The ABC of SEO in 6 easy steps

Effective SEO will get you noticed on Google.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which basically means “How I get my blog post/webpage to show up on Google.” Having a website is essential to a writer, but what’s the point if your website isn’t noticed?

I’ve been writing blogs for a very long time, and reading about Social Media and blogging is something of a hobby, but every time I read about how important SEO was, my eyes glazed over.

My curiosity eventually got the best of me and I waded in. It was ugly. Tech talk, tech talk, and more tech talk. Finally, I broke through. I got it! It’s not hard. In fact, it’s kind of fun.

1. Keywords are the key to effective SEO.

Give some thought to what your keywords will be.

To find keywords that are most often searched for on Google, use Google Adwords.

Type in the keywords you’re thinking of using, and click. A chart will come up showing variations of your keywords, how often they are searched for on Google, and how high the competition is. It’s great if there are a million searches a day for your keywords, but not so great if there are ten million other listings.

A high search number and low competition is ideal. For this post, I decided simply on “SEO,” which has quite a high number of searches (673,000), and only medium competition.

Another useful tool, by the way, is Coschedule Headline Analyzer, because headlines are so important.

2. Use your SEO keywords in the first few sentences of your post. 

The closer to the beginning the better.

3. Make headlines in your post that contain your keywords. 

Not every headline, of course, but at least one.

4. Put at least one illustration in your post, and use the SEO keywords in the alternative text (“alt text”) description. 

This is so that Google will know what the illustration is about.

5. Use your SEO keywords a few more times throughout your post.

But don’t make it look forced. Content is key.

6. Before you press “publish,” make sure that your keywords are in your URL.

And that’s it! Other factors that help a blog post rank on Google—in addition to headlines and illustrations—are good content, links and short paragraphs, but the most important thing is your selection of keywords.

If you use WordPress, I highly recommend the plugin WordPress SEO by Team Yoast. It makes this process very easy.

I hope that this post didn’t make your eyes glaze over! Please leave a comment if this helped you, or if you have a tip to share.

Waving arms madly and giving lots away: how to have fun giving a reading

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Most of Thursday I prepared for a talk/reading in support of the Killaloe Public Library in my home town. I knew that many there would be friends and family, so I wanted it to be special.

Several times, I paused my talk to give out door prizes. This was so much fun, I’m a convert!

Doug De La Matter took some great shots! (I have more of them up on Flickr.)

Apparently I’m a bit expressive. ;-)

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Fun podcast interview with Tim Knox for “Interviewing Authors”

Podcast

I very much enjoyed being interviewed about my work by Tim Knox for his series “Interviewing Authors.” (Here is the link to the recording.)

 

Interviewing Authors is one of the Web’s premiere blog and podcast destinations that focuses on the process of creating, writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and selling an author’s work.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Tim made me feel very much at ease and asked informed writerly questions. It was a fun chat. I love “shop talk.”

I invested in a funny-looking ball of a USB mike for it, thinking that I might like to make podcasts of my own.

(Ya, in my spare time? Well … I just might!)

You may read a print transcript of the interview here.

What you don’t see in the transcript is all the laughter. (Tim got a chuckle out of my brief bio: born in Miami, raised in California, aged in Canada.  I should have added, “like Cheddar.”)

 


Links, for those of you who are reading this on a non-hotlink site:

Sandra Gulland: Bringing Josephine B. To Life

 

Highlights of my Shadow Queen book tour & blog hop … so far

actual NYTBR!

{Ad for The Shadow Queen in the New York Times Review of Books!}

Publication swirl: ups, downs, ups! A book tour entails a heady combination of fatigue and exhilaration. The challenge is not to come down with a cold. (Grrrrr.) Plus snow (!) today in Toronto, which I hope doesn’t affect the turnout at the reading tonight at A Novel Spot in Etobicoke.

My task today is to prepare for the talk/reading—my first full-on one. I never take this type of thing lightly. I think I have it basically plotted out, but I’ve not timed or honed it. That’s going to take time.

Plus, I need to get my talk printed out. This is surprisingly difficult on the road. I’m tempted to get a travel printer—but this would add to my already overly-bloated luggage.


Some guest blog posts I’ve written on my Blog Hop Tour:

Getting around to it—on why I became a writer, for Meg Waite Clayton’s blog.

Interview with Margaret Donsbach on HistoricalNovels.info. (Margaret asks great questions.)

The Page 69 Test: I love page 69 of The Shadow Queen. I plan to use this scene in my talk tonight.

What I’m reading now: Are you a Penelope Fitzgerald fan? I am!


I was pleased with this review from The Free-Lance Star: Real life characters inhabit intriguing story, which concludes: “A remarkably different and very interesting historical read.”

There have been some excellent reviews on Amazon.com that please me very much.

Highlights from the tour so far: 

• The woman in North Vancouver who named her daughter Josephine after reading the Trilogy. She had a beautiful book her daughter had made a drawing in, and she asked me to sign the page opposite. I wish I had taken a photo.

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• Moderator Jen Sookfong Lee at the “Enlivening the Past” panel in North Vancouver asking me if I’d brought my clown nose. (No, of course not—but it does  make me wonder if I could pull off a reading wearing it. Doubtful!)

• Dinner in North Vancouver with writers Mary Novik and Roberta Rich. Shop-talk pals!

• The best highlight from tour so far: seeing my daughter and her wonderful family in Toronto. The wee-ones are growing!

Moo + Photofunia = how a deadline-crazed historical novelist can wile/while away a few hours

One of the tasks associated with having a new book coming out is updating the contact cards one gives out to readers. (A book begins and ends with stationery.)

This time I decided to go with Moo cards. What’s special about Moo is that you can have a different image on the back of every card.

Here you see one card and a few of the images on the back, plus the Moo mini-cards (which I adore). 

Moo

Amazing! It’s very reasonable and the quality is high.  

I created the faux images using THE SHADOW QUEEN and other books covers and the free Photofunia app. Below are three of the seventeen images I used. (I posted all of them to Flickr—should you wish to see what Photofunia can do.)

Needless to say, I got carried away. Photofunia is so much … well: fun.

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And, on a final note, I had to go to Grammarist.com to see if I should wile away a few hours, or while them away. What’s your guess?

It turns out that “while” is historically correct, but that “wile,” although technically incorrect, is the more common usage now and has been accepted. See the explanation here.

(Don’t you love how you can ask the Net anything?)

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