Benefits and Tip of Google+ Hangout for Authors

A.S. Chung B&WPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.

BENEFITS AND TIPS OF GOOGLE+ HANGOUTS FOR AUTHORS
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Google+ Hangouts

What is Google+ Hangouts?
Google+ Hangouts is a virtual communications platform that is mostly utilised for its video format.  As an author, you can create a private Hangout event whereby you can invite guests of up to 10 participants or you can be invited to join a Hangout.

What is Google+ Hangouts On Air?
Google+ Hangouts On Air is open to the public and anyone can view it as it happens live. Viewers do not have to participate. Upon conclusion of the event, it is automatically recorded and posted to your YouTube account as well as your Google+ account. This is a great way for authors who are not tech savvy to create videos that are easy to share across their social media platforms.

How Authors Can Use Google+ Hangouts To Their Benefit

  • Google+ Hangouts is a great way to showcase your book. This may come in the form of a book launch or a book club type event whereby you can discuss your book in detail.
  • You can invite your fans and readers to join you in a “get to know your author” type event whereby you invite them to ask any questions they may have of you. This enables a global reach and allows your fans to get to know you on a more personal level.
  • Authors can join writing group Hangouts to collect ideas during your writing process. It’s also a great way to get support from fellow authors should you have any issues or concerns you are having difficulty resolving.
  • You can engage with your fans during your entire writing process of your next book. Perhaps create a Hangout every month, after every chapter or when drafts of illustrations come in. Particularly great for those writing a series as fans are eagerly waiting for the next instalment.
  • Authors can use Google+ Hangouts as part of their book tours and virtual readings. Most authors don’t have the budget to do so or perhaps physically can’t get to towns and cities that require too much time or expense.
  • There is something to be said about getting to know someone personally. Well, at least this feature allows you to get one step closer to your fans and readers. This encourages loyalty, especially if they are able to identify with you.
  • The video component of the Google+ Hangout on Air is a very powerful marketing tool that can be utilised across all your digital marketing platforms and it didn’t even require you to produce your own video! Best of all, it’s completely free!

Tips On How To Run A Great Hangout

  • Test your event! Make sure all your equipment is available and that they are all in working order. Nothing worse than hosting an event and no one can see or hear you!
  • Make sure that you have a good internet connection and that your Hangout doesn’t stall half way or even cut out altogether.
  • Make sure you have a good background to work in with no distractions that could keep your participants wondering around the space. The more neutral and minimal a background, the better.
  • It is advised not to have pets or children in the vicinity of your Hangout. This is the best way for everyone to lose concentration if the event holder is continually interrupted.
  • Sound is very important, especially if creating a video for distribution later. Make sure your surrounds are quiet and you may even want to invest in an external microphone for further clarity.
  • Lighting is also important. Make sure participants are able to see you clearly without shadows to distract the Hangout.
  • The most important tip of all is of course to market the Hangout. No one will participate if they don’t know about it!

So, camera shy authors (that would be me!), do you believe this would be beneficial to you?

Google+ for Authors. Is It Worth It?

A.S. Chung B&WPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.

GOOGLE+ FOR AUTHORS. IS IT WORTH IT? Google Plus Logo
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What Exactly Is Google+? 
Google+ is Google’s social media platform.

Not Another Social Media Platform!
I know. It really is quite exhausting and admittedly I haven’t fully embraced this platform as yet. However, with over 340 million users, I think it’s worth a look in and we can then decide for ourselves if this should be added onto our repertoire of social media marketing, even if it means giving up another that isn’t quite receiving the traction.

How Does It Work? What Can It Do?

  • You can post photos, share content and update your status just like all social media platforms.
  • Google+ allows you to set up your followers by “circles”. This is a most useful function. You can group them into friends, colleagues etc…. and essentially group them in areas of interest which then allows you to target information more succinctly. Circles also allow you to read your feed by the stream you are connected with and share your updates with specific circles. This is particularly useful if you have very different types of content to share and therefore only certain followers will follow the thread of their interest.
  • You can create and/or join communities and concentrate your efforts on areas of importance.
  • Google+ offers a function called “hangouts” which is a space for video conversations for up to 10 participants. A great tool for webinars, conduting Q&As or connecting with your readers.
  • You can get +1s, which is the same as a Facebook “like”. This however is a much more powerful tick box as by hitting the +1 button, you are essentially voting me to your friends associated with your Google+ profile. It’s as if you are endorsing their content, which then leads to exposure for your book.

So What?
So far, sounds to me like any other social media platform.

However, the thing that got me the most is the fact that it’s a Google product. As the most used and most effective search engine in the world, it is therefore safe to assume that all Google+ content would gain some serious SEO traction. Surely, its algorithms would give their own social media function priority over everyone else’s? How else to better gain users? Posts with a lot of +1s have the potential to gain great momentum on the World Wide Web and can certainly affect search rankings.

There has also been much discussion about the fact that Google intends to consolidate all of its services under the Google+ umbrella. As an example, if you wish to post comments onto YouTube (A Google Company) you have to sign in with your Google+ profile. This meant that any level of anonymity was removed and thus reducing the amount of spam on the network. Should Google continue down this path of integration, we would pretty soon have no choice but to own a Google+ account.

