APSS - Association of Publishers for Special Sales

Helping Publishers Sell More Books in More Ways

SEO for Independent Publishers

Posted: 7/29/11


Google’s recent slew of (Panda) updates to its search engine’s code have been designed to take into consideration the more evolved possibilities of the web. While this has caused some bugs in the search results, it does create opportunities for independent publishers, and small businesses in general, because Google now gives more weight towards quality content produced by an expert.


To help foil black-hat SEO [Search Engine Optimization] artists, Google keeps secret the exact process for measuring the quality and originality of content. Instead of giving details, Google asks webmasters and content producers to consider these 23 questions, to help better produce well-ranked content.


Of those 23 questions, "Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?"  best underlines the strategy that has the most potential for content producers.


This additional focus by Google, on the production of value-added content, offers creative wordsmiths further incentive to make the most of their talents because Google has essentially found a way to measure the appreciation of a site's fans.


Google accomplishes this partially through their +1 button, which looks like this: The +1 button can be used by Google search engine users with a Google account, to share with Google a recommendation for a website, page, or content item. It's essentially the same thing as the Facebook "Like", but with more clout because it's directly tied into a site's Google SEO rank. To "+1" something in the Google search results, you do need a Google account, but it does not need to be a "Google+" account.


With Google now crowd sourcing to help compile their search results, independent publishers, with their propensity for creating content (as books), are well positioned to take advantage of this shift towards audience appreciation.


Content, in the context of the Internet, describes a wide range of mediums. It can be a blog, an audio file or podcast, a video, a webcomic, a tweet, an app, a white paper pdf, an ebook, an interactive java script game, a photograph, etc. etc. etc.


Creatively, Google is intentionally encouraging the development of unique, quality content because they know that is what their search engine's users really need. Google is then working to place this "value-added" content, that it judges worthy, at the top of it's organic rankings, so as to be the most "value-added" Search Engine.


From a content production standpoint, your focus should be on credibly presenting topics of interest from within your area of expertise. Due to the expansive nature of that topic, the remainder of this article will focus on, with an ascending word-count, three technical strategies to further optimize your site for Google.



Strengthen the Vectors that point to your site by:


Filling in the holes in your Keyword Net.


The long-tail of publishing has a cousin, which is the long tail of keyword visits. This is because the depth of relevant keywords increases as the frequency decreases. Or, in other words, their are a large number of keywords that each bring in a small number of visitors.


You can use brainstorming, or the free keyword niche finder: http://www.wordstream.com/keyword-niche-finder, to help identify clusters of keywords, and phrases, that are under represented on your site.






Optimize for the Semantic Web using Google Rich Snippets


Make the most of the upcoming, and ongoing, semantic web revolution by optimizing your website for microformats and rich snippets, which allow a webmaster the ability to clearly label their content for search engine bots within the page's HTML code, or though a data feed.



This means that the information that is most relevant for your subject, such as price, availability, and review rating,  can all be included in the search listing.


For more information on using rich snippets to sell a book, visit: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=1095551


For information on updating you semantic listing with Bowker's Books in Print, visit: http://www.spannet.org/group/isbn/forum/topics/sell-more-books-through-better


Here is the list of microformats that Google currently supports:





Google's overview of Microformats and Rich Snippets: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=9917


3rd Party explanation of Rich Snippets that gives broader context with SEO Benefits of having Rich Snippets:  http://seoamit.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/rich-snippets-and-its-importance-for-seo/





Create a Word of Mouth Campaign


The Google +1 button: creates a direct channel of communication between Google and your fans allowing new, and long-term, fans of your site, content, book, or brand to share with Google their positive inclination towards your work.


This directly supports Google’s focus on quality content. By crowd sourcing with a social interface, Google passes some of the burden of SEO analysis to those who it impacts most, and those with the overall best perspective to decide what is “quality”, the visitor to the website.


The best way to leverage this is to create a keyword focused word of mouth campaign amongst your fanbase. For example, on the SPANnet homepage, we have been asking our members to support us with a click through, and/or a Google +1 recommendation, during a Google search for the keyword  "SPANnet.org".


We are asking for our members to search for our URL because we'd like to test the theory that such URL searches represent a higher word of mouth potential, and are thus now weighted more heavily by Google.


To measure the results, we are using the keyword search, "independent publishing" as our baseline. As of this writing, 7/29/11, we are currently ranked number 6th for the phrase "independent publishing".


We will be able to measure and document the impact of this campaign both through Google Analytics and by watching our ranking for the keyword "independent publishing".


If, oh so humbly speaking, you choose to favor us by participating in this SEO experiment, please post a comment at the bottom of this article, and let us know.


Either way, thank you for your time, and for your consideration.




bradley flora






You need to be a member of APSS - Association of Publishers for Special Sales to add comments!

Comment by Bradley Flora on August 27, 2011 at 3:35pm



Aha, thanks for keeping me honest! ; )


I'm not sure what grammar and punctuation mistakes you are referring to right now, but we always run on a tight publication schedule, so I do admit something may have slipped through. I'm going to reread it now multiple times and try to find what you are referring to, but if you could point it out to me here it would be much appreciated.


In regard to "SEO", as the author of this article, I had assumed that it was a common enough term so as to not need a definition, but I hear what you are saying and have made adjustments to the article in that regard.


Once again, for any grammatical errors or typos that you see and feel the need to bring to our attention in general terms, it would most helpful if you could share them with us here by just quoting the sentence or paragraph where they appear.


And as always, your critiscism and feedback is appreciated.


Thank you.




bradley flora


Comment by Robert Ellis Smith on August 27, 2011 at 8:53am

Coming from a publishers' organization, this article is not acceptable material.  Let's check these articles for grammar and punctuation mistakes before sending them to the memberhip.  And let's define "SEO" somehwere on the page.


Robert Ellis Smith


Comment by Bradley Flora on August 1, 2011 at 5:34pm

Thanks Amanda!


In regard to our experiment, we are currently gathering data while monitoring search results. One of the interesting issues that has come up, in this regard, is that Google Search results are much, much, more dynamic then they used to be.


Based on a users browsing patterns, Google may present results in a different order then for another user.


I'm currently researching the variables that dictate who gets to see what, etc. etc. and will be sharing those results, as well as the results from our SEO experiment, in the near future.


Thanks for your time, and consideration.


bradley flora


Comment by Amanda Dowdy on August 1, 2011 at 9:20am

Hi Bradley,


Nice article, and interesting test. I did as you asked. I'm anxious to hear how this works out for you. 

Best! Amanda

Comment by Bradley Flora on July 30, 2011 at 3:58pm



Sorry for any confusion. I think you clicked the +1 button in this article. Does that sound right? Those buttons are just captured images, and are completely empty.  That would take you take you to that type of blank page.


Thanks for doing it, anyway. The sentiment is appreciated! ,' )


If you'd like to see the +1 button in action, you do need to do it within Google's search results, such as these:


Search: "SEO for Independent Publishers"


Let me know if that works better. This whole system is a little like smoke mirrors from Google, because they don't want people "cheating" the search engine...which is nice I suppose, but it makes it so us honest folk have to explore a bit before we find exactly what works best!


Thank you for your time, either way!


bradley flora


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