Creating Engaging Author Websites: Do’s and Don’ts

creating author websites

Website Tips for Authors

A well-crafted digital platform plays a pivotal role in shaping an author’s online presence. It functions dynamically as a hub for authorial engagement rather than a static representation. An author’s website acts as the initial point of contact with readers, agents, and the literary community. A thoughtfully designed website serves as a virtual storefront, offering visitors curated insights into the author’s brand. We’ll explore what works, what doesn’t, and the strategies that transform a website into a compelling destination.  

Professional Design

  • Opt for a clean and reader-friendly layout that enhances user experience.
  • Utilize high-quality images and graphics to create a visually appealing and polished website aesthetic.

I strove for a clean design when I created my homepage (shown above). Besides the top menu, site visitors are presented with one clear path: to download my free book.

Clear Navigation

  • Organize content logically to facilitate easy navigation for visitors.
  • Implement an intuitive menu structure that guides users seamlessly through different sections of the website.

Author Bio and Photo

  • Craft a compelling author bio that provides a glimpse into your personality and writing journey.
  • Include a professional author photo that adds a personal touch, fostering a connection with your audience.

This is your chance to display your personality. Have fun with your bio page and show potential readers that a real person lurks behind the books you publish.

Book Showcase

  • Create an eye-catching display of your published works to captivate visitors’ attention.
  • Provide detailed information about each book, including summaries, reviews, and purchase links for easy access.

Blog or News Section

  • Keep readers engaged with regular updates on your blog or news section.
  • Showcase your writing process, book releases, and author insights to offer a behind-the-scenes look into your creative world.

The Don’ts: What to Avoid When Making an Author Website 

Cluttered Design

  • Steer clear of overly complex or cluttered layouts that may overwhelm visitors.
  • Ensure a seamless and distraction-free user experience by simplifying design elements and prioritizing clarity.

I once worked with an SEO and marketing team, which I paid to redesign my website. The result was a cluttered mess. It took me weeks to sort out, and needless to say, I wasn’t pleased. 

Go with a clean, easy to navigate website from the beginning. You won’t regret the decision.

Neglecting Mobile Optimization

  • Recognize the importance of responsive design to cater to the increasing number of mobile users.
  • Check and optimize website functionality across devices, guaranteeing a consistent and user-friendly experience for all visitors.

Outdated Content

  • Regularly update information, including book releases and events, to keep the website current.
  • Avoid stagnant or irrelevant content that may deter visitors and diminish the overall quality of the site.

On my thriller author website, I publish new content about thriller topics every week. This strategy keeps my website relevant in Google and gives readers something new to digest whenever they visit.

Ignoring SEO Best Practices

  • Incorporate relevant keywords naturally throughout the content to enhance search engine visibility.
  • Utilize meta tags, alt text, and other SEO-friendly elements to maximize the website’s potential for discoverability and ranking.

Advanced Strategies for Engagement

Mailing List Integration:

Integrate a seamless mailing list subscription process on your author website, encouraging visitors to stay updated on your latest releases and news. Offer exclusive content, such as sneak peeks, bonus chapters, or author insights, as an incentive for subscribers. This not only fosters a sense of exclusivity but also builds a loyal readership by providing tangible value to your audience.

An email list is absolutely mandatory for every self-published author.

Social Media Integration:

Connect your social media profiles seamlessly to your website, creating a unified online presence. Leverage platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to expand your author reach. Regularly share updates about your writing journey, book releases, and engage with your audience. This integration not only enhances visibility but also facilitates a direct connection with readers who may prefer social media as their primary source of information.

Reader Interaction:

Create opportunities for reader interaction by encouraging comments and feedback on your website. Foster a sense of community by incorporating forums or discussion boards where readers can connect with each other. This not only deepens the engagement with your audience but also allows for a richer exchange of ideas and perspectives. 

SEO Optimized Best Practices for Author Websites

Keyword Integration:

Strategically embedding relevant keywords throughout your author website is critical for enhancing search engine visibility. This includes thoughtfully incorporating keywords into essential elements such as your author bio, book descriptions, and blog posts. The key lies in ensuring the integration feels natural and seamless, steering clear of an artificial or forced tone within the content. This approach not only caters to search engine algorithms but also ensures a positive user experience by delivering content that flows organically.

How do I handle SEO? I keep it simple. My preference is to put the keyword (or phrase) in the article title, then mention the same keyword in the first paragraph of the article. 

Don’t force it. If you write like an SEO marketer, you’ll turn off readers and cause Google to penalize your site.

Meta Tags Optimization:

Optimizing meta tags, encompassing title tags and meta descriptions, is crucial for providing concise and informative snippets that appear in search engine results. Crafting compelling and keyword-rich meta tags is an art, requiring accuracy in representing the content of each page. These snippets serve as the initial point of contact between your website and potential visitors, influencing click-through rates and overall discoverability in search engine rankings.