My Take
So I started using it at a basic level and so far it’s been pretty easy to manipulate.  It has very similar functions to other platforms but certainly has a very different look and feel to it. It is very much like a microblog. I am far from being a heavy user and I am not about to give up one platform for the sake of giving this one a good go. A lot more work needs to go into this before I can say it’s a must have.

The only concern I have is I don’t know anyone who is a big user of Google+. It’s more a case of everyone understanding they should have it but no one is really interested in building their profiles like they do with other social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter.  So if no one is using it to their full potential, who would I be connecting with? A whole bunch of “surface” users just because they believe they should use it isn’t worth all my work. I shall do more research and see if it’s worth another post in the future.

10 Ways To Improve SEO Ranking

A.S. ChungPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.

10 WAYS TO IMPROVE SEO RANKINGS
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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SEO Keyboard

How to Search Engine Optimization by SEOPlanter

In yesterday’s blog post, I defined what a search engine was and the importance of Search Engine Optimisation. Today, I would like to highlight how we, as indie authors, can improve our SEO ranking.

1) CONTENT
Content is key. This does not mean however that mentioning the words “children’s picture book” a million times is enough to get to page 1. I can assure you, that is not the case. New, relevant and fresh content on a regular basis is the key driver. Ensure the content is original, free of errors and well organised.

2) URL
Ensure your prime product or keyword is in your URL. E.g. http://www.books.com/childrens-picture-books.

3) SOCIAL MEDIA
Ensure you have social media sharing buttons on your website or blog. The more places the book you have written appears on the Internet, the better. Sharing also means you and those kind enough to share, are spruiking the same message and thus inevitably using the same keywords.

4) TITLE TAGS
Create effective title tags that include your keywords. Hence all of my posting begin with “Online Book Marketing Tips”. These words will consistently appear on URLs.

5) CORRECT TARGET
When creating new content, write for your followers and readers, not for search engines. Otherwise, you won’t be naturally creating the kind of content search engines are looking for.

6) JOIN GOOGLE
Google rewards those who are part of the family. Join Google+ to get a shot at improving your rankings. Listing your business on Google Maps makes a difference too!

7) SITE MAPS
Create a site map for your website so one can see where everything on your website is located. You would be surprised how many people actually use site maps and search engines seem to like this extra piece of information.

8) HEADERS
Use your headers! Write a description under your website name.

9) BACKLINKS
Getting other websites or blogs to produce a link back to your own website is one of the best ways to increase ranking. It shows credibility and is to be encouraged. Be careful however not to spam other blogs by providing your own back link through comments. Google frowns upon this and can be more detrimental than anything else.

10) RESEARCH
Google autofills the most popular search terms. Find out what they are and incorporate those phrases onto your pages. Do it every so often to see what is trending.

Don’t underestimate what SEO can do for you! Its an imperative part of online marketing for any product or service. Some of the strategies above are not to difficult execute and with enough practise, will become a natural part of your work. Now, go get ’em!

How Do Search Engines Work And What Is SEO?

A.S. ChungPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.

HOW DO SEARCH ENGINES WORK AND WHAT IS SEO?
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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SEO Scrabble

SEO Scrabble by Jonathan Rolande

HOW DO SEARCH ENGINES WORK?
A search engine is a system that indexes information on the World Wide Web to allow everyday users find the data they are looking for.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Imagine the amount of information available on the Internet. If you were charged with the task of producing the most accurate data whenever anybody is looking for something, how would you do it? Where would you start? Which article, document or page would you grab first and why would you do that?

If I were the gate-keeper and you were looking for 4 inch stiletto heels made of patent leather, I wouldn’t be retrieving contact details for a plumber. For this not to happen however, some very clever people created algorithms that help to succinctly compartmentalise information. Common sense would prevail that these search engines would be looking for key words such as stiletto heels or patent leather. The next task they have to do is filter which pieces of information containing those keywords they should show you first. I would imagine that the one page that mentions stiletto heels 50 times would appear before the page that only mentions it 5 times. I just typed in stiletto heels and Google returned approximately 2,450,000 returns. Where would you be amongst that massive amount of data?

We take search engines for granted. You don’t even have to type your query into Google anymore! Just ask, literally! Google is as synonymous with search engines as Coca Cola is with soda. If I don’t know the answer to something, my 7 year old daughter tells me to “Google it”. The Internet and search engines have made our world so much smaller and if you want people to buy your books, you have capitalise on this online phenomenon.

WHAT IS SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It refers to the activity in which we engage in to try and organically improve our page rankings. How do I move from page 125 to page 1?

SEO is an essential part of ensuring your book is duly ranked when readers are looking to buy. It is about how we communicate to the web so that they can recommend you. The key word here is relevance. How relevant is your website/blog to the end user and what they are searching for?

Relevance is determined by the content of your website and search engines decide if it has suitable pages, titles and descriptions. It also looks at the performance of your website in terms of speed and ease of navigation. The number of link backs or citations is another big contributing factor to relevance, whilst retention rate of readers certainly also improves page rank.

SEO is highly complex and indie authors like you and me will never understand its full potential. We do however at a minimum need to understand what it means and how it works so that we can at least try to produce information that is SEO friendly.

In the next instalment, I will talk about how to improve your SEO.