It's not enough to simply have an author website. You need to make sure the website you have actually works for you. It has to reach whatever goals you set for it. And if it's not currently doing that, you should consider making some changes.
Not sure if your author website needs work? Conduct a simple website audit to find out.
What is a Website Audit?
A website audit is an evaluation of your current site. Here are some of the most basic things your audit should focus on:
- Usability / navigation
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Speed / load times
- Content quality
In other words, you want to periodically check in on all of these things to make sure you aren't missing out on traffic or turning off potential readers.
Why Conduct an Audit of Your Author Website?
Sometimes we get a bit detached from our websites once they're launched. We forget what they're like to someone coming in with fresh eyes. Some of us get caught up in regular updates and we forget to "clean house" when necessary. (I'm guilty of this.) And others put their website online and then never want to look at it again, assuming they work like virtual billboards directing readers to their books. It doesn't quite work that way.
A website audit forces you to take a look at all of the things that matter both to your book marketing and to your potential readers:
- When readers show up on their homepage, how many clicks does it take before they can learn more about your book or buy it?
- Can readers quickly figure out how to contact you?
- Does your design represent you well? Is it appropriate for your niche or genre? Does it look like it was built in the 90s and never touched again? I'm always amazed at how many outdated author websites I come across.
- Is the content on your website an accurate representation of what readers can expect in your books? Occasional typos aren't a big deal, especially if you publish an author blog regularly. But if your site is full of them, what are readers going to expect from your books?
- Does your website rank well for important keyword phrases to drive search traffic? Have you even covered the basics, like writing optimized meta titles and meta descriptions for each page and blog post? Or are things like that still Greek to you?
- Do the links within your content actually work? If someone tries to click a navigation link, are they left hanging?
- Does your website take more than a few seconds to load? (You can test it here.)
These are some questions to get you started, but they're by no means the only things you should look at. Think about all the reasons you have a website and what you want that website to do for you. Tailor your audit around not only these basics, but also your unique goals.
Need more ideas? There's an excellent website audit checklist available from Web-Savvy-Marketing.com. You can use that as a guide if you aren't sure where to start.
Have you ever conducted an audit of your author website? Did it help you identify problems? I'll be working on a few for my own author sites next week in anticipation of some big changes on some of them before I get more active with updates there. And I can't wait. Don't ask me why, but I love this stuff.
Update: Right after publishing this I saw a tweet from Moz featuring a content audit tutorial. It's amazing. So if you want to dig deeper into the content audit side of things, How to do a Content Audit - Step-by-Step is a great guide, especially for the more technically-inclined.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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