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.

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How Amazon’s Author Central Can Improve Your SEO

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.

HOW AMAZON’S AUTHOR CENTRAL CAN IMPROVE YOUR SEO
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A.S. Chung Amazon Author PageWell done! You have managed to list your book on Amazon and it is now available for sale. It would seem that for most self-published authors, this is the first port of call and it always brings about such a great sense of achievement when you finally see your book listed and is available all around the world.

Now, have you set up your author page?

It is quite amazing how many indie authors don’t utilise this free function or aren’t even aware of its existence. I was certainly guilty of it until a fellow author pointed out to me that I hadn’t uploaded mine. It is perhaps one of the most under-utilised marketing tools and one shouldn’t under-estimate its value. Some of the benefits of having an Amazon author page include:

Let Your Readers Get To Know You
The Amazon Author Central page enables readers to get to know you as an author. This small engagement brings some life to the book and can often encourage the reader to buy your book if they identify with you and your story.

Controlling You Profile
Amazon is a jungle. With more and more books being self-published on a daily basis, it is imperative to take advantage of any medium which may assist with increasing exposure. Taking full control of your Amazon profile helps to define you and your books in exactly the manner you wish to. You are also able to add more books to the list as you continue to launch new titles.

Keyword Searches on Amazon
Having a well-managed author profile will aid in keyword searches on the website and improve your Amazon and Google SEO.

Tracking Sales
Amazon Author Central provides free book tracking in terms of weekly sales, sales rank and author rank. This could certainly help you with your Amazon book marketing strategies if you understand when and where your books are being sold.

Getting More Followers
You are able to interface your blog postings and Twitter feeds onto the profile page so it is always showcasing your most up to date postings. Readers do enjoy seeing that the author is active in the social media world and any subsequent follows increases the author’s presence. This in turn leads to greater web presence and assists with search engine tools.

Reader Interaction
Author forums and discussions are also another free function of the program. This allows the author to interact with readers personally and is an invaluable capability.

Customer Reviews
All Amazon customer reviews for all your books may be found in one place and thus easily accessible.

The setup of the author page is a highly user-friendly process. Follow these steps for how to set up your profile page.

Author Page Tab

  1. Sign up for Amazon Author Central.
  2. Click on “edit biography” to add a biography of no more than 100 words. Amazon provides you with an example of a good biography.
  3. Click on “add a blog” if you have one so that the reader can see your real time updates.
  4. Click on “add event” to share your upcoming speaking engagements, bookstore appearances, and other events.
  5. Add up to 8 photos that will help to enhance your author profile.
  6. Add any relevant videos of interviews, book trailers, or book signings.
  7. Add Twitter account so your feed is included in your profile.

Amazon Author Central Author Page

Books Tab

  1. Click on “add book” to create your bibliography.
  2. Search by title, author or ISBN.
  3. Add any editorial reviews.
    a. Reviews should be from reputable sources and the source should be credited after the quotation.
    b. Quotes from outside reviews should follow “fair use” copyright guidelines.
    c. Limit of 1-2 sentence.
    d. Up to 600 characters.
  4. Add product description.
    a. An objective summary of the book subject matter and genre.
    b. Up to 4000 characters.
    c. Don’t include spoilers!
  5. Add something from the author.
    a. A message from you about this book – what was your experience writing it, why did you write this book and how does it relate to other books you’ve written?
    b. Up to 8000 characters.
  6. Add something from the inside flap.
    a. Content inside your book’s flap should be transcribed without any changes.
    b. Up to 8000 characters.
  7. Add something from the back cover.
    a. Content inside your book’s flap should be transcribed without any changes.
    b. Up to 8000 characters.
  8. Write something about the author.
    a. This section should be the same or similar to your biography as it would appear in a book.
    b. Up to 2000 characters.
  9. Make sure this information is copied across all available editions i.e. eBook, paperback and/or hardcover.

Amazon Author Central Book Page

And that is it! Important to update your profile over time as you change and evolve. Reminder that if you have books on amazon.uk, it is not an automatic update on that site; you would have to login and create a profile specifically for that site. If you are able to get your profile translated, you should also update your author central page for other large international Amazon sites such as France, Germany and Japan.

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
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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?
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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.