SEO Tips and Tricks: Learn How to Raise Your Rankings and Your Profile

**Notes typed Live at the event by Adrienne Biggs, NCPBMA President @AdrienneBiggs**

SEO Tips and Tricks: Learn How to Raise Your Rankings and Your Profile

Wednesday, February 29th 12-2pm Hotel Rex


Molly Birckhead is the Senior Online Marketing Manager at HarperOne, the San Francisco-based imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, where she has worked since 2009.  Prior to joining the publishing world, she spent eight years in the entertainment industry executing online marketing campaigns for large and small clients in film, television and music. Her focus at HarperOne has been to increase the online visibility of the imprint and its books.  She has built and maintains over 25 active book, author and brand pages on Facebook, four Twitter accounts, and successful communities on sites such as YouTube, GoodReads, LinkedIn and more.  She takes an innovative approach to her work, continually trying to find the right mix of SEO, blog partnerships, social media, consumer engagement, sweepstakes and PPC to ensure that HarperOne books can be found wherever readers spend time online.

Gradiva Couzin has been working in search marketing since its early days in 1998. Along with her co-author and business partner, Jennifer Grappone, Gradiva co-wrote “Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day,” published by Wiley (2006, 2008, 2011).

This book is targeted toward do-it-yourselfers, offering a step-by-step approach to mastering SEO, with real-world case studies, tools, and techniques.   As a founding partner at Gravity Search Marketing, Gradiva works closely with corporate and non-profit clients to ensure that SEO best practices are integrated into all web development processes.  Gravity Search Marketing clients include a range of small and large businesses; services include organic and paid search marketing, reputation management, and social media strategies. Gradiva lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.

Jason McDonald is a “technologist” crazy enough to begin experimenting with online media in 1994, when he founded as a web portal for embedded systems, broadly defined. Currently, he splits his responsibilities between consulting in SEO, AdWords, and Social Media as well as teaching Internet Marketing both in real-life at AcademyX in San Francisco, and online for the JM Internet Group as well as at Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program. Jason earned his Ph.D. in 1992 from the University of California, Berkeley; his dissertation was “Economic Policy in Hungary.”  Over 14,000 people have taken Jason’s free courses on Internet Marketing, and several thousand have taken his paid trainings and corporate workshops.

This panel was moderated by NCBPMA Membership Coordinator, Jennifer Balaco.


Note: Specific Hot Tips and Tools References are underlined below.

The panelists wasted no time asking for a show of hands of people who are involved with SEO in some capacity in their jobs. The (surprising?) response: 75%

Next, a basic definition of “SEO” was offered up from each expert.

Jason: Analogies, like playing poker with google, rules, values, title tag is ace. Bad habits begin playing poker at kiddie table

Molly: Content distribution and trying to own at least first 6 results for your book or brand

Gradiva: anything you can do to influence how your biz brand displays in search, how search delivers people to you to reach your biz goals and bottom line (no bounce backs). It is never about tricking the engines to manipulate your rank.


When asked, why is SEO important for the publishing industry, Molly responded, “We’re in comp with movies, video games, TV. SEO is cost effective and allows piggy back on other marketing like a movie based on a book. For NF, ex: capitalize on Fall Flu season by publishing a flu book in the Fall.


What are top 10 words:


Tag Structure: communicates with Google


Meta Descriptions

Inbound Links: Link juice is like electricity to flow thru a web site correctly

Social Search: comes up esp with Google+, enormous impact on authorship and how it effects social search


SEO term from 90s encompasses tech, content, social and link building (PR) umbrella term

SEM Search engine mktg, paid search ads, Google ads

PPC used with paid search ads

CPC cost per click

Link Juice: aka Link Equity, Authority synonyms flows through pages

Google Pagerank: a value synonymous with aggregative the quality and quantity of links pointing to your site

Molly: “keyword buy” thru Google adwords, buys through FB search term for what the community is built around


What’s the difference between, and benefit of, Developers vs Marketers:

Gradiva: 3-legged stool analogy: website (tech structural elements have to be SE friendly) and content is indexable and keywords; content contains descriptive key words that your audience uses; outreach or outward component is social signals to have conversations with the Web at large. Ideally need all three components, but short term projects like films don’t need the most amazing content

Jason: Shared an example; he did training at New Harbinger, clever titles like Surviving Life as a Mom but conceptually the search terms would be anxiety, help with panic attacks. Need to include keywords in the appropriate places ie title and subtitle, image tags are also important. Then, where do you put those keywords: title tag at top of browser.

Hot Tip: Google “SEO Guide” to get a full PDF of tag structure, links, hierarchy


Gradiva: “clever title syndrome” include titles in headlines of articles. State the obvious in your title, even if taken out of context. Search results are out of context so you need to keep that in mind. Title of your blog should also include clickable visible key words. Hot Tip: For poll of industry expert sources and nuts and bolts: “ranking factors”.


Company blogs: what is the blogging platform that best effects SEO? Does switching server hosts help?

Jason: WordPress is best out of box platform experience, but need to add YOAST plug in to fix the tag structure. Speed of servers is an issue, locality of server in a different company (Google penalizes cross-country server locations ie .com vs .ca).

Gradiva: All in one SEO plug in YOAST is a great WordPress plug in. Blogger, Tumblr? Avoid trying to build your own blogging platform. Avoid servers in places like Russia, it signals to Google and they penalize you. When redesigning or relaunching a site, you change your URLs so take extra steps to ensure it’s not interrupted in Search.

