4 Surprising Conclusions About Author Websites

A few weeks ago, in preparation for a meeting with one of my biggest authors, I visited his website. I was reminded again how many authors think that by just hanging a website in cyberspace they are somehow building their brand. As it turns out, not so much.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/JohnnyLye, Image #524580

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/JohnnyLye

The site looked great. Nice graphics. Cool use of flash. Lots of razzle-dazzle. So I decided to run his site through WebsiteGrader.com. This simple tool is like a CAT-scan for websites. I was surprised at the poor results.

Based on this, I decided to do a little research. I next ran our top twelve bestselling authors through the same exercise. I won’t reveal the names of the authors for fear of embarrassing them, but I will tell you that Dave Ramsey scored the highest. He clearly knows what he is doing on the Web.

As you look at the results in the chart below, keep in mind:

  • Overall Web Grade is the WebsiteGrader.com grade. It is based on a complex set of criteria, including the items below.
  • Google Page Rank shows Google’s relative rank on a 1–10 scale. The higher the number the better.
  • Alexa Traffic Rank shows your absolute traffic ranking against all other websites in the world. It’s similar to the Nielsen Ratings. The lower the number, the better. For example, Dave’s rank—18,977—means his site is in the top 20,000 sites in the world. Since there are tens of millions, this is impressive.
  • Technorati Blog Rank shows absolute traffic ranking against all other blog sites in the world. If the blog is not registered with Technorati, then it is not ranked. (If you’re a blogger, this is why you should register your blog with Technorati.)

Here are the results:

Web Presence of Thomas Nelson’s Top Authors
Author Overall Web Grade Google Page Rank Alexa Traffic Rank Technorati Blog Rank
Dave Ramsey 99.9 6 18,977 1,218
Author 2 99.3 6 110,308 726,714
Author 3 93.0 5 52,288 N/A
Author 4 92.0 5 393,576 20,212
Author 5 91.0 5 427,192 N/A
Author 6 89.0 4 613,492 N/A
Author 7 86.0 4 674,324 213,437
Author 8 86.0 4 257,410 N/A
Author 9 82.0 4 402,066 N/A
Author 10 81.0 5 545,916 N/A
Author 11 79.0 4 548,447 N/A
Author 12 35.0 3 3,738,452 N/A

Here are my conclusions:

  1. Having a really slick, graphically-clever website does not necessarily correlate with more traffic. In fact, the ones that made use of the latest flash and embedded video technologies scored at the low-end of the traffic scale.
  2. Having a large media platform does not necessarily correlate with more traffic. Yes, Dave Ramsey has a huge media platform on both TV and radio. However, one of the authors with the biggest media platforms was dead last. Interestingly, if I were on the list, my site has the fourth largest traffic, and I have no media platform at all.
  3. Having a large organization behind you does not necessarily correlate with more traffic. Some authors with large organizations were near the top; some near the bottom.
  4. Having a young and hip image does does not necessarily correlate with more traffic. In fact, there seems to be an inverse correlation. Maybe the older authors work harder at it. Perhaps the younger authors think that being cool is enough. Regardless, most of the ones I assumed would be web-savvy are not—at least in terms of generating meaningful traffic.

The good news is that it is not that difficult for authors to build a powerful, online presence. Nor does it cost much. Tomorrow, I plan to post on “Seven Ways to Build Your Author Brand Online.” Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you want to get the most value out of this exercise, run your own site or blog through WebsiteGrader.com. This will give you a good snapshot of where you are now.

Question: How did your site score? For the sake of transparency, I’ll go first (scroll down)
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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    Here are my WebsiteGrader.com results:

    Overall Web Grade: 99.3
    Google Page Rank: 4
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 184,648
    Technorati Blog Rank: 13,031

    Note: these will fluctuate slightly because many of the rankings are relative. If someone’s site becomes more popular and outranks you, your site will move down. The opposite is also true.

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org/index.asp Jeff Goins

    Thanks for this post. In Nashville, I encounter a lot of writers and artists who go for the “cool factor” with their websites (lots of flash, static content, non-intuitive layout) and dearly pay for it. It turns out that really cool websites don’t really convince search engines of much. I’m a fan of alexa, but haven’t heard of websitegrader. Checking it out now. Thanks again!

  • http://www.lightalongthejourney.com John Hollandsworth

    Ok, Michael, I’ll jump in:
    I actually did better than I thought I would, considering I’ve done all the site content & web management just in my spare time:

    website grade: 94

  • http://wmarkwhitlock.com W. Mark Whitlock

    Another great tool you’ve uncovered for the rest of us. Thanks.

    We’ve been working on our commerce website for a while to help in these categories. For the ones you are tracking:

    Overall grade: 89
    Google PageRank: 5
    Alexa Traffic: 378,863
    Technorati: 127,509

    Even with these great numbers, there’s a lot of work to do. Our analytics show a difficult time converting from visitors to customers.

    Based on what we’ve learned, I need to apply the lessons to my own site which has the following grades:

    Overall grade: 77
    Google PageRank: 2
    Alexa Traffic: 6,550,677
    Technorati: 556,314

    As always, thanks for prompting me to be more productive AND be more intentional with the time I spend on business.

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    I checked this out when you twittered about it and was surprised at what I needed to do on mine. The report said I had too many images (not sure if that’s true because most readers like a peek into the author’s lives) It also says I need to own and redirect http://colleencoble.com not just http://www.colleencoble.com. It said I needed to have my website paid for longer so I paid for five years a couple of weeks ago.

    I’m working on it and will be very interested in your suggestions tomorrow! Here are my rankings:

    Overall web grade 79
    Google Page rank 4
    Alexa Traffic Rank 6,331,696
    Technorati 140,738

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/JeffHolton Jeffrey Holton

      Hey, Colleen. Yes, that redirect is a huge issue. Most people have realized that the "www" is really busy-work when it comes to typing, and they'd rather not do it. (Granted, some web browsers do it for them.)

