Whether you plan to put your self-published books up for sale on your own website or on a popular book-selling platform like Kindle or Kobo, one of the most important things you can do is boost the visibility, also known as the discoverability, of your books online.
While there’s no way to optimize your actual book for search engines, you can optimize the pages that your books are posted on and the links that point to those pages in order to funnel more prospective buyers and increase their exposure.
Before we get into specifics, think about this simple truth…
The Way We Discover Books Has Changed Forever
Imagine walking into a book store and browsing for a book on a specific topic.
You’ll most likely walk to the section of the store that has the type of book you are looking for. For example a cook book, a science book or a literature book.
From there you would peruse the book shelf until you come across a topic that most closely matches the information you’re looking for. It may be a cook book about baking cakes, a science book about geology or a literature book based on space age science fiction.
For all of your time and effort, you would most likely end up with a book that closely meets your needs.
Now come back to reality for a moment and think about the way you would use the internet to conduct the same kind of book search.
Without an actual title already in mind, it is often very difficult to hone in on the perfect book that falls in line with the information you want.
On the other hand, if you learn and use the language of the internet and combine it with the way that the average internet user searches for information, you can position every book that you release prominently in front of an audience that is most likely to be interested in its content.
This language is known as Search Engine Optimization.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the practice of altering a website or single web page so that it is naturally more visible in a search engine’s results. These non-paid-for positions in the search engine are also known as ‘organic’ search results.
The goal of every Search Engine Optimization endeavor should be to get the pages that list your books and their buy links to appear as high up in the search engines as possible for certain keywords and phrases.
Accomplish this, and the result is a gradual increase in exposure, interest and eventually sales of your books.
How to Use Keywords to Optimize Book Search
If your goal is to optimize your book listings in order to get attention in the search engine result pages, it’s best that you start to think of keywords as the currency of the internet.
A keyword or a keyword phrase is any term that a searcher, or in your case a potential reader types into the search box in order to find the information they are looking for.
Let’s suppose you are a self-published author who focuses on creating specialty cook books and your latest title is all about creating flourless chocolate cakes and other gluten free desserts.
Someone searching for your book may not have any clue who you are or that you even have that cook book available for purchase online. What they do know is what kind information they’re looking for.
If this individual uses Google’s search bar, they may type in any one of the following terms:
Google then uses these keywords to find related websites, books and videos before returning web pages that deliver information that most closely matches what the searcher is looking for.
If you aren’t sure what kinds of keywords to include in your pages, try using a keyword tool like the free one provided by Google or one of the many other options available.
This gives you insight into the types of words searchers may input in order to find information related to the areas of interest you cover in your books.
The Power of Backlinks
Along with doing on-page optimization with specific keywords and keyword phrases, getting backlinks from relevant and related websites is another key to boosting your book’s visibility in the search engine results.
This is because Google and other search engines view them as a kind of thumbs up of approval from other websites.
With that said, it’s important to remember is quality is much more important than quantity.
Having one link from a highly reputable and relevant website is worth a thousand links from a spammy website.
Legitimate ways to get backlinks include:
Simply creating relevant and valuable content attracts links because it gets shared by your fans and picked up by various media outlets.
The key is not to force things and create a bunch of artificial backlinks, but to make your content so interesting that links come naturally. Over time you see a boost in your book page’s search engine rankings and a subsequent uptick in sales.
While doing things the organic way does take time and effort, the long-lasting results are more than worth it.
Blogging and Search Engine Optimization
As far as SEO goes, blogging can be one of the most productive activities you can do to increase the amount of natural search engine traffic that lands on your author website or on pages that feature your book titles.
Earlier, we mentioned the way that the average internet user searches for the information they want to find online.
They type a search term or phrase into the search bar and scroll through the results to see if they find a page that seems to reflect the type of content they want to read.
Posting to your blog on a regular basis is a simple and easy way to keep your website fresh and up-to-date with relevant information that your fans and readers want to know, as well as provide the search engines with pages of keywords that they can use to index your pages and direct web searchers to your website and book titles when they indicate an interest in certain topics.
Along with naturally occurring keywords and keyword phrases, blogs tend to attract attention from interested visitors, which leads to social sharing and SEO-boosting backlinks when the pages are shared with others.
Blogging is also a great way to bridge the gap for a complete stranger who lands on your sales page but isn’t sure whether or not they want to take the leap of faith and actually buy your book.
By giving them a taste of what you have to offer with review snippets, manuscript excerpts and by sprinkling a generous dash of your true personality throughout your blog, your prospect gets to know you and your work better which makes moving your book in their mind from a maybe to a must-have, that much easier.
The Bottom Line
Once you’ve written your manuscripts, you should never allow them to get lost in the vast ocean of the World Wide Web. By harnessing the power of Search Engine Optimization, you can position your book titles and brand prominently in internet users minds, by making them highly visibly and easy to discover!