Today, I’m starting an extensive blog series dealing with something I think we all struggle with—marketing. I’m by far an expert and mostly I’m just sharing what I’ve learned over the past few weeks after diving into the very murky waters myself. I set out on this quest after realizing my blog tour was a failure. I have to bring readers to me, which means figuring out some of the easiest ways to market myself.
But are all blog tours a waste of time? Are they worth the effort? These questions might seem odd coming from a blog tour host, and from someone who’s now done two long tours and one short one, and has another long tour booked for April/May. But it’s a valid question, I think—especially since I’ve seen no jump in my sales from them.
So, you are probably asking, why do them?
I’ve recently asked myself this same question and oddly, the answer is mixed. There are several reasons for not doing them. They are a royal pain. They’re time consuming. Blog tours haven’t helped my sales. I work full time and it’s hard to respond to readers, or just keeping up with all of the contest winners is next to impossible. The same people—my writing buddies—seem to be the only ones who comment. I am not reaching actual readers, but just other writers who have full slates of their own and can’t possibly read every book they see on blogs. I know I can’t.
I’ve actually canceled most of the second month of my Gambling On A Secret tour for the reasons listed. And I still believe all of them to be valid—especially the last one.
Then I started a marketing experiment. I need to bring readers to me. The simplest way to do this is through my home on the internet. This meant making sure my website has the best SEO (search engine optimization) I can provide. But I knew nothing—other than what the acronym stood for and that mine sucked—about SEO. I asked a question on one of my RWA email loops and came away with a ton of helpful nuggets of information, some of which were links to articles which led me to finding some awesome free ebooks.
From all this marketing research, I discovered the real benefit to guest blogging or blog tours—something called backlinking. So, you’re wondering what the heck is this?
Simply put, backlinking is the action of putting your website link on another website. So, when you list your links in your guest blog, you in turn create a “call to action” which brings potential buyers—or just the curious—to your website.
What this can do is increase your ranking among the search engines, especially once you’ve started to improve your SEO by using keywords (see next week’s post). Keywords is one of the bits of data search engines (Google being the most widely used) crawls your site for to rank it. So, when Google (or others) crawls the blogs/websites that you’ve appeared on and finds your link to your website with your keywords in the article or in the link, it adds this backlink to your ranking score.
Guest blogs may be a PIA and the immediate outcome may not be a sale at that moment, but for me, it (along with several other measures I’ve taken) has improved my ranking. In fact, when I checked Google yesterday by typing in my keywords “contemporary western romance suspense” I was number three on the list. Which means if someone out there was searching Google for a contemporary western romantic suspense novel, they would come across my site before even Kat Martin’s (which I assume is a fluke). But hey, maybe it’s just because my SEO is better than hers.
I can dream, can’t I?
Next week: Improving SEO with Keywords