      If you host your own site in Apache, there's a rule you can add to the configuration file that takes care of it. You can Google for it.

      If you have no idea what I just said, just ask your local geek to set it up. :)

  • Debabrata Das

    Hi another nice and helpful post. I just started my blog and these tools will be helpful to track my progress, thnx.

  • http://act2.spaces.live.com Alfred Thompson

    One other thing to check out independently, though these grade numbers probably reflect it to some extent, is where does the author web site show up when someone does a search engine seach for the author by name or of one of their books. I think that is a sign that more people would understand. The grader might then indicate how to fix a problem if one exists.

  • http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/ Ellen Weber

    Thanks for mentioning Mike, that this is one set of scores only. Mine is a new site and so the high traffic I’d had on a former site would have helped me here.

    My own recent startup site, motivates me to caution folks to see site startup date also, as a huge factor in calculating score results.

    In fact, while I was thrilled to pull an 83 score, on my 3 month-old site, I also could have grown a bit stoggy on my original blog, because of the great score my traffic levels obtained. Interesting new facts about the human brain show how scores can send our confidence up or down in useful or perilous ways to effect talent development. Why should we caution?

    We know that tests are normed for certain (often limited) factors only, rather than for human brains or genuine capability. We also know that one’s passion and growing development, as well as teachability online, are far better indicators of sustainable success online than a fixed rating through standardized scores:-)

    What it does measure, it may measure well, as long as we are careful not to filter good talent views through flawed rigor in tools that limit, the way we’ve filtered brains and results falsely in secondary and college tests.

    Simply put, it can get scary to see too much value in numerics that may lack validity or reliability when it comes to human intelligence or predicted success. Look forward to growing my own scores on a new site though, as well as learning from others as they grow and sustain online communities. This site is a great model to inspire us all! Thanks Mike and all.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    Here are my WebsiteGrader.com results:

    Overall Web Grade: 99.3
    Google Page Rank: 4
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 184,648
    Technorati Blog Rank: 13,031

    Note: these will fluctuate slightly because many of the rankings are relative. If someone’s site becomes more popular and outranks you, your site will move down. The opposite is also true.

  • http://www.heartchoices.com Debbie

    Thank you for posting. It was very helpful. I put my blog through the process and scored an 85! That was actually better than I anticipated. However, I’m now aware of things I can do to make improvements. I love to learn new things so I appreciate this very much.

  • http://www.callapidderdays.com Katrina @ Callapidder Days

    This was very interesting. I scored an 88 for my blog and was fascinated by some of the suggestions and underlying information. I’ll be switching hosts in the near future, and when I do, I’ll take advantage of this information to hopefully improve my score.

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org/index.asp Jeff Goins

    Thanks for this post. In Nashville, I encounter a lot of writers and artists who go for the "cool factor" with their websites (lots of flash, static content, non-intuitive layout) and dearly pay for it. It turns out that really cool websites don't really convince search engines of much. I'm a fan of alexa, but haven't heard of websitegrader. Checking it out now. Thanks again!

    • Dan Erickson

      I’m anti-flash, anti-drive. I just keep it simple and post real and creative work with no expectations of fame or fortune.

  • http://www.lightalongthejourney.com/ John Hollandsworth

    Ok, Michael, I'll jump in:
    I actually did better than I thought I would, considering I've done all the site content & web management just in my spare time:

    website grade: 94

  • http://wmarkwhitlock.com/ W. Mark Whitlock

    Another great tool you've uncovered for the rest of us. Thanks.

    We've been working on our commerce website for a while to help in these categories. For the ones you are tracking:

    Overall grade: 89
    Google PageRank: 5
    Alexa Traffic: 378,863
    Technorati: 127,509

    Even with these great numbers, there's a lot of work to do. Our analytics show a difficult time converting from visitors to customers.

    Based on what we've learned, I need to apply the lessons to my own site which has the following grades:

    Overall grade: 77
    Google PageRank: 2
    Alexa Traffic: 6,550,677
    Technorati: 556,314

    As always, thanks for prompting me to be more productive AND be more intentional with the time I spend on business.

  • http://flowerdust.net anne jackson

    Here’s mine. I have read that for some reason, even though I have meta info on my site, because it’s WordPress it’s been difficult to pick up. Evidently this confirmed that!

    Website Grade 89
    Google Page Rank 5
    Traffic Rank 519,667
    Blog Rank 4,866

  • http://www.colleencoble.com/ Colleen Coble

    I checked this out when you twittered about it and was surprised at what I needed to do on mine. The report said I had too many images (not sure if that's true because most readers like a peek into the author's lives) It also says I need to own and redirect http://colleencoble.com not just http://www.colleencoble.com. It said I needed to have my website paid for longer so I paid for five years a couple of weeks ago.

    I'm working on it and will be very interested in your suggestions tomorrow! Here are my rankings:

    Overall web grade 79
    Google Page rank 4
    Alexa Traffic Rank 6,331,696
    Technorati 140,738

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/JeffHolton Jeffrey Holton

      Hey, Colleen. Yes, that redirect is a huge issue. Most people have realized that the "www" is really busy-work when it comes to typing, and they'd rather not do it. (Granted, some web browsers do it for them.)

      If you host your own site in Apache, there's a rule you can add to the configuration file that takes care of it. You can Google for it.

      If you have no idea what I just said, just ask your local geek to set it up. :)

  • http://www.brandilyncollins.com Brandilyn Collins

    Although I’m a dedicated marketer, I’m not convinced rankings and traffic numbers are all that important. In fact one way to view your findings is to conclude top-selling authors don’t need high website traffic.

    My website isn’t interactive but is very informational about my books, including first chapters of all my novels. It would rank low in traffic, I’m sure. My blog used to rank in the 13,000s on Technorati. Now it’s in the 60,000s. Yet now it has higher readership. I’d added blog rolls to my template to drive down the Technorati rating. But they really added to load time for Forensics and Faith. After about a year of this I figured out why the load time was so slow and cleaned out my template–which resulted in a poorer Technorati rating, but fixed the blog load time. My readers thanked me. Result–now even higher readership.

