In a meeting with my web designer recently, it was brought to my attention that most author sites need a complete makeover. It seems that most authors don’t put a lot of thought into what their website says, and are more concerned with how it looks. He recently revamped a site for one of my clients and besides the improvement in look and “slickness” factor, my web guy pointed out some very distinct changes that I thought I should share with you today.
Nine Ways To Improve Your Website
1. Websites have a hierarchy of headers. The top headers most directly affect search engines. You want “John Doe, mystery author” in your top header.
2. Include plenty of buzz words within the body of your home page. If your book is a cat cozy set in West Virginia, you want to use the words “cozy mystery”, “cat”, “west Virginia”, “fiction”, several times throughout your landing page. That way, when someone Googles “Cat Cozy”, your book pops up.
3. Including embedded links can also help people find your site. If you used to work for a radio station or write for a newspaper and include those things in your bio, embed links in the text. That way, if someone Googles, “Washington Post”, there’s a chance they’d stumble upon your site.
4. Sell yourself. So many websites are too modest, with no blurbs or buy buttons. The main purpose of you website is to sell books, so include rave reviews, blurbs, and other accolades that will make visitors want to buy.
5. Your website should be easy to use. I hate scrolling through endless script, reading tiny font, or having to click through multiple pages before finding contact information. Put up clear headers, organize pages in a way that makes sense, and make sure all the pertinent information is readily available.
6. Avoid too much flash. Sure, lots of sites look slick and have cool special effects, but for the lady in her sixties with an old apple from the eighties, it’s going to take forever to load. You want everyone to reach your site easily, and if it takes people too long to load it, they’ll most likely give up and go somewhere else.
7. Your website should be professional, yet, reflect your personality. This usually comes from having a good web designer; they can get a feel for your style and how you present yourself. Not all mystery writers are black backgrounds, although plenty of authors go that route. Don’t be afraid to put a bit of yourself into your site and utilize your palette. It’ll make your page stand out and help readers get a sense of who you are.
8. Have a domain name that makes sense. I registered www.DanaKaye.coma long time ago, before I even had a page to put up. I didn’t want someone taking my site. If you’re an aspiring writer, register your domain name now. It barely costs anything, and it’s better than someone else taking it later. If someone did take your name, do what some of these authors did: www.andrewgrantbooks.comor www.mike-atkinson.com. Don’t name the domain after your main character, you never know when you’ll want to write something else, and don’t use something witty and obscure. It just makes it more difficult for fans to find you.
9. Don’t forget to consistently update your site. You want readers to keep coming back, but if they know you never update, they won’t have a reason to. Include a “News” or “Updates” tab and post new appearances, reviews, etc. It will give people something new to read when they return.
Now, just for fun, I’ll leave you with one of the first drafts of my landing page. If the page was for something other than book publicity, I might have used it, but for my needs it just didn’t work.
But how awesome is this?