Molly: same applies to press releases or blog to distribute press release on line; feature key words in online press releases to enable search. Instead of title Courage, be clever and use puns but keep key words basic and mention “struggle with cancer” (subtitle)


Key words, tagging, adding categories etc: what is the best way to add key words to your content?

Molly: First Q to ask yourself: What is your book’s message for marketing and SEO? Include search engines in your audience. Write for consumption by humans, don’t repeat same phrases in all marketing.

Gradiva: Natural text, avoid gibberish. Titles are super important. Mix up variations of your key word synonyms that are naturally associated with cancer (hospital, patient, survivorhood). Am I using words that people will actually search with? Humungous fan of tagging content, blogs, product pages. Bridesdresses: satin, strapless. Clickable tag words that take you to a page that aggregates all blog posts on that topic of strapless bridesmaid dress. Serve the searcher by creating a result that really matches what they searched for.

Jason: lots of free tools for keyword discovery “Google Ad Words Key Word Tool”. Fish where the fish are (search where people search). HTML tags are diff from Tags in WordPress. In wordpress, create post, tag post, big issue on news release: use keywords so the free-ish services like pitchengine, PR Web/Vocus, can pull release and syndicate for RSS blog feeds. These outlets automatically optimize your press releases. TW & FB pages are also indexed, and links to your blog or Pinterest, which makes you your own syndicate. Try to “own” the top 5-6 results for your key words by making that content useful and interesting so people land on author’s blog by natural circumstances.

Molly: Include tags like “books like this one by this famous author.” Like the comparative titles in an author questionnaire. Add it to the book description page in lead paragraph on HC web site, must fit fluidly into a natural sentence. Originates with creating the marketing materials for the sales team and bookstores. Use Amazon “books like this” for research. Add What I’m Reading to author blogs to include similar book titles without seeming too keywordy.

Gradiva: Don’t forget that you should tag the most obvious subject of your post ie “publishing industry”. Google “Keyword Tool” brings up the first tool.


How many tags per blog post do you recommend?

Jason: 5-6 clumps: brides, weddings, strapless, dresses. Look for different ways to slice the pie. Don’t overdo it. Like an old card catalogue. But don’t miss the obvious subject.


What’s the best thing one can do to improve SEO on my web site:

Jason: Mostly for Non-Fiction, to get to top of Google searches, get Google+ account. Google is aiming it like the Death Star at Twitter, it’s a huge transformation in SEO. Pitchengine used to be best free service, but recommends Vocus which owns PR Web.

Molly: Secret weapon is a social media release: a press release but you changed to shorter headline, removed a lot of wording, make it the length of a blog post, embed video or attach secondary materials like one sheet, recipe, quiz, author web site. You can also tag social media releases. They allow you to name your URL. Pitchengine and PR Web provide you with a place to live online plus a newsroom and send to journalists for you. Uses Vocus which distributes to other outlets. Gets 10-30 posts just from the press release.

Gradiva: author can associate their Google+ with similar content. Maximize Google+ integration. 1) site: are all pages indexed, are titles repeated or truncated?


Is there any quantifiable data that shows SEO leads to sales?

Jason: NF books are very searchable ie “how to treat autism in children”. For Fiction, social media is most important so SEO is not top priority if you have limited resources.

Molly: Best thing to do is drive people to book page or author’s web site and have that landing page set up so it’s really easy to purchase books. You can put Google Analytics on anything they can so you can know if for example a partnership drove more clicks to your site on a certain day.

Godeva: Avoid redirects which hurt search results.


Any suggestions to improve user interface?:

Jason: Having a web site and store separated and redirected to each other is fine.


What’s all the fuss about Google+ and why should I be on it, or not?:

Jason: Very imp for Search, enable authorship to have your photo appear next to Search. Refer to his “Enabling Authorship” video on YouTube. Gets traction for NF authors because it tells Google where you live on the Web. Mainstream media is misunderstanding. Chris Brogan’s book on Google Plus: “it’s not FB” (check conversation on Amazon). Simple set up, huge huge huge opp for NF authors.

Gradiva: Google is favoring Google+ in search, and wants more of it, so it leverages Shares and Profiles.

Molly: Mashable or Techcrunch vs Pinterest or FB need to outline benefits.


Can we make a Google+ company profile?:

Jason: Companies can make profiles, but that’s not where the action is. He cares about author profiles which have better traction and Share capacity.


How to convince an author to use Google+ when they won’t even do Twitter?:

Jason: Authors are like herding cats, understands author vibe, it’s really challenging. Show them some searches like Facebook Timeline where you start to see pictures on Search results. Tell them, “if you want your picture to come up on a certain Search, then you must have a decent Google+ profile”. Show them how valuable the Share opportunity is to build your expertise and brand.


What are trends, future predictions?:

Jason: Google+ battle, will it work, will it be successful? Social Search is #1 trend, it’s what your Friends and Google are also searching for with the same keyword. Also collapse of traditional distribution systems and “yellow pages” small businesses.

Gradiva: Personalization and localization (aka Geosearch) based on your IP address, for now. Trend toward more local personalization. Google is watching whether you bounce back from a web site, and asks if you want to ban a site from future search results. Rumors about where FB is going, taking up more of the Search market share but also is FB going to becomes more of a web search org.

Molly: Will Google+ catch on, and if it does, will privacy issues turn people away?


Do Klout scores matter?

Jason: No


How can I get more subscribers using Constant Contact and Blue Kangaroo?:

Jason: email marketing must provide something of value. Email is now perceived as a bit intrusive so keep it short and sweet.

Molly: offer incentives, give discount codes, free download of a free e-booklet ie chapter that you haven’t already shared online.



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