When you want to grow your book blog and find your audience, Google and other search engines can send you exactly the right kind of traffic. In this post, I want to show you how to get started with SEO (which stands for Search Engine Optimization), or: How people will be able to find your book blog on Google!
**The marked links and book covers on this page are affiliate links. If you use them to purchase something, I earn a fee at no additional cost for you. Disclosure**
Social Media traffic vs. Search Engine traffic
The first question is: Is it even worth it for hobby bloggers to invest time and effort into SEO?
Chances are you’ve experienced the same thing as me: I publish a book list, put it on Twitter and Facebook, and get a bunch of views. Awesome! And the next day or two days later, I only have 10% of the views from the day I posted. Bummer!
Obviously, social media is a great way to promote your blog. People find your post, read it, maybe follow your blog, maybe share your post. But it’s also very short-lived. The next day, your Twitter or Facebook post is buried. You have to write new social media posts in the hopes of reaching more people without spamming them.
You have to actively keep doing things (namely, posting on Twitter or Facebook). Otherwise, no one will visit your 2-day old awesome blog post anymore which would be a real shame.
The beauty of search engine traffic is that it’s passive. It doesn’t matter much when you published your blog post. If it fits someone’s search and it ranks high enough, they’ll visit your blog to find an answer to
So, let’s establish at this point that search engine traffic is a great thing to have. Everybody loves internet searches. Why not let Google bring new readers to your book blog?! Let’s get to the How…
What optimizing your blog means…
Maybe you’re blogging just for fun. All you want is to write about books you love and meet other people who love to read. And you think all these optimization things only matter for people who want to blog as a career.
But the content you create has value. It’s awesome, you put effort into it, and you’ve decided to share it with the world. It’s worth it to help the world find it! SEO is so great for hobby blogs because, for the same or a better outcome, it doesn’t even take as much time and effort as actively promoting on social media. While you’re reading books, people can find your website and fall in love with your favorite stories. So, consider investing those few extra minutes to optimize your blog and help people find your book blog on Google.
Now, the longer your blog is around and the more posts you have, the more traffic you will get from search engines naturally. But you don’t just have to wait for your blog to get older. You can also actively do a few easy things to get more visitors from Google or Bing.
Optimize your blog in 3 steps!
To get started on optimizing your book blog for Google, start with these easy steps. If you aren’t self-hosted, you won’t be able to install a plugin in step 1, but still get your free blog in great shape in case you want to go self-hosted and monetize in the future.
Step 1: Grab a WordPress plugin
Yoast SEO is a must-have WordPress plugin if you’re self-hosted. You simply install it like any other WP plugin. And all it does is being a guide. It gives you helpful pointers to optimize your blog post so Google likes it better. That’s a big deal though!
At first, when I read about Yoast, I couldn’t imagine that it would make much of a difference. Since it doesn’t exactly go to Google and tell them that my book reviews are awesomesauce. But believe me, it makes a world of a difference!
Yoast tells you how to improve the readability of your post, for example by making sentences and paragraphs shorter and using more headlines. And it asks you to pick a keyword for your post and then helps you to optimize your post for that keyword.
The Keyword is the most likely search term people would use who’d want to find your blog post. So this is something you should always think about. Who’d be interested in reading this post and what are the most likely words they’d type into Google?
Related article: Keywords are also important for Pinterest success!
For book reviews, I usually use the author’s name or the title of the book series as keywords. Yoast then tells me whether I used the term often enough – but not too often – and if I used it in my image descriptions. It gives a list of points that help improve the impression Google will get
Step 2: Optimize your Book Blog
You can (and should) also optimize your website as a whole, no just the individual blog posts. The Website SEO Checker from SEOReviewTools is a handy free tool to find out how happy Google is with your website.
Based on the results, you can make a few small tweaks to your blog that will be a big deal for Google. For example, having the right length and keywords in your title tag (which you can change in WordPress > Settings > General) or meta description (which you can change in Yoast).
