You’re number one…or close to it! But you definitely want your author website to have a high ranking on search engines like Google—in other words, to appear at the very top of the list of results that a search engine compiles when a user does a search. But how can you, as a writer, make your website rank more highly, so that when a potential reader Googles terms like “books set in New York City” or “novels with strong female characters,” it’s your website that shows up first? Here are ten strategies that can help make your author website more visible in search engine results.
Get Your Author Website To Rank Higher With These 10 Tricks
1. Optimize your Web copy: Knowing how search engines read the text on your website—and then optimizing your website text so that it ranks high for specific keywords—is essential to getting noticed. Read more about this in our article: Author Website Copy: Five Essential Tips For Writing Web Text.
2. Make use of meta data: Meta data is a fancy way of saying “pieces of information.” On Web pages, meta data is most often seen in the form of “meta tags” which are used to describe the type of content existing on a given page. Adding meta tags and descriptions to posts and pages will help search engines more accurately index (or catalog) them, allowing them to appear higher on search results.
3. Tag images with ALT text: ALT text—or “alternative text”—is text that is shown when the element it describes cannot be shown. For example, if your Web browser cannot load a particular image, the image’s ALT text will appear instead (this may simply be the file name or a description of the image). Similar to meta descriptions, ALT text on images and other media helps search engines better understand what kind of content you’re serving on your author website.
4. Incorporate various kinds of media: Search engines love to see that you’re promoting fresh content that is relevant to your website’s subject matter, and visitors enjoy interactive and eye-catching media. Make a point of including pictures, videos, and even slideshows.
5. Increase traffic with social media: Use social media profiles like Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to your site! When search engines are deciding which websites to list first, they often use popularity as a gauge. For creative ways to drive traffic to your site’s pages, check out our social media tips.
6. Hyperlink keywords in your Web text: Search engines crawl (scan) your site’s pages for keywords to better index your site. By hyperlinking targeted keywords on your website’s pages to high-trafficked, relevant sites, search engines will have more reason to believe that your site offers high-quality information worthy of a higher rank.
7. Make use of Google Webmaster Tools: If you’re tech savvy, you might want to consider uploading your XML sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools. Your sitemap is a list of your website pages that is accessible to crawlers or users. When you upload your sitemap, Google can easily index every page and post that’s on your site, improving your odds of getting a higher ranking.
8. Streamline your site’s code: The written language that defines the way your site looks and functions is called “code,” and includes (but is not limited to) HTML, CSS, and PHP. Websites with superfluous or inconsistent code often experience longer load times. By keeping your code as short as possible, your pages will load faster and increase the likelihood that your visitors will stay on your site longer—which may help boost your search result ranking. Since search engines prioritize websites that are up-to-date and well-constructed, as opposed to those that are old, stale, and full of messy code, shortening your site’s code may be something you want to discuss with your website designer.
9. Make use of H1 and H2 tags: H tags help create the hierarchical structure of a Web page; they tell a browser that the Web copy within them should be regarded as headings. Search engines look at text labeled as headings very carefully, so make sure your post or page uses these tags in a meaningful way. For example, on the page that showcases your publication credits, you might consider having an H1 tag that reads “John Smith’s Publication Credits.”
10. Encourage engagement on pages and blog posts: Search engines like to see pages that have a lot of activity. By encouraging visitors to comment on your blog posts or engage in discussions on your site, you’ll send the message to search engines that your site is a place where users go for regular, quality content.
And The #1, Magic Bullet, Ace-In-The-Hole Trick For High Search Engine Rankings Is…
None of the above.
To be truly effective at achieving a higher search engine ranking, you must use all the strategies mentioned here—there is no one “magic bullet” trick. You can implement them one at a time, but ultimately, search engines will look at your website as a complete package, not a collection of parts. Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day! But with a little bit of smarts, these handy tips, and perseverance, you can see your author website ranking rise.
Photo by Carlos Luna
QUESTION: How do you optimize your website for search engines?