Monday, October 19, 2009
"Grading" your author's web site?
By Kathryn Lilley
My latest book, Makeovers Can Be Murder, has entered its early trials--a 12-week, Darwinian period during which the books are cast upon the shelves of bookstores across the country. Newly published books are typically given 12 weeks--3 months--to live or die. If they "live," this means that all the books sell out, and then customers order more. If the books "die," well...we call that Remaindered Hell. Remaindered books are sent back to the publisher, where they languish in warehouses, or are simply destroyed.
During this 12-week period, most authors make frantic efforts to promote their books--a process that typically includes sprucing up their author's web sites.
For most of the year, I tend to ignore my web site, www.kathrynlilley.com; I lag behind in making updates (except for the Twitter app that automatically displays updates). Recently I noticed that I'd even let my newsletter account expire. (This may be due to the fact that, because I don't like getting newsletters, I assume other people don't like getting them--even the ones who sign up for my newsletter. Or it might be just laziness on my part--I hate writing 'em).
But from time to time I make solemn vows to improve the site. Recently I ran my URL through Website Grader, an SEO service that grades web sites according to various criteria, including meta data, inbound links, and a bunch of other things that I barely understand. It also compares a given site to similar sites. My web site had a score of 47. Now, when I went to school, a 47 was a big, fat "F". The site also had a Google page rank of 3. That's probably not good either, although I have no idea what is considered a "good" Google page rank.
The Website Grader issued a report that suggested various ways that I can improve my statistics: Adding a page title, metadata, and listing the site on web directories, among others. I've since heard that those suggestions for revisions are based on "old" technology, and no longer valid. But honestly, I have no idea. I'll take a stab at making the improvements, just to feel like I've done something useful.
As an author, how much attention do you pay to your web site? Do you let it languish like an unwanted stepchild, or do you nurture yours? If you've done a major overhaul, have you been pleased with the result?