Google always strives to give people the best results for their search. So they filter out websites that seem spammy or badly maintained and instead favor websites that seem like they offer quality content. Google judges this by the number of backlinks, social shares, or times people click your website search result.
Step 3: Learning Keyword research
We all know that book blogging – for most of us – isn’t only about writing book reviews. But sometimes I find it tricky to come up with something I feel like writing about and that people would want to read. Or I have a general idea for a blog post but can’t find an angle.
That’s the beauty of keyword research. It doesn’t only help your posts to be seen, it also helps you with great blog post ideas!
The questions to keep in mind for keyword research are: What would people search for who’d be thrilled to read my post? Which words would they use to describe this thing (whether it’s an issue I as a blogger want to help with, or pure entertainment and fun)? And which headline would make them click my post?
Here are 2 useful free tools that can help you with this.
Neil Patel is a total SEO guru. He offers awesome, easily understandable guides and a bunch of free tools that help you grow your audience. I’m not always happy with his very competitive angle, but he’s still so damned likable.
Now, Ubersuggest does exactly what the very nerdy name promises. It helps you find search terms and posts on specific keywords that get a lot of visitors. That way, you can tailor your post to fit a popular search term.
For example, you planned to write a post called “5 books I enjoyed this month”. When you search around in Ubersuggest, you see that a lot of people look for “the best self-care books“. Three of the books from your list have self-care topics. So you can instead call your post “My 3 favorite books on self-care” which is likely to get more search engine traffic because you’re using a good keyword.
How to use it to find the best keywords
You type in a very broad keyword you want to write about. Then you can browse through search terms including your keyword. You can see how much search volume they have (in the image, that would be 1300 searches for the first 3 terms). And you can decide if you want to give your post a specific angle (like “best” or “2020” which isn’t on the list yet but will be soon). That makes it easier to rank and gives you an edge to rank for the more competitive terms later on.
Ranking on Google in 2020 isn’t only based on the number of backlinks. It’s actually a ridiculously complicated algorithm that no living person understands, but Social Media shares are one aspect of it. So, apart from the obvious direct traffic from having your post shared a lot, it also improves your post’s search ranking, making it a longer-lasting hit.
How to use it to create headlines that get shared
Just like with Ubersuggest, you type in your broad keyword. Then you will see a list of websites using that keyword, sorted by the overall Social Media shares they received. You can then make adjustments to your keyword and think up a post angle and/or a headline that people want to engage with, like “The 3 Self-Care Books to read this Spring”, or “The 3 Self-Care Books to teach you Mindfulness”.
Learn more about SEO…
SEO is a vast subject and whenever I’d read about it, I’d come out of it with even more terms I didn’t know before, and tons of new questions.
So, when Jenni from my lovely blog host Lyrical Host announced her SEO course last year I was curious. I kept following the development news, thinking back and forth whether this would be worth it for me. Since I’m not a full-time blogger and also not particularly rich, I don’t usually buy any courses. However, I’m super happy with Lyrical Host as my hosting company and know they’re not only great people but also very knowledgable. Long story short, I bought Navigating SEO. And as a direct result, I could seriously step up my SEO game in the last months and make Search Engines my highest traffic referrer.
The course software is very nice, with a great overview of the individual lessons. The lessons themselves are divided into mini-steps, so I’d never feel lost in regard to what we’re talking about. But it still delves deeply into search engine optimization, teaching you just about everything. The dictionary is also super helpful. And if there’s ever anything unclear, or if I have a very specific question and am not sure where to look for the answer, there’s the Lyrical Facebook group to ask questions that Jenni always answers swiftly and competently.
So, once you’ve taken the baby steps I talked about in this post, consider this really great course.
This is my affiliate link: Lyrical Host Navigating SEO Course**
With this course, you can take your book blog on Google to the next level. I wholeheartedly recommend it!
If you have any questions, leave me a comment 🙂/