Blog Tours and the Art of Backlinking

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.

The internet.

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?

internet marketing, backlinks, blog tours, contemporary western romance suspense author Sara Walter Ellwood

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


  1. Interesting post Sara…thanks for sharing. I’m already looking forward to next week 🙂

  2. Jennifer Lowery says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Sara! I am so not technology savvy! I look forward to more of your posts!

  3. Very interesting. I’ve also noticed an increase in traffic to my website by commenting on blog posts as well. So every little bit helps to get your name out there.

  4. margeryscott says:

    I really dislike blog tours, but it seems to be a necessary evil. I’m looking forward to learning more about marketing and finding other ways to bring readers to me.

  5. Great post, Sara, and something I’ve been (trying) to put into practice over the past year. It’s hard and it’s a job all in itself..but I do believe it helps. Thanks for the post!

  6. Sara, I like the idea of backlinking…linking my website to others…but what is the physical process for this? I’d like to do it. Thanks for this inof! Rolynn

    1. Rolynn, how you’d get your links on another website would be by guest blogging on that site… For example, if you guest blogged (I would post an article that you write) on my blog with your blook info and website link–this is a backlink. So the easiest way to do this is through a blog tour. Does that make sense?

  7. Thanks for sharing your insights, Sara. I haven’t done a blog tour yet, but I have guest blogged. I’m playing with the idea of creating a blog on my own website, so all of your information will help me shape my marketing plans. Am I correct, that if I’ve provided my website address on the blogs where I guest, I’ve “backlinked”?

    Barbara Barrett

    1. To be perfeclty honest just about every marketing article/book I’ve read strongly suggests you have an active blog on your website. There is no other way to constantly be adding new content and it is this content that the search engines look for. And yes, if you list your link in the blogs where you guest blog, you are backlinking.

  8. M.Q. Barber says:

    Fascinating series idea and a great start, Sara. It’s wonderful to see an honest assessment of the usefulness of marketing options and how to allot limited time to the task. I’ll definitely be back next week to read your take on keywords for SEO.

  9. I have a friend who works in internet marketing, and she’s really opened my eyes about how small things I never knew or realized can help increase traffic to websites or blogs, like that line of “share this” buttons. Just one visitor hitting the Digg or Stumbleupon or Google plus, etc. buttons can increase visits by quite a bit. I never realized, and it’s so easy! Thanks for this – looking forward to more.

  10. Brenda says:

    Excellent, EXCELLENT post. I’m excited for the next one.
    I am in the same mind-frame you are about blog tours and hops. There are simply too many and most are not reaching “readers”. Yes, other writers are readers, but like you pointed out, they are as busy as we are. Plus, most of our TBR piles are so big it would take months–even years–to read the books we already have.

  11. Thank you all for coming by. What amazed me (and I’m no marketing expert or even know that much about tech stuff) but how easy some of this stuff is… My goal in this series is to help others how easy it is.

  12. Joan Leacott says:

    At your prompting, I typed in my name and the WHOLE first page came up with me. There was one entry that was another person, but I must be doing something right. Huh.

    1. Joan, that’s great that you come up when you type your name in… But type in keywords that describe your genre… For me it’s contemprorary western romantic (romance) suspense without my name. If you come up on the first or second page you are doing it right, if not, your SEO isn’t working or doesn’t exist. Remember if some one is looking for a book, but may never have heard of you, they won’t be typing your name into the search engine, but rather keywords that describe what they are looking for.

      Thanks for coming by!!!

      1. Joan Leacott says:

        First I tried “contemporary romance” and got all the sellers and Wiki. When I tried “small-town contemporary romance”, I got the same group, plus a few websites. Only four authors actually showed up in the first two pages. Guess my genre is too broad. Or I’ve got some tagging to do. Thanks for the tip.

      2. Joan Leacott says:

        I scrolled a little farther and came up on page 6. Huh. That was kinda cool.

  13. Nancy Cohen says:

    All good points. I’m looking forward to what you’ll say on metatags as I need to learn more about them. But one other point about blog tours: they can increase your exposure to readers who may not have heard of you before.

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