Rainy is on the blog today talking about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. SEO methods are aimed at getting high search result rankings for specific search terms. You've Googled your author name and your book titles, right? What are the first few links in the search results? I see a lot of authors who aren't optimizing their websites and blogs effectively for search engines, and it's a shame because it makes it difficult to find them--and sometimes their books--on the web. If you and your books are hard to find, you're probably missing out on sales, and possibly other less tangible things like interviews, industry connections, or fan mail. :)
About Ranking on Google
Everybody wants to rank high on Google it seems, but so few really know what it takes. Some companies prey on this lack of information by promising, or being enthused, that they can bring your website to the top. The truth is, no one can actually “make” Google rank you higher; they can only try.
Google uses an algorithm to decide how to rank pages. The algorithm is based on a variety of variables, each with different weights or value. That being said, Google does not actually reveal the specifics, to prevent it from being exploited. It also changes sometimes.
There are a few variables you can work with, which will help boost the ranking of your website. Or, at least, give it a fighting chance.
The date a domain is registered is one such variable. Basically, the longer a website is around, the more value Google will place on it. As well, for domains which are registered with a registrar (such as GoDaddy) instead of being a subdomain (such as Blogspot), the length of time before it expires is also a factor.
Another variable, perhaps with even more value, is how often the website is updated. Yep, Google watches that too. So those long stints of not posting to your blog? Bad for your ranking. So are spurts of posting and then ignoring it. Google likes consistency. So do your readers, by the way.
The next one is a bit tricky. Google likes back links. That is, it likes when other people link to you. This can be achieved by trading links with other websites, or leaving your link in comments, forums, directories, etc. However, there are a couple things to keep in mind about these linking activities:
First, they are only helpful if the website is “dofollow”. Many are not.
Second, Google does not like spammers. Posting your website all over the internet is counterproductive. When a lot of links go out at once, or in a short period of time, Google begins to frown. This is not good. Not to mention how upsetting that can be to your audience.
Linkage aside, Google is interested in authority. That is, the more you blog about a topic, the more authority you earn. All variables considered, more authority on a topic can earn you a higher place in Google search results.
Last but not least, you need clicks. Google likes to see people are visiting your site. That should be a given, but don't underestimate it. The busier your website is, the busier Google will help it to be. Definitely a bit cyclic, but that's the nature of the big, beastly Internet.
In the end, no one can tell you definitely what will make Google happy. But there are things which tickles it, and a few things which make it angry. Now that you know, see how many you can apply to your website. Just don't get too obsessed with it. Ranking takes time, and refreshing the search results page every hour isn't going to help.
What search terms brings up your website in the first three pages? What terms would you prefer?
When Rainy Kaye isn't plotting world domination, she enjoys coaching others about it on her blog http://www.rainyofthedark.com She also likes fluffy kittens.
Okay, I don't really write with scissors. But in this, the Summer of Revision, scissors are my new favorite revising tool.
I discovered that trying to do a major revision on a computer monitor just doesn't work for me. I need to be able to see more than what's in the viewable area of the screen. I need the BIG PICTURE. So I'm printing one chapter at a time--on actual paper! dead trees!--making notes on it, and cutting it up so I can physically remove parts and rearrange it. And it's going soooo much faster. There's just something about being able to take in the entire chapter in one sweeping glance.
Am I the only one who does this?
I expect I'll be relying on this paper and scissors method from now on.