    Still–does this increased blog readership mean higher book sales? The bottom line for me is selling more books. Sometimes I think we can get too focused on traffic numbers. Better traffic numbers/rankings don’t necessarily equal higher sales.

  • Debabrata Das

    Hi another nice and helpful post. I just started my blog and these tools will be helpful to track my progress, thnx.

  • http://act2.spaces.live.com/ Alfred Thompson

    One other thing to check out independently, though these grade numbers probably reflect it to some extent, is where does the author web site show up when someone does a search engine seach for the author by name or of one of their books. I think that is a sign that more people would understand. The grader might then indicate how to fix a problem if one exists.

  • http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/ Ellen Weber

    Thanks for mentioning Mike, that this is one set of scores only. Mine is a new site and so the high traffic I'd had on a former site would have helped me here.

    My own recent startup site, motivates me to caution folks to see site startup date also, as a huge factor in calculating score results.

    In fact, while I was thrilled to pull an 83 score, on my 3 month-old site, I also could have grown a bit stoggy on my original blog, because of the great score my traffic levels obtained. Interesting new facts about the human brain show how scores can send our confidence up or down in useful or perilous ways to effect talent development. Why should we caution?

    We know that tests are normed for certain (often limited) factors only, rather than for human brains or genuine capability. We also know that one's passion and growing development, as well as teachability online, are far better indicators of sustainable success online than a fixed rating through standardized scores:-)

    What it does measure, it may measure well, as long as we are careful not to filter good talent views through flawed rigor in tools that limit, the way we've filtered brains and results falsely in secondary and college tests.

    Simply put, it can get scary to see too much value in numerics that may lack validity or reliability when it comes to human intelligence or predicted success. Look forward to growing my own scores on a new site though, as well as learning from others as they grow and sustain online communities. This site is a great model to inspire us all! Thanks Mike and all.

  • http://www.heartchoices.com/ Debbie

    Thank you for posting. It was very helpful. I put my blog through the process and scored an 85! That was actually better than I anticipated. However, I'm now aware of things I can do to make improvements. I love to learn new things so I appreciate this very much.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    I just noticed my Google Ranking went from 4 to 5. Strange. (By the way, if you install the Google Toolbar in your browser, it will show you the page rank of every page you visit.)

  • http://www.callapidderdays.com/ Katrina @ Callapidde

    This was very interesting. I scored an 88 for my blog and was fascinated by some of the suggestions and underlying information. I'll be switching hosts in the near future, and when I do, I'll take advantage of this information to hopefully improve my score.

  • http://flowerdust.net/ anne jackson

    Here's mine. I have read that for some reason, even though I have meta info on my site, because it's WordPress it's been difficult to pick up. Evidently this confirmed that!

    Website Grade 89
    Google Page Rank 5
    Traffic Rank 519,667
    Blog Rank 4,866

  • http://www.brandilyncollins.com/ Brandilyn Collins

    Although I'm a dedicated marketer, I'm not convinced rankings and traffic numbers are all that important. In fact one way to view your findings is to conclude top-selling authors don't need high website traffic.

    My website isn't interactive but is very informational about my books, including first chapters of all my novels. It would rank low in traffic, I'm sure. My blog used to rank in the 13,000s on Technorati. Now it's in the 60,000s. Yet now it has higher readership. I'd added blog rolls to my template to drive down the Technorati rating. But they really added to load time for Forensics and Faith. After about a year of this I figured out why the load time was so slow and cleaned out my template–which resulted in a poorer Technorati rating, but fixed the blog load time. My readers thanked me. Result–now even higher readership.

    Still–does this increased blog readership mean higher book sales? The bottom line for me is selling more books. Sometimes I think we can get too focused on traffic numbers. Better traffic numbers/rankings don't necessarily equal higher sales.

  • http://rcwriter.wordpress.com Rhonda Clark

    Thanks so much for this tool. My score is 60. Not bad considering I’m just starting to market myself as a writer, and my site isn’t finished yet. I will be taking their suggestions and doing what I can to improve my score, and my internet visibility.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    I just noticed my Google Ranking went from 4 to 5. Strange. (By the way, if you install the Google Toolbar in your browser, it will show you the page rank of every page you visit.)

  • http://www.brandilyncollins.com Brandilyn Collins

    Methinks I am a better lurker than commenter. Regarding my website, I should have said I know it would rank poorly in traffic (since in this case low = good).

    Looking forward to your follow-up to this thought-provoking post as I continue to struggle with how best to use my marketing time.

  • http://www.beautyfromtheheart.org Hannah

    Hmm. I’ve never used this site before. It’s nice seeing all the info in one place, and I’d like to compare it with Google Analytics’ Benchmarking feature. (Benchmarking compares your site’s statistics with similar sites.)

    My results were… *drumroll*

    Grade: 82
    Google Page Rank: 4
    Google Indexed Pages: 369
    Blog Rank: 133,817
    Inbound Links: 8,312

    I did notice that the results were inaccurate when detecting how many people subscribed to the RSS feed.

  • http://rcwriter.wordpress.com/ Rhonda Clark

    Thanks so much for this tool. My score is 60. Not bad considering I'm just starting to market myself as a writer, and my site isn't finished yet. I will be taking their suggestions and doing what I can to improve my score, and my internet visibility.

  • http://www.brandilyncollins.com/ Brandilyn Collins

    Methinks I am a better lurker than commenter. Regarding my website, I should have said I know it would rank poorly in traffic (since in this case low = good).

    Looking forward to your follow-up to this thought-provoking post as I continue to struggle with how best to use my marketing time.

  • http://www.beautyfromtheheart.org/ Hannah

    Hmm. I've never used this site before. It's nice seeing all the info in one place, and I'd like to compare it with Google Analytics' Benchmarking feature. (Benchmarking compares your site's statistics with similar sites.)

