Entries Tagged 'Website Design' ↓

Give Your Site Some Google Juice

Google Juice // goo . gel . jooce
The magical and mysterious value Google gives to your site, based on links from good sites, unique content, and the age of your site. The more juice, the higher your site’s ranking in Google searches.

So how do you get some? Here are some tips:

  1. If you are on WordPress, install the All in One SEO Pack. If you’re a beginner, it even works right out of the box, easy as pie.
  2. Write a great summary. Your website (even if you’re not on WordPress using the All in One SEO pack) probably has a place for you to put in a summary. Write a great, to-the-point, 145-155 character summary of your site, using the keywords you really want to target.
  3. Use descriptive titles. Again, think about your keywords when you’re writing your titles. How do you want people to be able to find you?
  4. Create content! If you have a blog, churn out the content. I’m not sure if Google recognizes this, but people do, and you get more links if you churn out more content– and I know Google recognizes more links.

My Sonja Foust, Romance Author site currently ranks very well when searching for the phrase “romance author” on Google. It’s because I’ve been around a while, I use the All in One SEO Pack, I title my pages and posts descriptively, and I’ve used “romance author” in the title for my page and in my summary. So give it a try, and get yourself some Google Juice!

5 Marketing Resolutions You Should Make

1. Look at your analytics.

If you don’t have analytics installed on your website/blog, you’re doin’ it wrong! Get some Google Analytics or StatCounter, or whatever floats your boat– just get something! Then look at your data and make decisions on what to add and take out of your site, what to do to make your site easier, and where to try to get links, all based on your analytics data.

2. Research social media.

I’m not saying social media is necessarily the right thing for you to jump into, but you can’t deny that social media is the thing right now. You at least need to know what’s out there, how other authors are using it, and what might be the potential benefits for you. Then if you decide that it’s not worth it to dive into Twitter or Facebook, you will be making an informed decision.

3. Learn something new.

Marketing, and online marketing especially, is an ever-changing expertise. You won’t have any trouble finding a topic to learn more about. Make it a goal (and a regular habit) to learn something new about marketing.

4. Try something crazy.

Go waaaaay outside the box and do something really new and different. Put up a free read. Get a guest blogger. Share some photos. Anything, as long as it’s something you’ve never done before. It’s ok to try because you’re looking at your data, and if your idea bombs, you’ll know– and you might surprise yourself with a great result!

5. Make friends with someone who’s not an author.

Have lunch with a web designer. Chat with a developer. Find an analytics guru and buy them coffee. The people around you are your best resource for marketing ideas.

Do you have any new marketing goals for 2010? I’d love to hear what they are! Please share in the comments.

SEO Guide for the Rest of Us

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the webmaster world. Basically, SEO is a process by which you make your website more easily searchable by the big searchy types (Google, Yahoo, MSN) and get a better rank on those search results pages. SEO experts will have you believe that you need said experts to optimize your site for you or you are DOOMED to a crappy page rank and no search engine hits ever, so help them God.

That is not necessarily true. I know I’m going to have angry SEO experts sending me nasty emails for this, but I think Search Engine Optimization is largely a racket. You do not need an entire company to make your site searchable. You just don’t.

There are many things you can do on your own to make your site searchable, and, at the same time, make it a better site for your visitors.

So here’s Sonja’s SEO Guide for the Rest of Us:

Get someone to link to your homepage. A lot of times, that’s your publisher. If you have a profile on your publisher’s site, make sure it links back to your site. Once you are linked from another site, the search engines can automatically find you. This goes for all your other places on the web too. Have a MySpace page? Make sure you link back to your homepage. A blog? Same thing. A word of caution though: beware of big sites whose main purpose is a “link exchange.” If you are linked from a page a search engine has classified as a bad apple, it may actually hurt your page rank.

