Most writers when they decide to dedicate their spare time fully to their career start by setting up blogs and websites. I tend to think of the blog like an online home and the website like the writer's online office. They're gorgeously decorated and people are invited to visit to have a nice blog reading experience. Writers want to provide the best possible environment for their potential readers and writing colleagues, but these visitors have to be able to find them. So, we often ask the question...
Does it really matter how high the page ranks in searches?I was asked this question earlier today after suggesting some interlinking with the other authors with Peevish Penman. It was suggested search engine rankings are highly technical and worrying about them doesn't improve a person's writing. That is true. So, does it just not matter then?
Different practices work for different writers and it should be said that writer is not hurt by having a low ranking page as long as they are comfortable directing individual visitors to their site through social media. When you first set up your blog or website, directing people to it is just like giving directions to your home. You invite the people. They come.
But... is it easier for people to find you if you rank higher? Yes. And a slightly higher than nil page ranking is like having a sign outside your door inviting strangers in, too. Most people will walk past. Some will stop and look at the window dressings, but eventually, if you are offering something they want, paying customers will meander on in.
My personal belief is that you should have a strategy for your website ranking that meets your needs and objectives as an author. I would like www.carriebaileybooks.com to be the first or second to come up when a friend or relative, no matter where they are located, decides to search for me. They shouldn't have to remember the name of my site specifically. They should be able to find it through a search for "carrie bailey" and any other word related to "writer." It's possible that maybe every once in a while they may want to recommend my writing or just let other people know what I am up to. I want to make that as easy as possible for them, especially since I'm all the way down in New Zealand, and they probably aren't going to call and risk waking me up for this information.
"Hey Carrie, I know it's 4am or 2pm or something over there, but what was the name of that zombie short story you wrote? I can't remember who published it."They won't make that call and I will miss connecting with these potential readers if my page ranks too low.
I don't mind if my author site doesn't rank very high, but I want it to rank high enough to be found. It was launched last month at www.carriebaileybooks.com and has three links to it. This blog, www.peevishpenman.com, with its ninety-five links between the blogspot address and the .com address, fluctuates around 5 millionth in popularity over all. Whoohoo! You can use Alexa.com to check your site's stats, too.
Later on in my career when I have more work published, I hope that my author page comes up in searches not just for my name, but for the writing niches I fill. I want people to find me by searching for stories about golems, reptilians, Ojibwe stories, cherubim riddles and New Zealand authors. And whatever else I decide to write in the future.
How can I achieve that without dedicating all of my time to manipulating my page rank at the expense of actually dedicating myself to writing well? By having the right blogging habits. The answer is to make page rank increasing habits part of your work rather than having them be the focus of extra work as a career author. Sure you can submit your page to a few web directories and keep the broken links fixed, blah blah blah, but in the end, it's having search engine rank friendly habits that will make a difference. Here's a few.
When you provide a link to your website in a comment on another website, your connectivity is increased and that affects your page ranking calculations. Unfortunately, this can be misused and spam comments are often just sad attempts at getting these easy links. Link when relevant only
When you guest post on other people's sites, include links in your bio information. Guest post because you care about what you are writing, but don't forget the link. Even if no one ever finds your site by clicking on it, it is still a lasting connection that is used to calculate your page rank by the temperamental page rank wizards whose mysterious calculations really can never be understood by mere mortals.
When you upload an image into your blog, give it a searchable name. For example, even if my photo is on my computer as 48028439.jpg before I upload it, I rename it. I am a bit lazy about this one. Mostly, I just name images of myself writer-carrie-bailey.jpg. But, I have this exquisite photo of New Zealand scenery on my New Zealand authors post that people find in image searches and then visit Peevish Penman to view it closer. Most of these visitors aren't interested in writing, but because that photo is popular, PPM receives two hundred visits per week for it and sometimes, just sometimes, that translates into real connections with people we wouldn't have met otherwise.
I wouldn't bother with attempting to increase the popularity of an author website through paid advertising, just for the sake of increasing traffic and visibility of an author website. However, I would pay for advertising a product being sold. Targeted advertising during a book launch to reach potential buyers or for specific paid services being offered can translate into real business transactions and have the side effect of increasing traffic and page rank.
I will admit that I've written one article which went viral. It was The 9 Parts of Speech and the F-word. Yes, the one time I used foul language is the most visited article on PPM. I've accepted that. However, part of the reason it went viral was because I used it to test out an advertising strategy. I did a $20 paid advertising run on Stumble Upon with it. It didn't return $20 in profits, but it did contribute substantially to our visibility in the long run.
If you are a bit tech savvy, offering badges is a great way to give a little gift to new bloggers who read your site. For the writers who add your badge to their page, it's a way to connect and show their appreciation for the sites they love and the authors. I used to have a range of badges for Peevish Penman, but currently I only offer one in the About Us page. New bloggers need to fill a little space on their pages and applying badges is a great way to learn how to use html objects, too.
The blogger awards are another variation on the badge system. You send them and you receive them, like "versatile blogger," which links you to them and them to you without the bloggers feeling scummy about sharing linkage love and ego stroking all around.
This is the PPM badge with a text display allowing the visitor to copy and paste it as an html object.
LINK TO US:
Author pages in general are not high traffic sites and, for most authors, they don't need to be. You may never have to visit Google analytics or webmaster tools. But to answer the question about whether authors should care about their website's page rank, the answer is that it helps, it doesn't hurt. So, don't make search engine optimization and link trading extra work, but do make it a conscious habit within the work you do online as an author already.
Here's the easiest ways to incorporate it into the things you already do.
Link to your older posts within your newer posts. I've done that four times in this article. I've linked to two pages and three posts. How does it help? I don't know, but the experts say it does and it is a minor habit to develop, which does help readers find older material that may interest them. And that goes back to your blog and website being your office or home. Give people a tour! You've spent time making your site a great place to be and a wonderful experience, show off the whole place, dust off those old articles and explain why you wrote them.
I realize that my search bar for PPM is mainly used by me to find my own old articles so I can link to them, but that's not a bad thing. Habits that increase your site's visibility should not require much effort and for me having that search bar on my web page makes it easy.
If you contribute to forums-I actually haven't done this yet-but, if you do, link to your site in your signature. Since I published a novelette last month, I have been visiting forums and discussing the topic of my book here and there. People tend to not like it when you come to their forum just to sell to them (note: this is a gross understatement). Advertising is almost always prohibited. Only because it's annoying and scummy, of course. However, linking to your site in your signature is fine. It's like leaving your card inconspicuously available just in case someone wants to get in touch.
Bad Ideas to Increase Your Page Rank
1. Join a link scheme - Google writes its magical formula to punish these guys. They're pretty obvious to identify by their tackiness.
2. Write articles for article mills - It just won't help. Sites that generate large amounts of horrible content are also written out of the Google equations. Yes, I tried a few at first...
3. Trade horrible posts - I've tried this, too. It really sucks the life out of your site if you trade posts with the blog zombies. They don't have anything to say. They're just writing for links and they will eat your brain while they are there and you will loathe writing forever more.
My advice: avoid them and don't become one.
P.S. Happy Halloween.
These tips will be incorporated into the Pathfinder reference information page if you want to return to find it later.
If you are in your first year of blogging and would like to directly trade links with PPM and other authors on your blog or website, just comment in the link below and we will mention your site with a link in a later post. We remember how hard it is to get started.