    My results were… *drumroll*

    Grade: 82
    Google Page Rank: 4
    Google Indexed Pages: 369
    Blog Rank: 133,817
    Inbound Links: 8,312

    I did notice that the results were inaccurate when detecting how many people subscribed to the RSS feed.

  • http://robert.epictales.org Robert Treskillard

    Wow, Mike, you found an excellent website analyzer. Thank you for sharing that.

    The main action points I received is to get my meta-data setup, and also to register with Yahoo, DMOZ, and ZoomInfo.

    Overall grade: 64
    Google PageRank: 3
    Alexa Traffic: 9,492,875
    Technorati: 170,436

    Also, even though I have a sign-up form on my website, I haven’t embedded it on my main page, and I think I need to do that. One less click for a reader can be important.

  • Joe Sheehan

    Mike, i have a fundamental question. Why does it matter? Does a powerful online presence really make you a better author? I’m not convinced the two are well-correlated. Word-of-mouth recommendations would probably convince me to read an author more than an obscure web site ranking. Esp. if none their writing was online.

    One counterexample I’m thinking of here is Peggy Noonan. Her website traffic rankings are low while she is very popular as a writer/speaker. Although, she became famous in a different era. So is this post aimed more towards up-and-coming authors?

  • http://robert.epictales.org/ Robert Treskillard

    Wow, Mike, you found an excellent website analyzer. Thank you for sharing that.

    The main action points I received is to get my meta-data setup, and also to register with Yahoo, DMOZ, and ZoomInfo.

    Overall grade: 64
    Google PageRank: 3
    Alexa Traffic: 9,492,875
    Technorati: 170,436

    Also, even though I have a sign-up form on my website, I haven't embedded it on my main page, and I think I need to do that. One less click for a reader can be important.

  • Joe Sheehan

    Mike, i have a fundamental question. Why does it matter? Does a powerful online presence really make you a better author? I'm not convinced the two are well-correlated. Word-of-mouth recommendations would probably convince me to read an author more than an obscure web site ranking. Esp. if none their writing was online.

    One counterexample I'm thinking of here is Peggy Noonan. Her website traffic rankings are low while she is very popular as a writer/speaker. Although, she became famous in a different era. So is this post aimed more towards up-and-coming authors?

  • http://www.PFMinistries.com Paula Friedrichsen

    Great post Michael. I’m proud as punch to let the word know that my website scored a 20! That’s good right? :0) I guess I have some work to do in website marketing.

  • http://www.PFMinistries.com/ Paula Friedrichsen

    Great post Michael. I'm proud as punch to let the word know that my website scored a 20! That's good right? :0) I guess I have some work to do in website marketing.

  • http://www.caraputman.com Cara Putman

    Thanks for this article and looking forward to the next. I’m ready to make some changes to my web presence and have been praying about what elements should be added/dropped. It’s an ethereal goal for a writer. Must have a web presence but learning how to do it “right” is tricky. Getting ready to go run my blog and website through those tools.

  • John Young

    Your best authors are in a hole for 9 months writing and probably are out of touch with website thinking and in fact probably seldom look at their own website.
    Long form book authors are a different animal and some authors just don’t like doing “retail and promotion” in general, even tho all of life is constantly “selling” and the smart authors continually take advantage of the thousands of dollars in free air time for interviews and do book signings to meet and thank fans.

    How do you get an author to add this to his “to do list.”

    All publishers like Nelson provide crafting assistance to an author like a ghost writer, an editor, considerable effort to a cover and title.

    So if you’re a partner with the author rather than a vendor, and considering this stuff would be considered rather “pop culture” perhaps to many of your authors especially those who are ministries, wouldn’t Nelson, Random House, Simon & schuster, Zondervan all actually benefit from seeing website construction or upgrades as part of the marketing process offered.

    Website design is a fast changing item and I’m lost at times with all the demands on a schedule to sort thru the hype of every free lancer calling assuring me he can deliver a dazzling website. So this execution just seems to be a great opportunity for the publisher to have an edge with a career.
    You want another Lucado, Maxwell,or Beth Moore and this sure is an area of career development you can help with.
    Careful if our friend Sealy Yates reads this, he might make this an amendment to all future contracts! Thanks for this one.

  • http://www.caraputman.com/ Cara Putman

    Thanks for this article and looking forward to the next. I'm ready to make some changes to my web presence and have been praying about what elements should be added/dropped. It's an ethereal goal for a writer. Must have a web presence but learning how to do it "right" is tricky. Getting ready to go run my blog and website through those tools.

  • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

    Overall Web Grade: 71
    Google Page Rank: 3
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 5,489,946
    Technorati Blog Rank: 2,598,692
    Readability Level: College Undergraduate

    My score could be better, but it seems to me that their method needs some work. The three interior pages they selected for analysis happen to be the three least optimized pages. Most people enter my site through an interior page. Microsoft has a grade of 81 and that’s with 51,503,890 inbound links, which is a much more important number than an arbitrary score.

  • John Young

    Your best authors are in a hole for 9 months writing and probably are out of touch with website thinking and in fact probably seldom look at their own website.
    Long form book authors are a different animal and some authors just don't like doing "retail and promotion" in general, even tho all of life is constantly "selling" and the smart authors continually take advantage of the thousands of dollars in free air time for interviews and do book signings to meet and thank fans.

    How do you get an author to add this to his "to do list."

    All publishers like Nelson provide crafting assistance to an author like a ghost writer, an editor, considerable effort to a cover and title.

    So if you're a partner with the author rather than a vendor, and considering this stuff would be considered rather "pop culture" perhaps to many of your authors especially those who are ministries, wouldn't Nelson, Random House, Simon & schuster, Zondervan all actually benefit from seeing website construction or upgrades as part of the marketing process offered.

