Getting Boots Into Your Bookshop

Online shops and physical bookshops share some challenges and one is called traffic, getting people to actually come in the door.  Physical shops do this by being in a good location and by advertising, online shops do this with SEO.  There are many different forms of SEO, there’s all the traditional forms of SEO which include loading up your keywords, metatags and other technical things and then there’s the fun stuff which I’ll try to sort into some sort of logical order.  They all involve bringing people to your website in different manners.  The idea is to get as many good links to your website as possible and also to make people interested in coming to you.  They are also the electronic equivalent of getting to know your customers and letting them get to know you so it helps to make an effort to reach out and interact with them.

Links
You need as many good links back to your website as possible and you can do that in a number of ways.  You can exchange links with other website owners, you can find any number of freebie websites where you can list your website (but these ones aren’t quite so good), the best ones for a bookshop are those where people are already reading about books.

[Editor’s note: for any online venture links from related sites are crucial. Check out our advertising page for details on getting some here. We are a Google PR5 site (at the time of this writing)].

Keywords
Keywords are those words people put in their search engine and you need to put in all the words which are appropriate for your bookshop.  If you specialise in science fiction then you could probably put in the notable authors.  Don’t forget to put in all the regular stuff such as books, novels, bookstores and if you sell pre-loved books then you need to add in all the synonyms for secondhand.  Other people who are more expert will have focussed on this already and there’s a million and one blogs out there discussing this so this is all you get from me.

Blogging
Can be great fun if you have some sort of skill in writing.  I blog most days and mostly write about books but occasionally will put in a little about me.  My goal is to have 1,000+ views every day and I’ve got a long way to go to get there but I’m going to have a whole heap of fun in the process.  I write a review about every book I read and when it involves a book I’ll be selling on the website I put a link back to my website to state it’s for sale.  I also put a link on the listing on the website to lead people to the review to help them decide to buy it.  I also write about up and coming news, about conventions I hear about and will put in the personal stuff as I’ve attended a couple of conventions and even been on the committee for a couple of them.  Use your sense of humour and your personality as there are two things you’re trying to accomplish here, one to get more links back to your website and two is to make people interested in you and therefore your website.

Commenting on Blogs
This does involve reading other people’s blogs which is sometimes good and sometimes bad as it’s possible to spend all day reading blogs and get nothing done.  I once spent two days getting totally lost in the internet what with blogs, Facebook and Twitter and got absolutely nothing done except for dinner.  The important things here are to read and comment on blogs that are appropriate to your readership.  For example, if you sell mostly children’s books then commenting on parenting blogs is good.  Don’t forget to fill in your email address and url.  This is good for three things, creating a level of expertise so people learn about you and your knowledge of books, bringing people back to your website for browsing and buying and also for Google and other search engines, the more links you have the higher your ranking will be and the more people will see you when they search for books.  Again, use your sense of humour and your personality, try to comment regularly but not too often, you don’t want to overdo it. (feel free to get some practice in below this post)

Newsletter
This is an electronic version of the old style newsletter.  Have a link on your website so people can sign up for free.

Twitter
This is my personal favourite.  I’ve really enjoyed it.  You can find all sorts of guides for using Twitter out there in blogland, but what is working very nicely for me is to treat it as social time.  I catch up with friends, interact with authors and publishers and also potential customers.  I tweet updates with the website whether it’s down (as it is at the time of writing) or when it comes back up, I also tweet specials and different books I’ve just listed.  I’ve also had the occasional sale by tweeting about a particular book when I wanted to know if there was any market for it or if I should just send it straight back to the op shop and it sold within a few minutes.  I’m continuing this process as it’s very interesting.  The only challenge with Twitter is making each interaction take up 140 characters!

My Space and Facebook
Both of these can be heaven for the right person.  I believe they have different markets and so you’ll need to identify which is your market and target that one in particular.  I’ll focus on Facebook as I’ve never used My Space.  There are several different things you can do on Facebook, you can interact with people, giving updates on your business, or your blog etc, you can create a business page and attract fans, I haven’t focussed on my business page so I only have a few fans but I have friends with 1,300 fans and they use it for promoting their business, getting signups for their newsletter, advertising sales and just generally making connections.

Youtube, Flicker, Vimeo
These are all social networking sites.  Youtube and Vimeo are for videos and I’ve used them to look things up but never to upload things.  I have other friends in different businesses who use them to advertise their businesses but how would I use it?  Would I upload a video of me reading a book?  I can’t see that it would be a very useful video.  Vimeo is actually the better site but Youtube is used by more people so if you want to create a video ad for your business then Youtube is the way to go.  I have friends who’ve used Flicker to upload pictures of their holidays or the conventions they’ve gone to and then let people in to see them.  My first involvement with Flicker was after the First Australian Discworld Convention when the Director of the convention (he’s young, gorgeous, in IT and very with it technologically speaking) uploaded all the photos so we could see them.
A final note
There are other social networking sites out there that I haven’t mentioned and you can have a ball finding and using them but it could also take up all of your time posting to all of them as well as the blogs etc.  Here’s a list of some others but I do warn you there are more out there.  Digg, Delicious, LinkedIn and so many more…I’ve just found a list of over 200 more.  It’s possible to link several of them so you only have to post to one but that means you will lack the interaction and from my observations it’s the interactions that works.

You need to work out the level of involvement that suits you.  All of these things are just like being in a shop and interacting with the customers as they come in, some people just want to smile and browse while others want the whole conversation, in these online communities the conversation can sometimes take up a whole day or even more but you’ve really only spent a couple of minutes on it over the course of that day.

Warnings:
Be aware that whatever you put on the internet stays there and can be seen years in the future.  Stuff I wrote 10 years ago is still out there and can be searched and found so be wary of the amount of personal information you put up there.  I do not refer to the occupants of my house by name only by nicknames such as DD (dear daughter) or OH (other half) and that’s about the extent of it, I rarely mention when I’m going on holidays only that I’ve returned.

[Editor’s note: One of the best ways to get high quality one-way links (as Suzie discovered) is by guest posting on Google Trusted related blogs. Most blogs will allow a few links back to your site, including this one, and we even pay you. Here is information on getting on our waiting list of writers.]

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  1. Suzie

    Yesterday I found the perfect social networking site for a bookshop. It’s called Goodreads and it looks to be a great place for sharing your past, present and future reading. I signed up yesterday, a very easy process which included stating which books I’d read out of a very interesting list (no, I didn’t think to keep a copy) and I’ve already had one person ask to ‘friend’ me. Once you’ve ‘friended’ someone you can then see their other friends and the book they’re currently reading. You get to discuss your books and recommend books for others to read. There’s a whole lot more in there but it’s going to take time to browse the site and absorb everything.

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