Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to Promote Your New Book via SEO

casebook-sherlock-holmes (Photo credit: midwestjournal)

SEO isn't really all that different than content-marketing your book - it's attention to detail.

What people call SEO is a constantly moving target. Used to be meta-tags, then it was domain names, then it moved to articles, then social profiles, recently it was back-links, and now (not finally at all) it's moving to social signals.

All of this is based on how valuable people find your content - how helpful, how much it can or does change their lives for the better. Even if it's just distractive entertainment for awhile.

Because search engines work to parrot human activity. They sell ads based on how well they bring you content that you appreciate.

The kicker in this - which puts authors ahead, if they know and understand their audience - is that they've already created a bunch/stack/pile of content. Now it's just reformatting (porting) this content to different venues.

[Note on these links: while some are gratuitous backlinking to Wikipedia, and others are affiliate links to useful tools you can buy, others are examples of how I've applied these myself, so you can see how material can be simply used as part of content marketing to SEO-promote your books.]

What to know: it's not just one site anymore.

Most of SEO is building a particular site and getting it to rank. Which is fine, but that is so limited an approach that you'll wind up being buried time and again. Particularly if you are only working to get backlinks coming into your site.

1. Mini-networks work.
A strategy that works is to create a mini-net of sites, which all backlink to your main site. This tends to work, but is a lot of work. (And the secrets I tell you here remain secrets out in plain site because they are a lot of work. That's why you hire people to do this for you - or your agent does.)

These mini-nets can be composed of various social sites, such as blogs, Squidoo, Hubpages, etc. The trick is to find the ones which don't take a lot of work to produce. Following that is to not put the same or similar content on the same platform. You can have dozens of blogger, tumblr, or wordpress sites - they love that. But they don't love duplicate content and will shut down your blogs and ban you for life. (Which means a new email, but all your built-up reputation is washed away.)

Mini-nets can be a series of interlocking sites - which is more intensive/expensive work, since you are hosting these all. Building them on someone else's well-ranking platforms is cheaper, although individual sites on their own domain tend to rank better. (Currently doing a test of blogger blogs on a private domain - I'll let you know...)

2. Porting content into different formats works.
When you look at Google, you'll see video, images, news, presentations, documents, forums, etc. The trick is to get your content onto as many of these as possible and interlink them. Since Google is everywhere, you need to show up everywhere your niche is.

Of course, you start out by ensuring you have a site with a page for that book. That site-page also has  an email opt-in, as well as all the social media sites you use so they can follow and keep up with you.

Take a book chapter or synopsis and make a video out of it. (If you make a presentation and then a podcast, you have the elements of a video - and then have two more content types to use.) Ensure you post the transcript for that audio and include a link back to your site-page. Then embed that video on your site-page so people slow down to watch it when they visit your site.

Get or make a graphic (or several) for your book (called a cover) and post this on Flickr and Pinterest (ensuring to link back to your site-page for that book, right?)

Generate a text-format PDF and post it to doc-sharing sites. Yes, be sure it links back to your site-page, as well as to your video, audio, and social sites. (See how this is building?) Many of these places enable your embedding that PDF, or at least linking to it.

And, BTW, having books on Amazon, iTunes, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, and Lulu - this action is just an extension of porting your material as above. Notice that Amazon shows up great on the Google searches?

3. Social signals work - if you do them right.
Again, it's being there to help others. You are your brand. People who have studied this out say it's somewhere around 1 to 5 or 1 to 12 posts promoting your own stuff as opposed to finding and sharing other's stuff. If you use something like Storify, it's much simpler, as the whole story is built from recommending others' materials.

People voting for your stuff is key - what gets a lot of votes is popular, which is what people want to see in the search engines. So the SE's follow votes. Backlinks were the precursor to this, and are still valuable - since they tell Google where else your stuff is. As long as you are always talking about the same stuff, the same theme, then your stuff will make sense and Google will want to follow it.

Spend some time on Google+ at just plussing other's stuff. Add people who are interesting to you with what they post on their profiles. As you keep doing this - giving more than you expect to give, your own following starts ramping up. Twitter and the rest do this as well. Give more than you expect to get - way more. That's how this works. (Why Google+? Think about it - who's got the biggest search engine? On top of that, G+ is built on recommending content, not gossip. Go figure.)

Bookmarking used to be big, and still is pretty good (even after the spammers had their day.) You can get some decent work done with Onlywire - and you'll have to sign up for a few dozen sites for this to work. Again, the idea is to vote up 5 or 12 other's material everytime you vote up yours.

The more effective route is Synnd, which is a monthly expense and takes awhile to start paying for itself. But it's a distributed system for building social signals that works.

What about the old ways - articles, press releases?
They still work if they're cross-connected above. You can't just do articles these days and get anywhere near the results as being everywhere with your content. Press releases fade quickly, but still get their bang going for that short while.

Except for meta-tags, all the old SEO tricks and gimmicks still work. But not as well - unless you cross-tie them into your other web locations and content - and also link out and vote up others' related material as well.

The main point is to be true to your own personal theme, and keep building up that brand as you go. This is what gives you the trusted authority which Google rewards.

Oh - one last tool to turn you onto: Zemanta. This allows you to cross-connect your varied stuff more easily. This is what gives me the posts below, some of which are a year old, but still applicable.
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