Thursday, 3 May 2012

Park that pachyderm! Elephants, writers, readers and SEO

An extract from The New Author

At time of writing my blog page views have just passed 23,000. There was a time when I thought nobody was ever going to read my blog. Then I wrote a post about Compulsive Communication Syndrome (which isn’t a clinical condition, I made it up). The number of views on my blog increased dramatically. However, after a few weeks of feeling like I had actually written something that people from around the world were interested in, it came to light that 75% of my visitors were looking for pictures of elephants. Their average stay was just over 2 seconds. I had used a picture of elephants and an elephant joke in my post. Therein lies a lesson – a lot of people like elephants. If you can leverage your blog content to match topic popularity with the top interests of your potential readers then the traffic volume becomes much more meaningful. Therein lies a second lesson - I should write a novel with elephants (although they do tend to trample the keyboard).
The next breakthrough was when I took a family holiday and had to survive without internet for a week. I had started using a twitter tool called Hootsuite (more on that later) and what I did was to pre-schedule tweets during that week, pointing to blog posts that I had written in the previous months. The result was more than one hundred hits per day, every day, but half of them were still short-stay elephant hunters.

I was enjoying the blog traffic (a pointless obsession with numbers) but really wanted to up the quantity of hits from genuinely interested readers and writers. So I started to research SEO on the internet, made some changes, ran my pages through an SEO analyzer and tuned things up a bit. I managed to get a mention on the Smashwords blog and more traffic came to my blog from there.

The result is that my blog traffic is now predominantly viewing my posts rather than searching for elephant pictures. Visitors stay minutes rather than seconds and sometimes for more than an hour, moving from post to post and page to page. I get a feeling for whether folks are looking at my shop, either of my two book pages, my New Author post, the shop or the main blog page. 

The reason I shared this little insight of blog statistics is analytics are important. There are basic analytics built into most blog platforms that tell you the total number of views per post and page, the traffic sources (including referring URLs, referring sites and search keywords) and the geographical audience. You can set up your blog for deeper information through tools such as Google Analytics to gain a more in-depth understanding. Know your audience.

Search Engine Optimisation SEO for your blog / website

You’ve decided on your blog style, layout and content. Now you need to make sure that you’re getting found on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. SEO is the method of making your web presence easily found through giving it a high profile in search engines. Try typing Peril by Ruby Barnes into a search engine and scroll through the results. All the ebook marketplaces feature strongly in those results as they are designed in a way that promotes their products through SEO. I’m a self-confessed non-expert in SEO but there are some basic things you can do to optimise your search results. If you already know about SEO, html and meta tags then look away now! What follows is for beginners, which is the place I started from.

Your blog has a number of key places where search engines will index it against keywords. Some people may dispute this, but I know it’s correct because I’ve tested it with improbable search words.


Your actual on-page blog title is the main key to visibility. Include your brand and what you do e.g. Ruby Barnes - author. The blog will automatically embed your actual page title in the html code of your page and, within a few days, it will be found by search engine spider bots and indexed so that you come up in searches. If you’re determined to label your blog page with something other than your brand then the branded URL will still come up in search but not as the first line.


The automatic placement of your blog title in the html code can be further exploited. Go to the design page of your blog and click on edit html. After the code <head> you will see your blog title e.g. <title>Ruby Barnes - author, book reviewer, blogger</title>. Note that this contains the words book reviewer, blogger which don’t appear in my on-page title, but they do appear in the search engine result for my blog. This shows that you can have terms appear in the search engine that don’t have to appear on the blog page.

I also have the words Ruby Barnes writes thrillers, reviews books, sells ebooks and advises on novel writing, social media and ebook publication bounded by the code <meta content= and  name='description'/>. Those words appear on the third line of the search engine result although they don’t appear on my blog page.

So the search engine result looks like this:

Ruby Barnes - author, book reviewer, blogger
14 Jan 2012 – Ruby Barnes writes thrillers, reviews books, sells ebooks and advises on novel writing, social media and ebook publication.

The only words that are on the page are Ruby Barnes – author. The rest are meta tags embedded in the html code. 

Those are just the baby steps but it’s that easy. Except maybe you’ve chosen wording that no one is searching for. That’s another matter. One way SEO companies provide value is in their knowledge of which search terms will get results and whereabouts on your platform you should place those terms. There are seemingly limitless resources on the web for SEO. Type SEO Analyzer (yes, US spelling for a change) into Google and you will find various free tools that will analyse your web page from a search engine perspective. There are also lots of free SEO guides available on the web that will take you deeper into the art if you really want to go there.

Tags on your blog posts

When you’ve created a piece of content for your blog, don’t forget to add some suitable tags to it. Choose words that you would enter into a search engine if you wanted to find a post like the one you have written.

Text content of your blog posts

Search engines will also pick up words and phrases from your blog posts. Bear that in mind when blogging. Don’t miss a chance to mention your book or other authors. Try and use memorable hooks for your blog titles and closing sentences. For example, try typing tired old limes stand the test of time into Google. It’s the title of a post I wrote reviewing The Green Mile by Stephen King. You’ll see that the results are my blog and the next are places where my blog is syndicated to.

The above post is an extract from The New Author, a non-fiction self help guide for writers, social media marketers and self-publishers. Available in paperback and various ebook formats through a wide range of internet stores including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords et al (see Ruby's Shop for full details).

If you've enjoyed reading Ruby's blog then please sign up to Ruby's News for freebies, advance review copies of upcoming novels and occasional updates. Thanks!


  1. Thanks for the nice information this info is very useful to me.........

  2. Useful to me too, Ruby - thanks!

  3. @PRUDHVI and @Simon, glad it's useful for you. SEO is a bit of a black art!

  4. Yes SEO is the most need for social media businesses to run successfully. Nice informative post digital marketing. Thanks