Image SEO:

Enhancing accessibility and contributing to search engine ranking involves thoughtful Image SEO practices. This includes using descriptive file names and alt text for images, providing context that search engines can interpret. Compressing images is equally crucial for optimizing page loading speed, a pivotal factor not only for search engine ranking but also for delivering a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

Mobile-Friendly Design:

Prioritizing a responsive design is fundamental to ensuring optimal viewing and functionality across various devices, from smartphones to tablets. With an ever-growing number of users accessing websites on mobile devices, regularly testing and refining the mobile user experience becomes imperative. A mobile-friendly design not only aligns with current user preferences but also positively influences search engine rankings, as mobile responsiveness is a key factor in algorithms.

Quality Content Creation:

Producing high-quality, relevant, and engaging content is the cornerstone of effective SEO for author websites. Aligned with your author brand, this content captivates your target audience and keeps them returning. Regular updates and additions to the website contribute to its freshness and appeal, satisfying both the preferences of readers and the criteria of search engines that prioritize active and dynamic sites.

On my thriller website, I review thrillers, offer best-of lists of authors and books, write about suspenseful movies, and occasionally touch on my own work.

Backlink Strategy:

Developing a robust backlink strategy involves securing high-quality, relevant links from reputable websites within the literary and publishing niche. It’s essential to foster natural and valuable connections, avoiding manipulative link-building practices. A thoughtfully executed backlink strategy not only enhances your website’s authority in the eyes of search engines but also establishes your presence within the broader online literary community.

Analytics Monitoring:

Implementing web analytics tools is crucial for monitoring the performance of your author website. These tools enable the tracking of user behavior, providing valuable insights into the effectiveness of your SEO strategies. Regular analysis of data helps identify areas for improvement and allows you to adapt your SEO approach in alignment with evolving search engine algorithms. This cyclical process of monitoring and refinement ensures that your website remains optimized for search engine visibility and user engagement.

How To Keep Your Content Maintained

Regular Audits:

Conducting routine audits of your website content is a fundamental practice to identify and rectify outdated information, broken links, or irrelevant material. By scheduling these audits regularly, you ensure the ongoing accuracy and relevance of your online presence. This proactive approach not only maintains the integrity of your website but also contributes to a positive user experience by presenting visitors with up-to-date and reliable information.

Book Releases and Events Updates:

Ensuring prompt updates for new book releases, author events, and other significant milestones is vital for keeping your audience informed. By consistently updating this information, you provide readers with a clear picture of your recent endeavors. Offering summaries or reviews for recently released works adds value to your website, enhancing reader engagement and fostering a sense of anticipation for upcoming events.

Blog Post Refresh:

Periodically reviewing and refreshing your blog posts is essential to ensure that the information aligns with your evolving authorial journey. This practice not only maintains the relevance of your content but also showcases the ongoing progression of your writing endeavors. Regularly updating or adding new content keeps readers engaged, encouraging them to return for fresh insights and perspectives.

Here’s something else you should do: Regularly audit your posts and delete any article which doesn’t match the other content on your website. 

As an example, I love The Smiths and their hilarious lyrics. A few years ago, I posted an article with my favorite song lyrics. The post brought me a lot of traffic, but it made no sense to include such an article on a website for thriller and horror fans. So I deleted it.

Author Bio Revisions:

Regularly revising your author bio is crucial to reflect any changes in your writing career, achievements, or personal milestones. By maintaining a current and compelling author bio, you ensure that visitors receive accurate and updated information about you. This bio serves as a key element in shaping your online identity and brand, resonating with readers and potential collaborators.

Engagement with Readers:

Fostering ongoing engagement with your readers is a dynamic aspect of content maintenance. Responding to comments and feedback promptly not only demonstrates your appreciation for reader interaction but also encourages a sense of community. By facilitating interaction through forums or discussion boards, you create a vibrant space for readers to connect, share thoughts, and build a collective appreciation for your work.

Optimized Multimedia:

Keeping multimedia elements, such as images and videos, up to date is essential for maintaining a visually appealing website. Regularly refreshing or replacing outdated multimedia content with materials that align with your current projects and branding contributes to a cohesive and professional online presentation. This attention to detail enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of your website.

SEO Content Review:

Regularly reviewing and updating content with a focus on SEO optimization is vital for sustaining consistent search engine visibility. This involves ensuring that keywords, meta tags, and other SEO elements remain relevant to current trends and algorithms. By staying proactive in optimizing your content, you enhance the chances of your website ranking prominently in search engine results, thereby attracting a broader audience.

Newsletter and Mailing List Updates:

Keeping subscribers informed about website updates, new releases, and exclusive content through regular newsletter updates is an effective communication strategy. Promptly removing or updating any outdated information in newsletters is essential for maintaining credibility and reader trust. By consistently delivering valuable and current content through newsletters, you reinforce the connection with your audience and encourage continued engagement.


Building a captivating author website requires an ongoing commitment past the initial creation. Beyond design and engagement, content maintenance and SEO practices emerge as the backbone for sustained success. Regular audits, timely updates, and dynamic content refreshes ensure your website’s accuracy and relevance, mirroring the evolution of your authorial journey. Crafting a compelling author bio, fostering engagement with readers, and optimizing multimedia elements contribute to the aesthetic appeal, creating a cohesive online presence.

SEO content reviews and consistent newsletter updates serve as the engines propelling your website’s visibility and audience connection. Integrating these practices transforms your author website from a static representation into a living extension of your literary identity, inviting readers to actively join you on the ever-unfolding path of creativity and discovery.

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