Keywords For Authors by Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist
Written by
Stephanie Barko
February 2012
Written by
Stephanie Barko
February 2012

Although it may be true that incoming links reign for pulling traffic to an author’s website, a writer still needs to have desirable content to get those links.  So what is it, exactly, that makes content desirable?  Is it subject matter?  Writing style?  Graphics?  Formatting? 

It is none of these.

The most desirable content is that which draws traffic for its author.

Think of it this way.  If offering content for a byline is a way to get in the backlink game, then offering keyworded content is the way to win it.  

Nonfiction, more than any other genre, lends itself to being discovered through keyword searches.  While a novel is more likely to be recommended by word of mouth, a how-to book is more likely discovered through an internet search engine.  The use of search term analytics can be advantageous, but only if an author knows what to do with them.

Here’s an example.  Let’s say you write an article that contains the bulk of the keywords in this list.  You then link that article to the site that is #1 for your top keyword.  In time, your own site should begin receiving traffic from the site with your article on it.  Furthermore, the new traffic you’re receiving should be from visitors who are keenly interested in your main topic.       


Current power keywords for authors:










book reviews

free books


social networking

books list



book blog


book sales


As mentioned earlier, nonfiction subgenres and subjects benefit the most from keyword indexing. Nonfiction authors have three analytical tools that can help them sell books—keywords, skill sets, and articles.  Here are some ways that nonfiction authors can increase traffic to their websites and blogs.

1. Refresh keywords. Make it an annual event at the beginning of every year to pull up Google Adwords and retest the keywords and phrases that work with your material.  Pick the terms with the most hits and the lowest competition.  Note new terms that are rising.  Discard old ones that are losing rank.  Make a list of this year’s keywords in descending order of importance.  Use them on your website, in your blog posts, and in your articles. 

2. Add skills. As LinkedIn expands and diversifies, more and more of us are finding our experts there.  Did you know that LinkedIn now allows 50 skills per profile?  Try to convert your keywords and phrases into LinkedIn skills.  Observe the new connections that reach out to you on LinkedIn afterwards.

3. Place articles.   Backlinks (incoming links) plus content are still king for gaining page rank on Google.  Submit new articles with your latest keywords on the sites that are currently #1 for your top keywords.  Doing this will integrate your analytics strategy.   

Nonfiction authors who know their best keywords and phrases, and can articulate their skills are more likely to be found.  When authors place their keywords, phrases and skills in carefully located posts and articles, they draw their readers to them.

Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist was voted Best Book Promotion Service by Preditors & Editors’ Readers Poll in 2011.  Client successes include an IndieReader Best Book of 2011, a 2011 IPPY and a 2011 International Book Award.  Ask about Stephanie’s February special, read what clients are saying about her on LinkedIn, and follow her book marketing tips on Twitter and Facebook.

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  • Heather Marsten

    Sorry I misunderstood.  I've been researching blogging and sites about blogging and so many are for profit. You are right, key words are important.  

  • Stephanie Barko

    I'm not advocating any advertising here at all, Heather.  My purpose in writing the piece was to encourage writers to know their keywords so that when they blog, syndicate articles, post essays and distribute their bio, their keywords are in the text directly.  The more you use your keywords, the more likely you are to attract your readers online.

    I agree with you that tone is important, specifically in a blog, because a blog reflects the host's personality and connection with her following, but tone is a separate quality from keywording.

  • Heather Marsten

    These are great tips - and one other - the author (not what the author does to find the key words), but the personality and caring of the author has to impact the readers. I've seen blogs that go out of their way to incorporate a lot of key words, that sound like an add, and those blogs don't keep me. I resonate with the ones that feel like an author cares about me, wants quality content, and has something to offer me as a reader - something more than a piece of merchandise.  Of course, part of this could be shyness of self-promotion.

    Thanks for taking the time to give these hints.

  • Stephanie Barko

    When I wrote this, Bronwyn, I knew a lot of fiction writers would read it and I was curious to see what they would do with it.  For certain types of fiction, I see keywording being very useful and perhaps not so useful for others.  For instance, a lot of people really love horses.  Many of those horse lovers are also avid readers.  If you're a novelist with horses as prominent characters in your stories, I definitely think there's merit to keywording with "horse", "horses", "horse stories", or whichever term ranks best.  

    Also...paranormal is hot.  If you write paranormal fiction, I see merit in keywording for that, although testing the term a bit might produce one that isn't nearly as competitive, like say paranormal romance.

  • Bronwyn Mauldin

    Thanks, Stephanie. This is really useful. I'm wondering if the same approach would work for fiction writers if we used words related to the content of our stories in the way nonfiction writers can use their skill areas. For example, for a book or story about goldfish, using "goldfish" or other fish-related terms as keywords. Your thoughts?