The 2012 Cape Town Book Fair, held this weekend past, fizzed with digital delights. The book is not dead, it seems; it’s just moving increasingly onto screens and handsets across the globe.
During the trade session on Friday morning, I attended a seminar on website marketing by Paula Wynne, author of Pimp My Site. If you have a website, you need to know about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Which means...
1. Keywords are, er, key. When someone googles a product like yours, you want to be sure your website pops up at the top of their list. When someone who wants to write a novel or learn more about writing fiction searches for an online creative writing course, The Peacock Book Project should ideally come up as Number One in the Google rankings.
2. As seen above, long-tail keywords are best – in other words, a few relevant, specific words strung together to form phrases that best describe what you do. (In my case ‘online creative writing course’ and ‘write a novel’ and ‘write a book’) So I could link them up into a coherent sequence that might read, ‘Interested in writing a book? The Peacock Book Project is the world’s first online creative writing course to offer an actual template on which you can write your own novel.’ Use these long-tail keywords whenever you write something on the internet, and your Google ranking will climb.
3. Ensure these keywords feature in your website’s metadata – the description of your product or service that comes up under your website’s name during an internet search. Metadata encompasses your page title, alt tags, description and keywords. Insert your keywords into the metadata on each page of your site. Mine should read something like this:
Write a book with The Peacock Book Project.
An online creative writing course that teaches the art of fiction writing and helps you write your own novel.
4. Weave these keywords creatively throughout blog copy and another material you publish on the internet, including captions for photos and descriptions of YouTube film clips. You want tentacles extended into as many different internet arenas as possible, giving possible customers multiple ways to find your website.
5. Become a provider/publisher of content – content that will interest your market and drive them to your website.
6. Present yourself as an expert in your field, and offer analysis and comment on trends and developments related to your service or product. When journalists google a topic you’ve commented on, your name and credentials will link you up with them. In my case, I’d say, ‘Catriona Ross, author and developer of The Peacock Book Project, is passionate about self-development, creative writing and online education.’
7. Link your website and blog copy to good quality links, such as newspaper and magazine names (where relevant to your site/service). If you’ve had a write-up in the Sunday Times, or been featured in a magazine such as Woman and Home, these links are valuable: Google spots the reputable brand name, and bumps up your website’s ranking.
8. Never write ‘click here to read XXXX’, says Paula. Rather use a long-tailed keyword and hyperlink that takes readers to other pages from your website. So, in my case, I wrote an article for Woman & Home on how I had a dream of writing a novel from a wine farm.
9. Market yourself online. Do a little bit everyday, even if it’s just a tweet.
10. Make sure you’re putting high-quality content out there, in relevant places. My market is writers and novelists, so writing forums are a good place to start.
So I have a few items on my www.peacockproject.net To Do List. As for the elderly gentleman who attended the seminar, about to launch a website for his Afrikaans translations of Shakespeare’s works, and artist Heidi de Freitas, who’s going to unveil a website for international painting sales with the help of her tech-savvy teenage daughter, good luck!