Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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August 19, 2015

5 Easy SEO Techniques that Rock Your Search Rankings

SEO for authors... It's a catchphrase that makes all my writing pals shudder. As one of our gals at WITS said, "I know how to spell it, but that's about all." SEO doesn't have to be hard. In fact, some of the best techniques are the easiest for writers, because they involve writing.

What is SEO?

Wikipedia says, "Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results - often referred to as "natural," "organic," or "earned" results."

What it really means to authors is:

  • How do I help people find me?
  • How do I stand out?
  • How do I get to Google's first page?

Because those are all the things that will help build your platform and sell books.

Good SEO can go really deep, down into the programming and structure of your website, but we're writers. We don't want to do all that. We just want to write. (Can I get loud cheer here?)

Here are 5 easy SEO methods you can use NOW

1. Research the keywords that apply to you.

Search engine optimization is rooted in keywords. But what about your words? You want to find the words that readers will use to search for you. Help your readers find you by tagging your posts and videos with 3-10 keywords that really describe you and your work.

Remember, you will almost always be at the top of the search results for keywords you create. That's a pretty big deal.

You can be on page 3 on search engine results for "great YA reads," or teach your readers how to search for you with your words. Words like your book title or your name. You're likely to be on page one with those. And yes, you have to already have a platform to do this.

Most people just piggyback off other people's keywords. You could spend hours looking these words up, but you can minimize the time spent by doing some brainstorming and mind mapping.


Or you might want to go the other direction and find out which key words will take you to readers.

Two ways to do this is by searching in Google (for “keyword” + “forum" or “keyword” + “board”) or going to a site like BoardReader that will search the boards for you.

SEO for Writers

BoardReader search for romance-focused book clubs.

Or try an advanced search if you'd like to get more specific.

SEO for writers

Backlinko, a site full of great SEO info, provides  a comprehensive article on keyword searching and ways to identify the key words that define your markets (called Niche Cloud Maps) if you want to study this in more depth.

2. Make your titles work for you.

Do you see that title up there? It starts with the entire point of this post: "Easy SEO Techniques." It ends with the other key point: "Search Rankings."

The easiest tip for great titles is to keep them direct and to the point and focused around your keywords. Amber Kemmis at SmartBug Media wrote a great article with SEO tips for titles that emphasizes "the big stuff":

  • The best link structure is short, descriptive and helps categorize your site. Did you know you can customize your URLs, especially in WordPress? It's a great way to help the search engines find you.
  • Put keywords or topics towards the front of the title. Whatever's first wins, at least for search engines.
  • Optimize Page Titles. SmartBug recommends you use title tags, which tell search engines and searchers about your page. "Since Google will only display between 50-60 characters in the title tag, you should keep title tags under 55 characters and try to drive people to click with compelling copy."
SEO for writers

A sample of optimizing your URL in WordPress.


3. Use a mobile-ready theme for your website or blog.

Okay, this point has the potential to be a bit technical, but I promise you -- it's worth it!

In 2014, almost 40 percent of organic search traffic was done on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. If your site's design isn't mobile-friendly, many searchers won't be back. If you aren't in charge of this, ask your web designer. If you are a DIY-er, be sure you pick a mobile-ready theme for all your marketing, whether it's your site or your email newsletter.

Neil Patel put up a great graphic to illustrate the importance of mobile-friendly sites in his article, Advanced SEO Techniques that Will Double Your Traffic.

Neil Patel_MobileBrowsers


4. Write descriptive mini-blog posts for your YouTube videos.

This was an excellent piece of advice from 21 Actionable SEO Techniques You Can Use Right Now that I LOVED. We're writers - we can rock this one!

Note: YouTube is owned by Google, another reason they run high in search rankings.

The article states:

Using 200+ words in your video's description will push you up the rankings for both YouTube and Google.

"Don't mindlessly toss a few words into the description box. Instead, [let Google] rely on your video’s text-based title and description to determine what your video is about. Not only does this extra text-based information help you rank better for your target keyword…it also ranks your video to any closely related long tail keywords."

Here's that author's guide to great SEO strategy for YouTube videos.


5. Create posts and pages with at least 1,000 words.

This requires more work on your part, but it is the reason why "slow bloggers" like Anne R. Allen and social media Jedi Kristen Lamb often crush the competition in terms of social sharing and backlinks to their blogs.

Yes, they are both great writers, but they also write long posts filled with useful information. Brian Dean at Backlinko says this about why long posts work.

"First off, long posts show Google that you’re providing in-depth information for searchers.

But that’s not all:

In-depth content flips an important emotional switch that pushes people to share online content: awe.

University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Jonah Berger found that content that elicited awe made people 30% more likely to share it."

I like that number, don't you? Long posts take more work, but they're worth it.


SEO is a huge subject for such a tiny little acronym, and things change constantly. In the past few months, the importance of Google AdWords has faded and new search engines are chomping at Google's heels.

According to Search Engine Watch, :

"Search engines like Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo may slowly take a bigger piece of Google’s pie in 2015. Yahoo is now the default search engine for Firefox. Safari had a deal with Google, which is supposed to end in 2015, and Yahoo and Bing are both trying to become the default search engine for the browser."

But we don't need to worry about all that right this moment. Right now, we just want to worry about these five tips that we can implement now.

(Plus, if you ask for it, I'm happy to write another post that shares several more easy SEO techniques for writers. I dig the world of SEO cuz I'm geeky like that.)

Do you have SEO questions you've been wondering about? Will you share any great (EASY) techniques that have worked for you? See you down in the comments!

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About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes news articles, humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.