Put titles on your pages. Look at the top of your browser window right now and you will see a title in the bar at the very top that says Promo-Ho.com or Promo-Ho.com: SEO Guide for the Rest of Us. That is your title and it is very important. If you are using a blog platform, this is likely the blog title you submitted when you set yourself up for the first time. If you are designing a website, your editing program should have a title input space. Never leave that space blank! Be sure your title is concise and appropriate. For example, the title on my author page is Sonja Foust, Romance Author. If you have a particular genre you write in, you might use that instead: Jane Doe, Historical Romance Author, for example. Why are titles so important? This is the first thing people will see when they search for your site as the big, bold, linked piece of text. In addition, search engines look at titles first to judge the contents of your site.

Use as much text as you can. Some web designers love Flash (fancy animations) and graphics and lots of other fancy stuff, and that’s fine to an extent, but search engine “crawlers” (the little robots who circulate around the internet and read every website ever created) can’t read Flash and graphics. If you can make it work, your navigation menu should be text rather than graphics, or at least have an “alt” tag that matches the text of your graphic. (Your web designer will know what that means.) Use as much text as you can in the content of your pages too, rather than pictures, and when you do have pictures, don’t forget to descriptively “alt” tag them.

Have a clear navigation design. This will involve a menu running across the top or along the side of your page, most likely. Every page should be reachable from at least one static (unchanging) text link. Usually, that means the menu on each page should look exactly like the menus on all the other pages. If you have graphics in use for your menu bar, you may choose to do a duplication of your menu bar along the bottom as text, as I’ve done on my site.

Make your content good. Google says, “Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it” (Webmaster Guidelines). Your bio is a good place to do this. “My name is Jane Doe and I write historical romances with mysterious twists,” will do better than, “My name is Jane Doe and I’m a mother of three,” when someone searches for a historical mystery, for example.

Use meta tags. If you’re not a web designer and you have no idea what meta tags are, don’t run screaming yet. They’re pretty easy. Meta tags go in the head section of your document. You’ll have to look at the HTML code of your site, and then insert appropriate tags as explained at Google Help. Don’t fret, though. If this is something you don’t feel like tackling, it’s not the most important thing in the world, despite what some SEO experts will tell you.

If you can follow some or most of those simple guidelines, you’re well on your way to being searchable on the web. Good luck! As always, leave suggestions or other comments in the comments.

Matchy Matchy

If you’ve tackled the project of designing your website, and now are ready to integrate your blog, it’s not as challenging as it might sound.

If you have a domain name, you can even make your domain names match. In Blogger, there are instructions for getting your custom domain here: http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=55373&topic=12451 It includes setup instructions for a lot of common hosts, like GoDaddy. The advantage of doing this is that your blog address is now http://blog.yourname.com instead of http://yourname.blogspot.com.

After that, all you have to do is get your menu links from your website pointing the right places and then format your blog so that your menu bar matches your webpage menu bar. In Blogger you can customize the heck out of your template, so have fun and experiment. Sometimes it takes a few tries, but if you’ve already designed your website, the hard part is over.

Lots On Websites

Erica Ridley has put together a great series of articles on website design for authors.

Read the articles!

Smart Bitches Web Design

Smart Bitch Sarah, of Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books, has written a really helpful article on web design, with some ideas, tips, and examples I hadn’t seen before:

If the site is to promote an author, product product product front and center.

Read the article!

Pro Web Design

My friend and fellow author Leigh Barbour has written a great article on website design:

Being a web designer and webeditor by trade, I am amazed at how many writers have websites that are so hard to read and navigate.

Read the articles!

Web Resources For Authors

Author Alexandra Sokoloff has put up a great article on web resources for authors. She includes links for writing communities, professional organizations, email loops, blogs, and links on how to set up your own website and blog.

Read the article!

Websites for N00bs

Author Mandy Roth has a great article up on building websites for newbies. Check it out:

Q: I’m an author. Do I really need a website?

A: Yes. This will be one of your most powerful and affordable marketing tools. I know it can seem overwhelming at first but trust me, it’s worth it in the end…

Read the article!