    Website design is a fast changing item and I'm lost at times with all the demands on a schedule to sort thru the hype of every free lancer calling assuring me he can deliver a dazzling website. So this execution just seems to be a great opportunity for the publisher to have an edge with a career.
    You want another Lucado, Maxwell,or Beth Moore and this sure is an area of career development you can help with.
    Careful if our friend Sealy Yates reads this, he might make this an amendment to all future contracts! Thanks for this one.

  • http://www.timothyfish.net/ Timothy Fish

    Overall Web Grade: 71
    Google Page Rank: 3
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 5,489,946
    Technorati Blog Rank: 2,598,692
    Readability Level: College Undergraduate

    My score could be better, but it seems to me that their method needs some work. The three interior pages they selected for analysis happen to be the three least optimized pages. Most people enter my site through an interior page. Microsoft has a grade of 81 and that's with 51,503,890 inbound links, which is a much more important number than an arbitrary score.

  • Troy

    Joe-very thought provoking question, what really does make an author better? I believe that is the real question and a difficult one to answer. In reference to your initial question, yes (and no),an on-line presence matters?

    As Mike referred to, it has mattered for Dave Ramsey. However, it’s all part of Dave’s brand strategy. Dave Ramsey just happens to be the brand hub and all his various mediums–radio, television,on-line, print, etc leverage his brand and work together connectively (for a common good) to increase its visiblity and viability.

    Now take mega author Max Lucado, who has sold a lot more books than Dave Ramsey, he doesn’t have (or rely on) the on-line presence of Ramsey. Lucado’s brand strategy is different, more diverse in some ways–relying less on mediums than Ramsey but has capitalized more (over time) on word of mouth, traditional marketing strategies, and volume of total sku (products) in the marketplace.

    The publishing model I’m involved in relies almost 100% on an on-line presence (both representing authored and non-authored titles)but it’s what we do with the content that creates the viral movement back to increasing an author’s brand presence as well as moving over 2 million books a year and having 60 million people interact with our content and be introduced to our publishing brand.

    Bottom line, it all starts with great content. That’s what makes an author better. Beyond that, it’s the team around him–strategic publishing team, author team–can be one person, 10, or 20 person strong, publicist, etc–the team number doesn’t matter it’s how you leverage the author’s platform(s) and content and how that plays into the author’s strengths, the strategy, and its execution–will best determine the results.

    John, I believe it’s all the above. You can have the best on-line presence and tool but if the on-line is not effectively leveraging other connectors (components of the brand) then it doesn’t matter. The brand has to be working together driving momentum and presence from all the other components.

  • Troy

    Joe-very thought provoking question, what really does make an author better? I believe that is the real question and a difficult one to answer. In reference to your initial question, yes (and no),an on-line presence matters?

    As Mike referred to, it has mattered for Dave Ramsey. However, it's all part of Dave's brand strategy. Dave Ramsey just happens to be the brand hub and all his various mediums–radio, television,on-line, print, etc leverage his brand and work together connectively (for a common good) to increase its visiblity and viability.

    Now take mega author Max Lucado, who has sold a lot more books than Dave Ramsey, he doesn't have (or rely on) the on-line presence of Ramsey. Lucado's brand strategy is different, more diverse in some ways–relying less on mediums than Ramsey but has capitalized more (over time) on word of mouth, traditional marketing strategies, and volume of total sku (products) in the marketplace.

    The publishing model I'm involved in relies almost 100% on an on-line presence (both representing authored and non-authored titles)but it's what we do with the content that creates the viral movement back to increasing an author's brand presence as well as moving over 2 million books a year and having 60 million people interact with our content and be introduced to our publishing brand.

    Bottom line, it all starts with great content. That's what makes an author better. Beyond that, it's the team around him–strategic publishing team, author team–can be one person, 10, or 20 person strong, publicist, etc–the team number doesn't matter it's how you leverage the author's platform(s) and content and how that plays into the author's strengths, the strategy, and its execution–will best determine the results.

    John, I believe it's all the above. You can have the best on-line presence and tool but if the on-line is not effectively leveraging other connectors (components of the brand) then it doesn't matter. The brand has to be working together driving momentum and presence from all the other components.

  • http://thecollegekid.wordpress.com/2007/01/25/top-ramen-noodles-are-the-substance-of-college/ Daniel Clark

    Hey Michael, and friends:

    I’m in agreement that it comes down to context, content, and confusion ;).

    Context – all good works require being read in proper context. The Bible, Shakespeare, and my own journals.

    Content – are we saying something worth while? Clever. Intellegent. Annalogous to our own situation. Or, simply something that people want to read. Does it fit their context? Does it have good content?

    Confusion – for seriously. Who chooses to read something if they aren’t confused by some clever and in conspicuous illiteration :)
    .
    .
    .

    All that being said. Our work must be (a)typical. It must draw out the image of their creator. And :) cause we-thepeople-too smile.

    Thanks for reading guys – and it is a real pleasure to be able to blog with y’all.

    -dc

    Oh:
    http://www.thecollegekid.wordpress.com 18 Not Ranked 0 19,422,019 2,598,692 N/A 0
    http://www.michaelhyatt.com 99.2 4 590 186,333 13,024 52,534 69

  • http://thecollegekid.wordpress.com/2007/01/25/top-ramen-noodles-are-the-substance-of-college/ Daniel Clark

    Hey Michael, and friends:

    I'm in agreement that it comes down to context, content, and confusion ;).

    Context – all good works require being read in proper context. The Bible, Shakespeare, and my own journals.

    Content – are we saying something worth while? Clever. Intellegent. Annalogous to our own situation. Or, simply something that people want to read. Does it fit their context? Does it have good content?

    Confusion – for seriously. Who chooses to read something if they aren't confused by some clever and in conspicuous illiteration :)
    .
    .
    .

    All that being said. Our work must be (a)typical. It must draw out the image of their creator. And :) cause we-thepeople-too smile.

    Thanks for reading guys – and it is a real pleasure to be able to blog with y'all.