28 comments on “5 Easy SEO Techniques that Rock Your Search Rankings”

  1. Oh. My. God. THIS is exactly what I was looking for (by the way, I'm the one who just knew how to spell SEO). Other articles spout terms, etc., they expect you already know (and I can't even spell them!) and my eyes glaze over.

    THIS gives me step by step instruction - that Backlinko article was really helpful - and I learned WTH Google's Keyword Planner was, and found new keywords that are good, and typed them into my website! Woo-hoo! Almost not painful!

    Just to give everyone an idea - I've written Romance so far, and I'm moving into Women's Fiction with my next three books. I wanted good keywords for that. As the Backlinko article suggested, the search terms I started with, sucked.

    I used:
    Emotional Read
    Women Changing
    Women's books

    Turns out what works best for me are:
    Women Empowerment books
    good books
    empowering women
    good fiction books

    Now I have to go research how mobile-friendly my site is (I suspect not much).

    Thank you, thank you, for this easy to follow guide, Jenny! I still don't know much, but I DO know how to do more than spell SEO!

    1. Laura, that makes me so happy! You know I wrote this article with you in mind. :-). I think you will get much more value out of your new long tail keywords.

      Now go change your YouTube video descriptions!

  2. Wow, Jenny, what an information-packed post! I know basic SEO (although I don't use it as well as I should), but there were tips in here I'd never heard of, and TONS of resources. Thanks so much for the quotes, tips, and links, and yes, we want more!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer (and Tabitha!) - I'm always studying on it because I like to geek out a bit, and also, I've been creating web pages for small businesses so I have to know as much as I can.

      I'll keep saving what I think is most useful for writers and do another post on it in the coming weeks. 🙂

  3. Incredible, but you make this whole behind-the-scene tech stuff seem easier. In my coding days I was way ahead of the curve, but when I gave that up, I became almost tech-averse as change outpaced my comfort zone, and I left dealing with the changes to my husband.

    I am committed to catching the train (though it may be the caboose!) and I know I have waaaay to much stuff to do for you to list here (and embarrass me!) but your tips help me feel like less of a know-nothing. Thanks!

    1. Fae, with WordPress on the scene, the back end of SEO and using mobile-ready themes isn't nearly as hard. Ditto with Constant Contact and MailChimp templates - they alert you to which ones are mobile-ready and you should only choose those. People read a ton of their stuff via their phones these days, so it really matters.

  4. Please, please tell us more! I teach fiction writing, and my students are always asking how to improve their platform. SEO usually makes their eyes glaze over, but you have made it understandable! BLESS YOU and THANK YOU!)

    1. Awesome to hear, Heather! I've been teaching tech for many years, so I understand about the "glazing over" factor. Feel free to direct them over here. We love writing students. 🙂

      I think writers have it made over a lot of other professions on the SEO front. Once we change our mind set and start gearing our titles, social media shares and site optimization toward better SEO, the great content part is so easy for us. We LIKE to write. Most small business owners don't.

  5. Thank you for this valuable information. I'm moving toward self-publishing and feel like a deer in the headlights when I think beyond finishing my manuscript.. I would love another post on this subject. My website is static. I'm still wondering what's a widget and so what if I write a blog. No one will see it. This helps ease my anxiety.

    1. I'm sitting next to you on the "Deer in Headlights" bus, Lori! When we started this blog four years ago, I thought, who will ever see it. Jenny is the reason you read this post!

      1. LOL...I am not the entire reason you read this post, Lori...there are several of us behind the scenes here at WITS. But the great content we all work for is what got our posts noticed, along with the loyal readers who share the posts widely. Content is king, and you need to put most of your energy there. If you do that, people will organically come to your site.

    2. Lori, some people do the books and then the platform, some go the other direction. When it's time to pay attention to your website, those widgets will help make it easy. Different themes have different widgets available - they are tools that do things. Like a Facebook widget hooks Facebook up to your site so people can Like your FB page in your sidebar. Or you might have a Twitter widget for the same thing. This is different than a plug-in, which is like adding on to what your existing theme can do.

      Does that make sense? 🙂

  6. Hey Jenny!
    My daughter works in digital marketing in SEO and Google analytics. Google keeps changing how search engines work to stay ahead of huge companies who pay to be on the first page. It has become challenging. One of their latest changes is hiding search terms in "unknown."

    One of my most searched posts is a 150 word flash fiction. Tags are super important in the WordPress reader, but not with SEOs these days, but you may be referring to something else.

    I'm curious to know how many views you're getting through SEOs a day on your own WordPress blog. I top out at 50 and would love to increase that number!
    Thanks for the info!

    1. Ooooh, hiding search terms in "unknown"... very tricky. When I'm talking about title tags, I'm talking about compelling titles to show up in searches.

      You are such a regular poster, with a blog that's been verified (as rockin') by all the search engines - I'd imagine you get all kinds of hits on shorter posts. 🙂

  7. I post two blogs twice a week and read that I needed to get my blogs up and running first before focusing on SEO optimization. It's been a year and I know it is time to start focusing on enhancing readership. This information helps and makes it easy to understand. I wish I had the information earlier but I suppose with the internet it is never too late to catch up. Thanks for sharing this information and for making it easy to understand with useful links. Penny

  8. I believe in information-rich posts but shy away from reading posts that seem to go on and on and on. A brief post with lots of information, that's my blogging goal.

  9. Thanks for this, Jenny. I'm on that Deer In The Headlights bus when it comes to understanding SEO, so the more information provided by geekxperts like you, the better. Just one of the many reasons we LOVE you! <3

  10. Jenny, you have just spoken my mind out through this blog. A thorough research of keywords helps to improve rankings of a website and this is easier when it comes to blog posts. Most writers are so passionate about writing that they fail to take interest in other aspects.

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