I'm not a computer whizz kid. I grew up in a time before video recorders and, since my son left home some years ago, even that piece of technology has fallen out of favour. I'm afraid to admit I can't remember how to use it but, as a self published writer, I find myself being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the technical end of online book marketing. According to Google analytics, my website has been getting moderate traffic and the other day I proudly told someone that I had a 72% bounce rate only to have it explained to me that 72% of my sites visitors were leaving after viewing just one page. 'Have you optimised your site for search engines?' asked my educated friend. 'Of course,' I replied and hurriedly changed the subject.
It's true, I had used the search engine optimisation tool provided by wix.com, to add keywords when I built the website. I call them keywords but they were a few words I simply guessed were relevant to my site. My approach wasn't scientific or enough to raise the profile of my site in a crowded marketplace. I thought it was at the time and was waiting for the hordes of readers to flock to my site. It looked good. 'Built it and the people will come,' I read somewhere! They didn't, I shrugged, blamed the weather and thought about more interesting things like the next chapter in my next book.
This week I watched a video interview by Chris O'Bryne. Chris is President of a publishing company that designs and publishes books for business authors, coaches, speakers, novelists, and other creative giants. What he said stopped me in my tracks. In a nutshell, my idea of website optimisation for search engines was a total disaster. He didn't say that of course. He's never seen my website but his talk was very revealing and taught me some valuable lessons.
Chris' interview was primarily about how to search engine optimise your book on the Amazon website; something I had never even considered. His approach uses Google adword search to find the best keywords. This is what he suggests. Open a Google adword account and there is a handy keyword search tool that tells you what keywords people are using to search. Even better the tool tells you how many times a month each keyword is searched and, in case you want to pay for some advertising on Google, how much you would have to bid on Google to place your advert at the top of the page when that keyword is searched. Use of the tool is free - you don't have to buy the advertising. Suddenly, I could find out what keyword were being used to search and they were nothing like the keywords on my website. I'd made a fundamental mistake in assuming what the best keywords were.
The interview went on to explain how to leverage you book on Amazon by using Amazon's search engine as a keyword search tool and then incorporate those keywords in your title, subtitle, and, surprisingly to me, the book description where you have 4000 characters to play with and, as an author, plenty of room for creative keyword play. Since his talk, I've changed the title of my book 'Welsh Follies' to The Welsh Folly Book' because 'folly books' is a regular keyword expression, added a subtitle 'The stories of 60 strange buildings in Wales' because 'strange buildings' is frequently searched and rewritten the book description to include twenty seven prominent keywords. See if you can count them all. Book description. In case you're wondering, the description is rather longer than before and now runs to 3938 characters, pretty close to Amazon's limit. I've had to design and upload a new cover image but it's a small price to pay for improving the book's visibility. My tip of the Week, review your website keywords and how you are using Amazon's search engine to promote your book. Chris has written a great book explaining how it's done. Details here; my useful links page.
All that remains for me to do now is to repeat the exercise for 'Welsh Follies' sorry I meant 'The Welsh Folly Book' on my own website. Oh, and the little matter of my other books which all need sorting out. It's going to be a busy few days.