A friend of mine likes to frequent poetry and literature websites. Lately, he’s been sharing a few with me. As I browsed through some of the sites that he likes to read I began to notice that many of them weren’t very well optimized. The literature may have been good, but the pages were not optimized hardly at all. So I began to ask myself if it was even possible.
If you have a page of poems, each one on a different topic, and other pages on the same site containing poems, fiction stories, and nonfiction pieces, each about as optimized as the first and each about its own unique topic, how do you optimize for that?
Well, it got me thinking. Here are some notes that I came up with for optimizing a literary website:
- Try to pick a domain name that uses a variation of a literary word. For instance, poetry, fiction, literature, memoir, journal, etc. If you decide to go the creative route instead and name your online literary journal something completely off the wall and with no literary terms in its name then try adding a tagline that does include a literary term. You might, for example, use a tagline that says something like “Great literature for the discerning mind” or “Poetry, Fiction, and Potpourri”. You can still get creative with your tagline, but do try to include one or more literary words in it, particularly words that you want your site to rank well for.
- After your domain name, create your journal so that every piece of literature included is on a separate web page. That way you don’t have non-literary keywords relevant to the work itself competing with other non-literary words important to other works in the same journal. For instance, a short story about a black cat where “black cat” – or a similar phrase – is an often used phrase throughout and a poem about a dolphin can water each others optimization down so that both are ineffective. Ideally, you’d like the story about the black cat to appear in the SERPs for the search query “black cat” and the poem about the dolphin to likewise appear for a search for “dolphin”.
- Meta tags are very important for optimizing literary pages. Make sure your meta title, meta description, and meta keywords tags all use the keywords you want to rank for – literary and non-literary. For instance, for the dolphin poem you’ll want your page title to say something like “Dolphin – A Poem By Sinister Minister”. Your meta description should be similar: “This poem, titled ‘dolphin’, by Sinister Minister depicts a mammalian swimmer as a metaphor for life’s journey through pain and suffering.” Notice that both the title and description also use the author’s name. Your meta keywords should include “dolphin”, “poem”, “Sinister Minister” and any other words that are important to the poem itself as long as those words are used often enough to gain a seat. Otherwise, those three keywords are probably enough.
- If your pages include artwork, make sure to give them alt tags that are related to the literary work on the page and that target your important keywords. For instance, the abstract painting of a blue-gray blob that doesn’t resemble anything close to a dolphin but that you thought was cool and would look good on that page can have the alt tag “dolphin poem by Sinister Minister”. Who’s going to know?
- Inbound links from other pages on your site are also important. Make sure that your anchor text for links use the title of the work and possibly even the author’s name (optional). If possible, group your internal links by category; for example: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, memoir, etc. And use the title attribute for each of your links as well. In the title attribute, include the name of the work, the name of the author, and the type of work it is (poem, fiction, etc.).
If you stick to these general guidelines as the basics for optimizing your literary site, you should do well to rank your pages for important keywords. Then you’ll want to do some link building.