    -dc

    Oh: http://www.thecollegekid.wordpress.com 18 Not Ranked 0 19,422,019 2,598,692 N/A 0 http://www.michaelhyatt.com 99.2 4 590 186,333 13,024 52,534 69

  • http://www.DonaldJamesParker.com Donald James Parker

    Holy cow! I ran the tool against my website and found a number of deficiencies. The amount of information included in their report is amazing. This is an awesome utility! Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I think Brandilyn has a point – visits don’t necessary translate into sales – but at least they have the potential to generate sales. Brandilyn – keep commenting. We covet your feedback.

  • http://www.DonaldJamesParker.com/ Donald James Parker

    Holy cow! I ran the tool against my website and found a number of deficiencies. The amount of information included in their report is amazing. This is an awesome utility! Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I think Brandilyn has a point – visits don't necessary translate into sales – but at least they have the potential to generate sales. Brandilyn – keep commenting. We covet your feedback.

  • http://www.teawithtiffany.blogspot.com Tiffany Stuart

    I loved this tool. Thank you for offering readers with valuable resources. I’m looking forward to working on this.

    These are my blog numbers.

    Website grade 63
    Google Page Rank 3
    Traffic Rank 11,356,793
    Blog Rank 1,220,093

    Actually it got me so excited to make changes that I lost my blogger template in the process of making changes and upgrading my software. After 3 plus years, it’s gone. Luckily, I saved it in a Word doc. But the coding will not work now. Sad and frustrated. Not techy.

    My professional website is dead. Not effective. I don’t use it like I should. It’s hard when I try to learn on my own. It’d be nice to get a class in html or something. Or marketing. Going solo is not working.

  • http://www.teawithtiffany.blogspot.com/ Tiffany Stuart

    I loved this tool. Thank you for offering readers with valuable resources. I'm looking forward to working on this.

    These are my blog numbers.

    Website grade 63
    Google Page Rank 3
    Traffic Rank 11,356,793
    Blog Rank 1,220,093

    Actually it got me so excited to make changes that I lost my blogger template in the process of making changes and upgrading my software. After 3 plus years, it's gone. Luckily, I saved it in a Word doc. But the coding will not work now. Sad and frustrated. Not techy.

    My professional website is dead. Not effective. I don't use it like I should. It's hard when I try to learn on my own. It'd be nice to get a class in html or something. Or marketing. Going solo is not working.

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com Mike Rapp, Generator LLC

    Mike,

    My old friend and cohort, Dennis Disney, has worked with me for the last two years to build a cheaper, better and more effective way to create artist and author web sites. Without going into much detail for obvious reasons, I had seen proposals from the big name in that business and was absolutely dumbstruck at the amount of cash they demanded to build and host a web site. I though it would be expensive, but I had no idea what expensive was. I felt strongly that I had the expertise, experience and connections to build an alternative.

    We partnered with a web development company to create a custom content management system that makes it easy to build and manage totally custom web sites. (www.generatornetwork.com/cms) This is, with all due respect, not WordPress or Typepad; This is the Full Monty: email list signup, ecommerce, photo galleries, videos, search engine optimization (on steriods), scalable drag-and-drop site maps, and much more.

    And, we can do it — and have done it — for about half of what “the other guys” are doing it for. Check out http://www.martymagehee.com and http://www.waynewatson.com. We’re also launching a new site for Place of Hope Ministries, and awesome substance abuse ministry here in Nashville.

    The thing that I am very concerned about, though, is the chasm of knowledge that exists between authors/artists and what is really happening out there on the web. In a real literal sense, they are almost all clueless, and the ones who are the most dangerous are often the ones who think they aren’t clueless. No doubt you understand what I am saying.

    That chasm, ultimately, boils down to two things: money and time. Put simply, they all want to make money, but none of them want to spend money or time to make it happen. They expect you guys to foot the bill and “manage things” day to day. Most of them complain about “having” to post to their blog on a regular basis, let alone contribute new content.

    And those days are quickly melting into the past. The day is now here where if they are not personally, actively creating new content, they won’t HAVE any content.

    Authors who care about their brand image really have little choice but to invest in the web. And they have to do it yesterday. The web, like it or not, is the single most powerful way that their customers are connecting to their content — and if they aren’t the prime mover of their brand image, then their career is literally at the whim of the invisible web.

    Mike, the main thing you can do to help folks like us is to help us, help you. Everyone right now is scared and nervous. Lord knows I am: I just had a client for whom I’d spent four months working on a new site walk out the door the day before launch. We lost well into five figures in one meeting.

    If Thomas Nelson does want to support their authors, and I know you guys do, then you must get proactive in pushing them — yes, requiring them — to work with people like us. We can help them make things happen, but they have to take the step and commit to the future, and not simply wait for it to arrive at their doorstep.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Mike: I totally agree with you. I had one author ask me, “Who do you use to write your blog?” I was totally taken back by the question. He obviously doesn’t get it. The amazing thing is that he is himself a writer!

    There is no substitute for authors getting personally involved. The ones that do it will survive and prosper. Those that don’t will be swept out to sea.

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com/ Mike Rapp, Generator

    Mike,

    My old friend and cohort, Dennis Disney, has worked with me for the last two years to build a cheaper, better and more effective way to create artist and author web sites. Without going into much detail for obvious reasons, I had seen proposals from the big name in that business and was absolutely dumbstruck at the amount of cash they demanded to build and host a web site. I though it would be expensive, but I had no idea what expensive was. I felt strongly that I had the expertise, experience and connections to build an alternative.

    We partnered with a web development company to create a custom content management system that makes it easy to build and manage totally custom web sites. (www.generatornetwork.com/cms) This is, with all due respect, not WordPress or Typepad; This is the Full Monty: email list signup, ecommerce, photo galleries, videos, search engine optimization (on steriods), scalable drag-and-drop site maps, and much more.

    And, we can do it — and have done it — for about half of what "the other guys" are doing it for. Check out http://www.martymagehee.com and http://www.waynewatson.com. We're also launching a new site for Place of Hope Ministries, and awesome substance abuse ministry here in Nashville.

