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1 September 2010

Jennette Green explains some of the mysteries of Search Engine Optimization

Happy 1st September folks!  Today I am thrilled to be able to welcome Jennette Greene to my blog.to talk about Search Engine Optimization - a subject I know I certainly need to know more about.
First here's a little information about Jennette.  She says about herelf:

"Writing has always been a passion of mine. I wrote my first story over thirty years ago. Since then, I've written numerous stories and have had several articles published.My first love, however, is writing romance novels. I write both inspirational and edgy).

In October 2008, my first historical romance, The Commander’s Desire, was published by The Wild Rose Press. It has received numerous accolades, including a "Top Pick" rating from "Romance Reader at Heart" and numerous five star reviews. In addition, the hero of the novel was designated "Reader's Favorite Hero" for 2009 at a popular blog. Also, a Thai publisher has indicated interest in translating the book and publishing it in Thailand!

I am blessed with a wonderful, supportive husband, and three terrific children who put up with my crazy writing hours. When I am not writing, I love reading, photography, making videos, and creating and managing my websites."

Wow that's an impressive bio, Jennette. As well as being a talented author, Jennette is also something of a whiz when it comes to internet matters and today she's going to give us some useful and interesting information  on Search Engine Optimization.

HL: Over to you, Jennette:

J G: Search Engine Optimization is the holy grail for authors who own websites and blogs. We want to get traffic to our pages so we can communicate to the world or sell our books, but how do we get noticed? Specifically, how do we convince Google and other search engines to rank our pages higher than those of another website? The answer is search engine optimization (SEO).

Search engine optimization, at it's basic level, is fairly simple. It can also be far more complex than I'll get into here, but these tips are a great way to start, and with a little time and effort, any author can do them to improve her (or his) website or blog's page ranking. I will focus upon two topics in this article: Keywords and Quality Links.

Keywords are "Key"

Choosing the best keywords for your web pages or blog is vital to improving your site’s search engine optimization. It may help to first answer the following questions:

1. Who will visit your page and why?

2. What information are they looking for?

3. How does your web page meet their need?

You'll notice I'm saying web page, not website. This is because it is likely each page of your site will have a different purpose. For example, you may have a contact page, or a faq page. These pages will require different keywords, because their purpose is different than your main page or your product page.

Let's go back to the romance novel example. If you are selling paranormal romance novels, determine which page you would like your visitor to land upon. The first page? The paranormal product page? Remember, attention spans are short on the internet. If someone doesn’t find what she’s looking for on the first page she sees, she may click away to another site, or back to Google.

After you have decided which page you’d like your visitors to land on, then it is time to determine the best keywords for that particular page. Once you have found those keywords, sprinkle them liberally on the page (in context, please, and not enough to be annoying, of course), and include them in your page title, description and meta tags. More on this later.

Think about the product you want to sell. Say you have several inspirational romance novels to sell to sell. Brainstorm keyword ideas and write them down. Imagine you are a reader, looking for a fantastic new Christian romance novel to read. What keywords would you type into Google to find that wonderful book? Inspirational romance novel? Christian fiction? You get the idea. (And let's not forget about Google images. Later, I'll tell you how to use keywords with images, too.)

Now let's brainstorm to get a few more keyword ideas. Two wonderful sites for this are:

Google Insights for Search: http://www.google.com/insights/search/

Type in your keyword(s), and hit "Search." The keywords' popularity will be listed on the right side of the page (a blue bar under the word TOTALS). Related keywords are listed at the bottom of the page. These are additional ideas to add to your keyword brainstorming sheet.

Google Adwords: Keyword Tool: http://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

At the top of the page, under "Find Keywords," type in the keywords you would like to research, and hit "Search." A table will load up, full of information about your keywords, plus additional, related keywords. (You can delete any irrelevant words, if you wish.)

You can customize these columns by clicking on the tab "Columns." I like to look at the "Estimated Average CPC," "Competition" and "Global Monthly Searches." The local search columns can be helpful, too, depending upon your purposes. These columns convey a wealth of information. The "Competition" column tells you how popular that search term is. If the bar is completely green, the competition is high. By correlation, the "Global Monthly Search" level is also high (lots of people are searching for this term), and the "Estimated Ave. CPC" (CPC stands for cost per click in an Adwords campaign) is high, also.

While these highly competitive keywords might relate perfectly to your site, the competition is clearly fierce for those words. It will be easy to get lost in the crowd. While you can certainly use those keywords in your web page, you might want to focus more closely on different keywords—keywords with high relevance to your page, and less competition. The book "Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day," by Jennifer Grappone and Gradiva Couzin, (an excellent book, (an excellent book, by the way--I highly recommend it), advises website designers to choose keywords with the following attributes:

1. Lower Popularity and Higher Relevance (meaning the keywords are very relevant to your page)

2. Higher Competition along with Higher Relevance

If you'd like an Excel spreadsheet of the data you've found on the Adwords site, click the button at the top of the page that says "Previous Interface." It will allow you to export your findings to an Excel file, and download it to your computer.

By now you have a good number of possible keywords to use. I recommend using one last tool to narrow down your best keywords to a manageable handful of five to ten. To further determine your competition for keywords, go to http://www.google.com/. In the search box type: allintitle: YOUR KEYWORDS (obviously replacing “Your Keywords” with the first set of keywords you’d like to research) and click "search."

Google will tell you (in the line directly below the search box), exactly how many results (web pages) have your search terms in their title. Once again, a large number means you're competing against a whole lot of people. Keep in mind when choosing your keywords that while there are millions of fish in the sea, it's easy to drown in deep waters. On the other hand, a tidal pool may have only a few fish, but they are easier to catch.

