Journalist Rebecca Whittington continues her advice to new writers, as they set up and manage their online presence. In this post, she talks about the often-confusing term SEO, and what this means.

Right, if you’ve read my previous two posts, you’ll have your website and blog standing proud on the digital landscape.

ID-10067087But what’s the point of creating either of these if only you know about them? There are a few ways you could spread the word about your work, one of those being Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

SEO is the use of clever words and language to connect your site with internet users, to push it higher up search engine rankings. Think about who you want to see your website: your potential readers. Then think about using the internet from their point of view. What are they likely to be searching for? How can you make your website different from the hundreds of others out there promoting new books? The answer is by using definitive keywords.

For example, on your homepage, you introduce yourself and your project. But to make your homepage content optimised, you need to include a variety of keywords that may be used by search engine users.

An example of this would be: Tales of romance, heartbreak and high seas feature in Making Waves, by Joe Bloggs, an author from Leeds in West Yorkshire. Making Waves, set in Whitby, North Yorkshire, tells the story of Lancelot, an apprentice of fisherman Abraham Coombs, who goes missing in a storm. When the lifeboats are pulled from the search for Abraham’s body, Lancelot makes it his mission to find his remains and return them to the seaside town that his mentor loved so much. But a dark shadow on the horizon and the appearance of a beautiful stranger throw Lancelot into troubled waters….will he sink or swim?

Joe Bloggs grew up in a small town near Scarborough before moving to attend the University of Leeds. His brand new book, ‘Making Waves’, has been published to critical acclaim, with fellow-author Jim Jones describing it as ‘a narrative of our modern times’.

The words highlighted in bold are terms that might be typed into a search engine by people not necessarily looking for a specific book by Joe Bloggs. They might be potential holidaymakers Googling ‘Whitby’, ‘Scarborough’ and ‘seaside’, or people interested in the plight of fishermen and lifeboat rescue. Or they might be looking up the University of Leeds. Even Madonna’s song ‘Beautiful Stranger’ might bring you some hits! The point being, it’s worth weaving some SEO language into your web pages. Most website hosts will let you ‘tag’ words as part of the design, meaning you can build additional language into your site without using it in the main copy on the pages. For example, the above author might want to list some of the famous titles written by Jim Jones, so that anyone Googling his work will also see the Joe Bloggs’ site in his search list.

You can also use SEO on blogs – and in some ways this is easier, as there’s more opportunity to build the language into your writing. The most popular post I’ve ever written was about Kim Kardashian’s infamous Paper photoshoot (, which drew international interest mainly, I suspect, because of the use of keywords ‘Kim Kardashian’, ‘butt’ and ‘bottom’ – all of which will be Googled by internet users across the world. You can see from the blog title and the list of tags (which can be viewed by scrolling down to the end of the page) how important SEO was in this context.

So, when writing your blogs, be creative when thinking about SEO. People may not be directly looking for your novel, but they may well find it by accident and love it, so it’s definitely worth the thought and effort.

A top tip for SEO is to look at other websites and see if you can identify how key words have been used. It can feel clunky writing SEO copy into your website, but look at how others have done it. It might help you write your own.

Rebecca’s last post in this series features social media. Follow this blog so you don’t miss it.

RebeccaWhittingtonMediaRebecca Whittington is a former newspaper journalist who specialises in media consultancy, media strategy, social media and website management. She is available for media training, writing for the web, and assistance on setting up projects on websites and social media networks. For more information, visit Rebecca’s webpage and blog:

Developmental editor and publishing consultant Diane Hall is the author of three books; she has also ghost-written books for others and created a plethora of content, on more subjects than you could care to imagine, for numerous clients since the beginning of her career. She is proud to have fundamentally shaped series of books and more than a hundred individual titles over the last decade with various authors, nationally and internationally. Diane-Packages-2

Among her editing qualifications, she holds a linguistics diploma, which involves the study of language and speech. Diane employs this knowledge in the forensic linguistic work she sometimes undertakes.

Diane has seen the introduction and subsequent rise of self-publishing, and passionately keeps abreast of its disruption of the publishing industry. She is a thought leader when it comes to the future of book marketing, fuelled by the poor results authors see when employing traditional techniques.

Thanks to Stuart Miles at for use of the main image.

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