    The thing that I am very concerned about, though, is the chasm of knowledge that exists between authors/artists and what is really happening out there on the web. In a real literal sense, they are almost all clueless, and the ones who are the most dangerous are often the ones who think they aren't clueless. No doubt you understand what I am saying.

    That chasm, ultimately, boils down to two things: money and time. Put simply, they all want to make money, but none of them want to spend money or time to make it happen. They expect you guys to foot the bill and "manage things" day to day. Most of them complain about "having" to post to their blog on a regular basis, let alone contribute new content.

    And those days are quickly melting into the past. The day is now here where if they are not personally, actively creating new content, they won't HAVE any content.

    Authors who care about their brand image really have little choice but to invest in the web. And they have to do it yesterday. The web, like it or not, is the single most powerful way that their customers are connecting to their content — and if they aren't the prime mover of their brand image, then their career is literally at the whim of the invisible web.

    Mike, the main thing you can do to help folks like us is to help us, help you. Everyone right now is scared and nervous. Lord knows I am: I just had a client for whom I'd spent four months working on a new site walk out the door the day before launch. We lost well into five figures in one meeting.

    If Thomas Nelson does want to support their authors, and I know you guys do, then you must get proactive in pushing them — yes, requiring them — to work with people like us. We can help them make things happen, but they have to take the step and commit to the future, and not simply wait for it to arrive at their doorstep.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Mike: I totally agree with you. I had one author ask me, “Who do you use to write your blog?” I was totally taken back by the question. He obviously doesn’t get it. The amazing thing is that he is himself a writer!

    There is no substitute for authors getting personally involved. The ones that do it will survive and prosper. Those that don’t will be swept out to sea.

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com Mike Rapp, Generator LLC

    The question I get all the time, though, is how do you generate community? There are very proven ways to get things moving – message boards, proactive email, web-only content. Some people just do it intuitively, as you have done here with your blog.

    Ironically, though, authors often seem to be the worst at connecting with and listening to even their hardest core fans. Why is that? I have some ideas. But none of them probably explain it entirely.

    For authors looking for a way to transition to “the new world,” the web doesn’t have to be scary or even uber-expensive. But you can’t sit on the sidelines and wait for an advance check. You have to step forward, ask questions, and commit to the future.

    Tim Corbin, the baseball coach at Vanderbilt, is a close friend of mine. He told me once that the good hitters anticipate that the next pitch will be a strike, and they get their bat in motion before the ball is thrown. Then, they choose to NOT swing. That, to me, was the single best analogy for authors and the web. Move the bat, PLAN to get a hit, and decide to not swing.

    If you are sitting with the bat on your shoulder, you’re never going to get the bat around fast enough to hit anything.

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com/ Mike Rapp, Generator

    The question I get all the time, though, is how do you generate community? There are very proven ways to get things moving – message boards, proactive email, web-only content. Some people just do it intuitively, as you have done here with your blog.

    Ironically, though, authors often seem to be the worst at connecting with and listening to even their hardest core fans. Why is that? I have some ideas. But none of them probably explain it entirely.

    For authors looking for a way to transition to "the new world," the web doesn't have to be scary or even uber-expensive. But you can't sit on the sidelines and wait for an advance check. You have to step forward, ask questions, and commit to the future.

    Tim Corbin, the baseball coach at Vanderbilt, is a close friend of mine. He told me once that the good hitters anticipate that the next pitch will be a strike, and they get their bat in motion before the ball is thrown. Then, they choose to NOT swing. That, to me, was the single best analogy for authors and the web. Move the bat, PLAN to get a hit, and decide to not swing.

    If you are sitting with the bat on your shoulder, you're never going to get the bat around fast enough to hit anything.

  • http://owlhaven.net/ Mary Ostyn

    My website got an 89, with a Google pagerank of 4, an Alexa ranking in the top 4.48%, and a Technorati ranking in the top 0.03%.
    very interesting tool– thanks for sharing!

    Mary Ostyn
    author
    A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family

  • http://owlhaven.net Mary Ostyn

    My website got an 89, with a Google pagerank of 4, an Alexa ranking in the top 4.48%, and a Technorati ranking in the top 0.03%.
    very interesting tool– thanks for sharing!

    Mary Ostyn
    author
    A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family

  • http://artistvault.net/ Melomann

    Wanna to gift you some mp3 dance pop mp3 songs from my own archive. Enjoy! P.S. Wish you all happy easter! :)

  • http://artistvault.net Melomann

    Wanna to gift you some mp3 dance pop mp3 songs from my own archive. Enjoy! P.S. Wish you all happy easter! :)

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  • http://twitter.com/ucffool @ucffool

    Site: http://www.phpreferencebook.com
    Grade: 95.4
    PageRank: 3
    Alexa: 877,119
    Technorati: 1,633,786

  • http://twitter.com/ucffool @ucffool

    Site: http://www.phpreferencebook.com
    Grade: 95.4
    PageRank: 3
    Alexa: 877,119
    Technorati: 1,633,786

  • http://tsuzanneeller.com/ Suzanne Eller

    My grade was a 93, and I loved that it offered tips on how to improve that ranking. Thank you for such a great tool!

  • http://tsuzanneeller.com/ Suzanne Eller

    My grade was a 93, and I loved that it offered tips on how to improve that ranking. Thank you for such a great tool!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JeffHolton Jeffrey Holton

    Point #1 is in complete support for why I despise MySpace.

    A screen full of busy, splashy, gimmicky Flash graphics just overruns my processor, drives up the heat on the bottom of the case, and is generally the precise opposite of the Green principles we're supposedly trying to develop and maintain. I am sorry to report that I have a MySpace account (mostly out of perceived necessity for keeping contact with a few folks), but I will not be at all upset if they decide one day to go belly up.

    For what it's worth, I find your design here remarkably visually attractive and processor friendly. It's a good paradigm for others to use.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JeffHolton Jeffrey Holton

    Point #1 is in complete support for why I despise MySpace.

