Reputation vs. Relevancy: understanding website traffic

There are a lot of authors who have no idea what to do with their website. And I’m not just talking about design (though I have in other posts, because it’s important).

So I thought I’d raise the subject of reputation vs. relevancy, hopefully to clarify how people are finding you.


If you build your reputation, people know about you.

So they search for your name or your site name.

I’m building a pretty big reputation for book marketing and book cover design.

But I still have to get in front of new people – either by publishing books, or getting other people to talk about me, or doing free work for people with larger platforms.

I’m always reaching out to see how I can help other people, or be involved in events, or speak at writer conferences. Sometimes I advertise or use boosted posts on Facebook.

I need to make an effort so people know who the hell I am and what I do.

It takes work… but if you can pull it off, people start talking and sharing and recommending me. So when they need help with a book launch or book cover design, they think – “Hey I know a guy who does that…” and they search for “Derek Murphy” or “Creativindie.”

If you’re writing romance novels, or thrillers, or inspirational self-help non-fiction, you need to be doing the same kind of things: partnering, attending events, doing cool stuff, writing guest posts. It helps if you know what you stand for, and you have a tagline, and a powerful author bio/byline and mission statement (why are you writing, what do you write, and for whom?)

The good thing is, it’s super easy to rank well for your specific name, or your book’s title, or your company – or it should be. When I started there were three or four other “Derek Murphys” I had to compete with… but there were ZERO “creativindies” (because I made that word up. On purpose. For this very reason).

If you have a common name and it’s taken, try using your middle name or add “author” to the end.


Relevancy is different – it means, how close are you to the results that people are searching for. If someone types “book cover design” into Google, I want to show up in the #1 slot. Doing so would triple or quadruple my business overnight.

I’m not there yet, though there are a few results on the first page that link to me or talk about me. And I’m still working on it.

You can become more relevant by getting blogs that talk about your subject to mention you. Or you can hack the system by writing guest posts about your subject on other blogs – bigger blogs with more traffic and more “Trust.”

If someone types in “best sci file space thrillers” or “awesome indie paranormal romance” do they find you? If that’s your genre, they SHOULD. Because it will mean much more traffic, and if you’ve set up your blog well, that will translate to more sales and email signups.

Publishing is kind of a numbers game. Sure the book itself (the story, the writing) matters THE MOST. And a super, amazing book in a very popular genre will be successful after enough people get the chance to read it. But when you start off, sometimes it’s hard to get ANYBODY to read it. And after you do a book launch, sometimes sales dry up and you disappear on Amazon because you rank over 1million.

It’s up to YOU to continue driving sales, and you do that by being relevant, so that your target readers keep finding your articles and posts, in the search results, on your blog or other blogs, that link to you and mention your book in the author byline.

It doesn’t take a ton of work; you can write 10 awesome articles on your site and 10 awesome articles split out on 10 other sites – think about what search terms you need to show up for, longer and more specific is better, then write articles using those terms in the title, and in the article itself.

Cast a wide net. Use Google keywords to find what search terms are being used (or the Amazon autocomplete). Write articles using those words. Spread them out on the internet.

You can also Google those keywords and phrases yourself and see what blogs show up on the first page – then contact ALL of those blogs and offer a guest post.

Reputation is important, and it works well and you need trust and visibility, but relevance is easier, if you can pull it off. Because I’ll tell you a secret, extremely few authors are even attempting to be relevant. They aren’t using these strategies. They aren’t trying to rank for specific long tail keywords.

So I’m pretty sure, for example, that when I finish my “paranormal mermaid romance novel” I’ll be able to rank on the first page of Google, because there just isn’t any competition. Of course I’ll also use that phrase as my book’s subtitle. Yes it seems fake and cheesy. But being relevant and showing up in search results is more important; the alternative is never being seen by anyone, at all.

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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