleTag, meta description, and meta keywords. ■ If you are usingWordpress, I like theWordpress plugin “All in One SEO Pack” because it lets you easily change your title tag, meta description, and meta-keywords. ■ If you are not using Wordpress and/ or have no idea how to get in to the back-end of your site and change these things, just make sure your post is solid and includes words and phrases. Quality writing is far superior to back-end shenanigans! ■ Go easy! Using 1,000,000 keywords in the back-end of your website is not going to get you noticed if your website/ blog is not high-quality.
  8. 8. Step Five: Share/ link ■ Get out your keyword research Excel spreadsheet (can you see a theme here?!). Use words and phrases in your hashtags and description when you share your piece on social media. ■ Use words and phrases in your comments when you comment on other people’s blogs (with a link to your post, of course!) ■ Use words and phrases when you mention your site/ post on forums to which you are already making expert contributions ■ The reason for this is EXTERNAL context– you are showing the search engines for which you would like your site to rank.
  9. 9. Steps Six, Seven, and Eight: Wait. Track. Repeat. ■ Getting search engines to notice “index” your site can be time-consuming. Be patient, and use the time to keep writing and sharing. Eventually you will get noticed! ■ Use a tracking service like MicroSite Masters, SerpBook, or SEMRush.com or aWordpress plugin likeWP Statistics. ■ If you are going to pay for a service, I would choose a solid tracking service even over a paid keyword research tool. ■ Why? Because there is no point to doing all of this work if you’re not going to track your results, plus you want to have some impressive results when you go out to get your first clients. ■ Once you know where you are, ranking-wise, “repeat” steps one through seven, adding more and more great, contextually-relevant content to your website.
  10. 10. Reminders ■ Remember to put email capture in place (for your mailing list), a call to action (like to buy your book, etc), and social media links on your website. You did all of that SEO work– don’t let your newly-interested person click away! ■ Do not sweat the search engine rankings. Focus on good writing with relevant words and phrases, and the rankings will come! ■ If you see an increase in traffic but not in book sales, email signups, phonecalls, or whatever your desired call to action is, start making changes to your website so that it converts better.
  11. 11. And now, a really shocking thing. ■ In the context of an author or a small business, paying for SEO is almost never cost- effective. YES, I DID JUST SAYTHAT OUT LOUD. ■ YOU (the author/ small business owner) are going to be much better at creating that search-engine friendly content (both on-page and off) than a marketing “expert” who is writing about 25 different things per day. Whose article wouldYOU rather read? ■ In the context of linking back to your site, it is always blatantly obvious when a person is not a writer or doesn’t have a grasp on the topic. People can spot this a mile away, and so can search engine “bots.” DOTHEWORK! It will pay off much more than paying an expert to build links and rank your site. Now that you know what these things mean, you are actually more of an expert!
  12. 12. And, in closing…. ■ Please learn to do your keyword research, optimization, and tracking yourself. Not only will this help you rank your author site and sell more books, but once you have mastered this, you can absolutely be a very effective SEO person. ■ DO NOT BE INTIDIMATED BYTHETECHNICAL STUFF! Remember, you have the one skill that matters most to the search engines– you are a talented writer. ■ Feel free to ask me questions, and share if you liked this presentation! ■ Thanks!

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