After you've decided on your keywords, it's time to implement them into your site. Finally!

Plug your Keywords into Your Site

1. Use your keywords as often as possible in your page content (without being obnoxious about it). Especially include your keywords in headers. Search engines pay attention to bold or other emphasized text, and draw the conclusion that the content on your page is about the headlined text.

2. If you don’t maintain your website yourself, ask your website designer to put your best keywords into the html of your site. Put the best phrase in your title (place it between the two Title tags). Add your keywords to your Meta tags, and include them in your Meta description. NOTE: If you put the keywords in your title, meta tags and meta description, be sure those exact keywords are located in the actual text of your page. Title tags and Meta tags matter little if the search engines don't find the keywords in the actual content of your page.

3. Remember I said I'd explain how to optimize your images for SEO? It's easy. Include keywords within the alt tags of the photo's html. I like to put relevant keywords in both the short and long descriptions. This way when people search Google images and type in your keywords, your pictures can come up. Easy!


Get quality links coming into your site.

Quality links are an excellent way to improve your Google page rank. The best links are from websites which are similar to yours in subject. For example, if you are selling romance novels, links from other romance related sites will help you in two ways:

1) You may get customers clicking on the link and traveling from their site to yours, since their customers are looking for romance novels, and you offer romance books, and

2) When a search engine assesses the keywords in the linking site, it takes several factors into consideration to determine the quality of the link. In the romance book example we're talking about, Google will look at the site's keywords, determine that it is a romance novel site, and when it follows the link and discovers yours is a romance site also, it concludes that yours is a relevant site. It will reward the link accordingly. It helps if keywords relating to your site are imbedded in the host link. Such as Inspirational Romance Novels in this example.

By the way, the worst links are those coming from link farms. Google places no value on these links, and in fact, it is now believed by SEO experts that if the linking page/site is being penalized in some way by Google, that can negatively affect your own page ranking. Get quality links!!!


As I said in the beginning, search engine optimization is not hard, although it can be time consuming. In addition, many more steps can be taken to further optimize your website for the search engines, but the steps I've outlined are a great way to start. With a little time and effort, you can begin to make your website into the popular site you would like it to be.

Thank you so much Jennnette - I can see I have a lot to learn,  but this will be immensely helpful, and I'm sure there are many writers out there who will be glad to have some of the mystery explained. 

Let's finish off with a Blurb and Excerpt  from Jennette's latest release:

RELUCTANT BODYGUARD
by Jennette Green

 Blurb


Alexa's dream job becomes a threat to her life...

When English pop star Colin Radcliff asks Alexa to write his biography and tour with him in Europe, she's thrilled. It all seems like a fairy tale come true—until she begins to receive death threats.


To her dismay, Colin puts her under the 24/7 protection of his Italian chief bodyguard, Jamison Constanzo—a man with whom she’s clashed from day one. If only she could spend more time with her perfect man, Colin, rather than spending all of her days with this black-hearted thorn in her side!

Alexa struggles to control her flip attitude toward Jamison. Why does opening up her heart to him feel almost as dangerous as dealing with the stalker’s threats?

But when the killer strikes, Jamison is the only one she can turn to…


Excerpt

Alexa crossed to poke her head into Jamison’s room. He’d just unzipped a giant suitcase—black, of course—and draped a clump of black, button down shirts on the bed. Some looked to be made of cotton, others of a silkier material.

“Are you color blind?” she wanted to know.

He glanced up. “You’re here to help me unpack?”

“Of course not!” Alexa felt embarrassed, but didn’t retreat. “We need to hash out

rules so we can live in peace.”

He pulled out a pile of black pants. Some jeans, some slacks.


“Would you stop that?” she demanded. “I’m trying to have a serious conversation.”

“I can’t unpack at the same time?”

Alexa gritted her teeth. “I have no desire to see any of your black…unmentionables.”


An actual smile curled his lips, and he stopped pulling items from his suitcase.

“Then wait in the sitting area. I’ll be five minutes.”

Alexa narrowed her eyes. She didn’t want to stay here, but she didn’t want to retreat, either. And she wanted to assert her rules first—before the bodyguard had a chance to make a power grab. “I’ll make it snappy,” she said, averting her eyes as he pulled smaller black items from the suitcase and tucked them in the dresser. “I have one rule. You leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone.”

“Fine.” Jamison pulled a thick book from the bottomless suitcase and placed it on the bedside table. What was that? War and Peace? Certainly appropriate for their living situation.

“Well then,” Alexa said, pleased. “I’ll leave you to sort your outfits by color. I’m never sure—does black silk go with black cotton?” With this saucy comment, which likely sailed right over his unfashionable head, she turned to leave.

“I have a rule.”

Alexa turned back. She should have known her triumph had been too easy.

“You don’t leave this apartment without me.”

Alexa fell silent for one long beat, absorbing the full, horrifying implications of his statement. “Excuse me? I’m supposed to be chained to you night and day?”

“That’s what twenty-four/seven means.” He flipped the suitcase shut. The rasp of the zipper sounded like machine gun fire in the suddenly silent room. “If you want to run the stairs, I go with you. If you want to shop, I go with you. If you want to sight-see, I go with you. Think of me as your shadow.”

“Hence the black,” she said sarcastically. But further words evaded her. A sick feeling dropped into the pit of her stomach. She and Jamison, joined at the hip for almost five weeks? They couldn’t breathe the same air without fighting! Her fairy tale had officially transformed into a nightmare. She muttered, “We’re going to kill each other.”

“I promise I won’t kill you, princess. It’s not in my job description.” How could he look so amused?


Romance that touches the soul
http://www.jennettegreen.com/