The question for authors is no longer “Do I need a website?” but rather “What do I need on my website.” A lot of little things go into making a great author website.

Outgoing links evoke a powerful social response

Today I want to talk about links.  Links come in all shapes and sizes.  They are the foundation of the Internet and one of the most important elements of an author website. Incoming links are usually given the most importance.  These are the links out there on other sites which point to your site. They can be links you posted on Twitter, Facebook or an article site etc. or links from people who decided your website was worth sharing.  They should point to not only your main page but also a wide variety of other pages on your website, such as individual blog posts.  These kinds of links  are important but people often lose sight of how important outgoing links can be. Outgoing links can increase your websites exposure, as well as the appreciation and loyalty of visitors. Outgoing links are like reaching out to hold a hand, they evoke a powerful social response.

Your website will get great exposure if it has a lot of incoming links but Google love can get you more exposure too.  If your website becomes a source of good quality links, you get extra Google love.  Any opportunity to enhance your relationship with Google is worth the effort! Good quality links have descriptive text within the link.  For example A great search engine called Google , or even just Google, is better than “to visit the great search engine Google click here.”  Descriptive links are more appealing to people and more appealing to Google spiders.  (Hint: You want your incoming links to be descriptive like this too).

Even if you don’t think Google love is quite that important, links are also the path to extra reader  love.  Readers, in this case the visitors to your site, appreciate it when you include links to other pages with useful information on your topic, especially if it doesn’t benefit you in anyway to do so.  Make sure its a good quality link and you give them a brief blurb about why you are recommending they read it.  For example, “If You Build It, They Won’t Come: A Guide to Author Websites is an informative website about what makes an author website successful.” These kinds of links will endear you to your readers and sometimes also the recipients of that link.  If people notice you have linked to their page they may give you links in kind or even become loyal readers themselves.

Hint: If you want people to know that you have linked to them, both Facebook and Twitter have those little @-features that makes your posts more noticeable to the people you @-include.  For example, I might Tweet a link to this post and say “Learn how to have a great author website like @StephenieMMeyer:.”  Though I usually try to make it sound a little less corny than that!

If you are a more established author, your readers may have created fan sites about you.  A great way to reward them for their kindness is to create a links section or page just for fan sites (eg- Stephenie Meyer’s fan site page).  This doesn’t just thrill the creators of the fan sites, it communicates to all your readers that you appreciate fans.

Whenever you notice someone has linked to your page, whether from a fan site or other kind of site, reward them.  A simple thank you note, re-tweet, or reciprocal link can go a long way.  The more loyalty you evoke among your readers and fans the better.

Have you made use of  outgoing links on your website?