When I work with authors, there isn’t usually a dearth of material for their website…  they’ve usually already come up with some focused content about their book(s) and themselves for the jacket if nothing else. But often it isn’t designed for the web — sometimes it’s too wordy, sometimes it’s too generic, sometimes it doesn’t target their audience with key phrases to bring search traffic to the site.

So, if you’re an author, how do you choose and optimize content for your website to make sure it’s working for you?  Here’s the low-down on how to feature your website’s content in the best light:

  1. Keep it focused. Think about the person you want visiting your website, and consider why they’re there.  What do they want to know?  The mantra for solid content design is, “what is this? what will it do for me? how do I take action on this?” – so make sure your text provides that concisely.
  2. Keep it fresh. Websites aren’t something that’s done and then forgotten about.  They need to be optimized based on traffic/visitor data, new technologies that will help your users, your evolving business, or even just keeping the design from looking stale.  The content for your site should be working for you!  To find out if it is, make sure you’re regularly checking your site stats (such as with Google Analytics).  If some text you poured your heart into isn’t driving traffic to the page that offers your product/service, change it!  Check out your successful competition — how have they crafted their message?
  3. Don’t limit it to just your website.  Your blog, or, even better, other people’s blogs are a great way to feature your content — so inquire about doing guest blog posts for a site to which you can add valuable content.  You can also do this by creating unique articles for online publications, leaving helpful comments, and engaging via social media.  This method allows you to add value outside of the boundaries of your own website, create some authority and legitimacy on the web, and link back to your website.
  4. Keep it interesting. If you’re just reiterating exactly what people can find elsewhere about your book or about you, there’s no reason for them to stay on your site and follow through with a purchase.  You want to add value by offering up content that will make your readership feel like they’re connecting with you.  This might mean photos of your book signings, videos or podcasts of you doing an interview, some info about your current (but-not-yet-released) project, or a little behind-the-scenes text about your book(s) or process.
  5. Keep it relevant. Do some research into the search words & phrases that you want your site to rank for, and be sure to fold them into your site content. Remember that you want to be writing for people, not search robots, but some consideration given to the words & phrases that will benefit those using Google will also help those search robots do their job better for you.

So, get out there and let your content shine!