When we delivered Edwina Wyatt her brand new author website, she was rapt.
“Wohoo! Thanks so much! What clever people you are! Looks amazing!”
Edwina had commissioned her picture book’s illustrator Lucia Masciullo to create custom illustrations for her website. It was our job to convert them into a functioning website.
But then we got an email from Edwina.
“When will the site show up on Google when you search for my name?”
This is a common question. One that can help explain a bit about how Google ranking works, and what you can do to increase your ranking.
Without a presence in Google, an author website is like a deserted island in the middle of the ocean. Pretty Lonely.
My website isn’t showing up in Google
With the launch of her new book, Edwina was all too excited to get started on marketing. She googled her name hoping to see it in the search results. It wasn’t there. Quite understandable since there are quite a few Edwina Wyatts out there. So she got more specific and typed in ‘Edwina Wyatt author’. Still nothing.
It is safe to say that Google has become a part of our everyday lives.
Yet, few understand how Google ranks the world’s websites. Google’s ranking algorithm is top secret. Industry experts don't even know the exact formula.
How does Google’s search work?
How does google decide which web page to show? It asks questions:
- How many times does the page contain the keywords? In title, in URL?
- Is the page from a quality website?
- How many outside links point to it?
Check out Google’s short video that explains the process in more detail.
Getting your name on the map (Google’s index)
Edwina’s site was brand new. To get it into Google’s database, we need to inform Google that a beautiful new website has just been born.
Here’s how we did it.
Using Google’s Search Console we informed Google about the new site. Search Console is a free tool for webmasters to “talk to Google”.
With a direct line to Google, they can give us feedback, notify us of any errors, or even if the site’s been hacked :O
Step 1: On-page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
On-page factors cover elements on your web pages. The text and image content. The way that content and your site is constructed.
Our on-page SEO efforts involve methodically labelling all content so Google can not only find it, but understand it. A simple example is giving and image and ‘alt tag’. A description of what the picture is about.
Here’s what we did for Edwina and what you can do on your pages.
We updated the home page’s title from “Edwina Wyatt” to “Edwina Wyatt Australian Children’s Author”.
If we wanted to rank for other searches and get more specific, other options could be “Edwina Wyatt Australian children’s picture book author”.
It might seem logical to cram as many keywords in there as possible. But Google understands when you’re trying to game the system.
“Edwina Wyatt Author Books School Visits Together Always Buy Now”
Not only is this an example of keyword stuffing, it isn’t clear to Google (or a human reader) what this page is about.
Always make your page titles natural and human readable. To get specific, try to get your title to be 55 characters long.
Here’s a free Wordpress SEO plugin that does a lot of the work for you.
Step 2: Off-page SEO
Off-page factors cover activity that takes place on other websites. Links to your website, your guest posts, and social media.
Another way to help Edwina’s site rank better is through getting people to link to her website.
Search engines use links to determine where your website ranks.
Google considers links as a ‘popularity vote’ The more links to your site – or ‘votes’ – the more useful, valuable, and relevant Google thinks your page is.
Here’s what we did for Edwina's links and what you can do for your site.
Who’s already ranking for your name?
First we took a look at who’s already ranking on page 1 for “Edwina Wyatt author”.
- The top spot was Booktopia, a big and reputable site that sells Edwina’s book.
- The second result was Edwina’s agent, Margaret Kennedy Agency.
- At the fifth spot was Edwina’s publisher who was promoting the release of her book.
- At number nine was Edwina’s co-creator Lucia Masciullo on the picture book Together Always.
Three of these pages are people Edwina knows personally. These people would be more that happy to link to Edwina from their website.
Plus, these pages are already ranking on page 1 of Google for this search term. So to Google’s these pages have authority on the search term. A link from these guys, basically means the popular kids are voting for you.
[screenshot of ‘edwina wyatt author’ after]
A week after our SEO work, Edwina is now at the top of the rankings.
I should say I’ve simplified Edwina’s story to help explain how Google ranking works.
The keywords weren’t exactly competitive so Google would likely give some authority to Edwina’s own site eventually.
Edwina’s domain name – edwinawyatt.com.au – contains the keywords we were trying to rank for.
If Edwina wanted to take her online authority further, her next steps would be to expand the searches (keywords) she’d like to rank for.
Here are the steps to optimise your website for search engines:
- Determine a search term for each page of your site. Give each page of your site, one clear topic.
- Optimise the elements on the page, so the search term is in the page title, url, image alt tags, headings, and in the body copy itself. Just don’t over do it.
- Reach out to others to get links to your site. Has a blogger written a review for your book? Get them to add a link to your site from their review. Got an agent or publisher that can add a link? Write a guest post and link back to your website.
Need help with increasing your visibility in Google? Leave a comment below.
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