Basic SEO for Writers

You might have already seen it somewhere, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is what helps your content ranking well in search engines. Furthermore, it is a marketing tool which allows you to get traffic to your website for free.

Writers, especially, should know a bit about SEO because it can help you to sell more books. Even on Amazon, you’ll encounter words such as “keywords” or “metadata”. And if you don’t know how to use it, you might not get as many sales as you should.

But let’s talk about Amazon later: I’m going to talk about your author website and how to get traffic. I won’t say more traffic because it always takes time, but a better one.

What is SEO?

Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu: those names are search engines. Their purpose is to crawl the web, to index websites and to show you the best relevant results when you’re looking for something.

You can influence those search engines by telling them correctly and accurately what your website is about. To that end, you’ll use SEO. But it englobes a lot of things. Let’s divide it into two parts:

  • Content Optimisation: As a writer, it’s usually what you can influence the most. By using the right keywords, you can create optimised content for your author website. But there are other things you can do: link building, titles, meta description, URLs, etc. Don’t worry, I’m talking about all that below.
  • Technical Optimisation: Except if you’re good with the technical side of things, you’ll usually ask someone else to do it. Technical SEO is all about what’s not content related: how long does it take to load a page, how many pages are indexed by search engines, how can you redirect a broken link, etc.

Attention: when looking at the search engine results page, be careful not to mix paid search and organic search. The latter is what interests us here because it’s SEO.

If you’re interested in paid search, I recommend the reading of this interesting article from Search Engine Land. It’ll explain the basics of PPC and paid search marketing.

Basic SEO for Writers: Title, Meta Description & Canonical Tag

When doing research about SEO for writers on Google, for example, the reader will find a list of potential good results. Here is what you’ll see for this specific article:

On this screenshot, the title appears in blue, the URL (or canonical tag) in green and the meta description in black.  There are a few rules to follow to create good ones:

  • Write a good title: Make sure to use your main keyword when writing your title, it’s helping search engines in knowing which page is about what. Also, try to keep it under 66 characters, so it’s not cropped in results. Because if the title is too long, it won’t be shown entirely.
  • Use your keyword in the URL: This link is your content’s home. The more it answers the reader’s research, the better. Try to be as organised as possible when choosing a URL, because search engines love organised websites.
  • Have a relevant meta description: Even if meta descriptions have less impact on SEO nowadays, it’s important to write a good one. Make sure to have a call to action (in our example: “Get to know”) and to repeat your keyword. Also, try to keep it under 156 characters for the same reason as the title.

And because I like you, here is a little website in which you can try on your title, URL and description if you’re not using Yoast for WordPress: Michael Costanzo’s SERP snippet preview. It won’t help you do your keyword research though. That will be the subject of a next blog post.

Do you use SEO for your author website?
Do not hesitate to tweet me @vdvestelle


This article is the first of a series of posts about SEO for Writers.
1. Basic SEO for Writers
2. More Basic SEO for Writers
And if you’re interested in how you can use SEO on Amazon:
What Is Metadata And How To Use It For Your eBook?

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