7 Things Agents & Publishers Look for in Author Websites (2012 Edition)

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Agents and publishers are getting savvier when it comes to measuring author websites and online platforms.

If you want to attract agents and publishers for your next book, you will want to check these seven things before they do.

Minding these elements is like brushing your teeth before you go to the dentist.

1. Google PageRank

What is PageRank?

Page Rank is how important Google thinks your site is. It is a logarithmic scale from 1-10 where bigger is better.  The more links you have pointing to your website, the higher your PageRank. Publishers typically look for sites with a PageRank of 4 or 5 on the homepage.

Why is PageRank important?

The higher your PageRank the easier it is to rank for various words and phrases on Google. The higher you rank for relevant phrases the more traffic you get and the more books you sell. The more books you can sell, the more publishers will want to sign you.

How do you measure PageRank?

You can check your PageRank by going to PRchecker.net. But the best way to check your PageRank is with a browser plugin. A browser plugin will show you the PageRank for every page you visit online. That will help you get a feel for what scores are good for different kinds of sites.

We recommend:

How do you improve PageRank?

Get more links from other sites with high PageRanks. The best way to do this is to put your blog on your website and not on Blogger.com, Blogspot.com or WordPress.com. Your blog needs to be at www.YourName.com/blog or www.YourBookTitle.com/blog. Blog posts attract incoming links which boost your PageRank and traffic.

2. Social Proof

Social Proof

What is Social Proof?

Social Proof is an indication of people following you and your website. It is a combination of Facebook Likes, Twitter Retweets, Comments and Google +1s. People want to do what other people are doing. This turns social proof into a virtuous cycle. So getting more visitors can lead to getting even more visitors.

Why is Social Proof important?

Agents and Publishers need to be able to tell at a glance that your website is popular on social media. You want the first thought that comes to their mind to be, “Wow, this author is popular!” Most publishers lose money on over half the books they publish. To reduce their risk, they look for authors who already connect with a following online. They call this “platform” and it  reduces their risk of losing money on new authors.

How do you measure it?

Count your:

  • Facebook Likes (both your fan page and for blog posts)
  • +1 on Google
  • Twitter Retweets
  • Comments
  • Twitter Followers
  • RSS Subscribers
  • Email Subscribers

How do you improve it?

Boosting social proof is as simple as putting counters on your website. Believe it or not the mere presence of a counter will increase social engagement. You will notice that on Author Media, we have badges at the top of each post that show the number of Tweets, Likes, etc. Do the same on your website and then watch the number of shares increase. If you find this post helpful, feel free to share it on Facebook. 🙂

3. Alexa Rank

Alexa Logo

What is it?

Alexa tracks how much traffic websites get. They give each website a score (with 1 being the most popular website in the world). Agents and Publishers typically look for Alexa ranks lower than 500,000. They get particularly excited when the find a site with a score lower than 100,000.

Why is Alexa important?

The lower your Alexa rank, the higher your traffic. A low Alexa rank indicates that your website is already popular. Many browser plugins show the Alexa rank of websites automatically. This means savvy agents will check your Alexa rank within seconds of visiting your website.  You want thier reaction to your Alexa rank to be “wow” not “yuck.”

How do you measure it?

Go to www.alexa.com and enter your website in the search box on the homepage. Or use one of the Alexa browser toolbars.

How do you improve your Alexa rank?

Alexa measures traffic, so to increase your Alexa rank you will need to boost traffic to your site. The fastest way to boost your traffic is to bring your blog over from blogspot or blogger and integrate it into your website. When we did this for Mary DeMuth, her traffic went up 1000% the next month.

You can also sign up for our email tips newsletter and get our free guide How to Boost Traffic to Your Blog which will also apply to your website.

4. Compete Rank

Compete.com logo

What is it?

Compete is similar to Alexa in that it measures the traffic to your website. Like Alexa, a lower score is better. Compete is more accurate than Alexa but it doesn’t track as many websites. If you are just getting started, you will likely have a Compete rank of N/A.

Why is Compete important?

Compete is the most authoritative source of third party traffic (yes, better than Alexa). Not having a Compete rank hurts your chances of getting published. Publishers will lookup your Compete score long before they ask for your Google Analytics data.

How do you measure it?

Go to www.compete.com and enter your URL.

How do you improve it?

You improve your Compete rank the same way you improve your Alexa rank. You can also buy online PPC ads to drive traffic to your site. So you can boost traffic either by spending time creating valuable content or you can spend money buying ads.

5. Professional Design

Professional Website Design

Why is design important?

The quality of your site design reflects on how professional you are as an author. There are many wannabe authors on the internet with lame-looking websites. Publishers are not looking to sign these sorts of authors. The more professional your site, the more attractive you will be to publishers.

How do you measure design quality?

The quality of the design is the most subjective of these 7 elements. Your friends will generally tell you they like your site even if they secretly hate it. We recommend that you ask an impartial graphic designer what they think of your site. You can also schedule a free 15 minute consultation with us to look over your site.

How do you improve design?

6. WooRank

WooRank Logo

What is it?

WooRank is an amazing tool for measuring how good your website is. In many ways, it is a single score that summarizes all the others. It measures social proof, site traffic and how well-coded your site is. It will be the hot new tool for publishers to vet author websites in 2012.

Why is WooRank important?

WooRank looks at over 100 aspects of your website. It gauges everything except for design. Publishers will be using this tool or others like it to measure your website.

How do you get a WooRank?

Go to www.WooRank.com and enter your webiste. At the time of this writing WooRank is free.

How do you improve your WooRank?

WooRank is the most technical thing on this list. WooRank will give you recommendations on how to improve your score. Some will be easy and some will be tough. The easiest way to increase your WooRank is to email the report to your web company and have them implement the improvements for you.

7. Hubspot Marketing Grader

HubSpot Marketing Grader

What is it?

Marketing Grader (formerly Website Grader) is a tool to measure the effectiveness of your website.  Unlike Compete and Alexa that measure website traffic, Marketing Grader measures how effectively you are able to convert those visitors into book buyers.

Why is Marketing Grader important?

A website that gets a lot of traffic but makes no sales is unattractive to agents and publishers.

How do you get a grade?

Go to www.marketinggrader.com and enter your website along with a couple of competing websites. If you don’t know who your competition is, you need to spend more time researching your market.

How do you improve your grade?

The nice thing about Marketing Grader is that it will tell you exactly what to do to increase your score. If you need help, Author Media has coaching packages that will help you increase your website effectiveness. HubSpot can also help you.

What do you think? How should agents and publishers measure author websites?