    A screen full of busy, splashy, gimmicky Flash graphics just overruns my processor, drives up the heat on the bottom of the case, and is generally the precise opposite of the Green principles we're supposedly trying to develop and maintain. I am sorry to report that I have a MySpace account (mostly out of perceived necessity for keeping contact with a few folks), but I will not be at all upset if they decide one day to go belly up.

    For what it's worth, I find your design here remarkably visually attractive and processor friendly. It's a good paradigm for others to use.

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  • http://catalystspace.com Jesse Phillips

    Thank you for these stats! Very interesting! I think it would also be interesting to compare book sales w/ the ranking above. Does stronger web presence correlate w/ greater book sales or "success" as an author? Perhaps the authors w/ a weaker web presence are very successful, and so they're not concerned w/ web presence? (or they're successful enough for themselves?)

  • http://twitter.com/Brandywinebooks @Brandywinebooks

    My site earned a 95, and I'm sure we have many ways to improve. Our blog grade was 68 though, and since Brandywinebooks.net is a blog, that's probably the better score. I should work on that.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/WindmillDuke WindmillDuke

    AHHHhhhh. Thanks so much, Michael. The comment about "young and hip," I mean. Come to think of it, I don't have the other three illusions to a fast track to authors' success. I'll turn 70 in a month and am finally getting my passion in to a book, the working title of which, Generational Fathering, goes way out from "hip"–and fast.!____Side note: I've been touched by and prayed over your Tweets of compassion for your brother-in-law.

  • http://www.meusfilmes.com Cinéfilo

    website grader is a rather useful site. I've been using it for some time now, at http://www.meusfilmes.com with some success.

    Bear in mind that a small website MAY get a lot less visitors than a large one and STILL have a greater websitegrader score because what this site mainly measures is the POTENTIAL for visibility in search engines. A larger website may indeed get a lot more visitors, but be built in such a way that crawlers will have a hard time indexing it.

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  • http://everydayemstips.com Greg Friese

    I look for authors, generally paramedics, nurses, or doctors, to interview on the Medical Author Chat podcast. I can easily find the author’s book on Amazon. Finding a web page or Facebook page is challenging. Finding an email address to invite the author on the change is nearly impossible.

  • Patrick

    Michael,
    Thanks for the post – VERY HELPFUL!!!!
    Patrick

  • Anonymous

    I scored a 93! That seems pretty good. Thanks for sharing that site. A pretty interesting report.

  • Anonymous

    I’d better get busy!

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Just saw you mention this post on facebook. Great use of other social sites to get people here to read your blog. Even further, great post.

    I search around your blog more than I’d admit, am glad to find this. Thanks for sharing. CURIOUS about the author you mention though.  :)

    Blessings

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Oh! Looked up your stats from when you first posted this.
    They were as follows:
    ========================
    Overall Web Grade: 99.3
    Google Page Rank: 4
    Alexa
    Traffic Rank: 184,648
    Technorati Blog Rank: 13,031
    ========================

    What are they today?
    Have you run the stats currently?

  • Cameron

    Reminds me of a tee shirt my son saw… something along the lines of;  “this shirt has been read by more people than your blog”  

  • http://twitter.com/AdamsOrganizing Elise Adams

    Great tool, Michael.  Thanks for re posting this article via Twitter/FB today because I’d forgotten about this tool and they’ve updated it since the last time I used them.  AND my scores are nearly double what they were when I first checked them over 6 months ago…

    Today my overall score is 95
    Alexa is 436k (started at 3 mill)

    I’m not seeing the Google Page rank, although it does list 440 pages are indexed by the search engines.

    Again–thanks for sharing this…it’s a great tool!

  • Tim

    Awesome post! Thanks for the grader link. I ran it and www.irrefutablesuccess.com scored 82! Your influence has played a major role in that score. Thanks you! Now I want to learn more and do more to get it higher. Thanks again Michael!

    • Tim

      OOPS! Meant Thank you! – not – Thanks you!

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Love your blog, Tim. I don’t know why I wasn’t subscribed, but I have remedied that!

  • Tim

    Awesome post! Thanks for the grader link. I ran it and http://www.irrefutablesuccess.com scored 82! Your influence has played a major role in that score. Thanks Michael! I will be working on getting it higher.  

  • Maureen Noel

    Agreed! There are so many terrible author sites out there, it’s a wonder these authors sell books. I was one of the fortunate ones for my novel Nightworld. http://maureennoel.com. Just as authors need editors to whittle down their books, it’d be a good idea to take an editor to their websites as well.

  • http://twitter.com/RichTatum Rich Tatum

    Nice repost, but you might want to update it with a note that Technorati no longer tracks the blogosphere like it used to, sadly.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Rich,
      I have noticed that too. Do you use any other sites to help you track like Alexa or others? There are a bunch out there that cost $ too, which I am not a fan of. ha.

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  • http://www.pauljolicoeur.com/ Paul Jolicoeur

    Thanks for the resources Michael. I scored 70. I guess I have some things to work on! The site said to add pages and get more inbound traffic. Since I just started 2 months ago, I would think some of this will take time.

  • Spaceobservingninny

    Most of these grading tools are rubbish, as they simply fail to detect 90% of the true  factors they claim to search for. don’t use their favourite toys? you lose ranking. Sorry, but the cool kids are boring and the internet is far more complicated and human driven than these marketing morons will ever understand.

  • Alyssaavant

    It said the Websitegrader was in beta and I had to sign up and was over 3000 in queue. 

  • http://www.josh-bennett.com/ Josh

    I have worked on Authors websites and they just do not understand anything about the web. All they know is that they need a website. This is helpful information!

    Thanks!

  • Roger Harned

    I’m just trying to figure out the what next steps before launching mine. I really need some tech-savvy help with WordPress & getting the right look for my content. Need to figure out how to do a RogerHarned@my web address, too. Next step suggestions appreciated.
    (unrelated: any idea why all of these comments read: ‘5 years ago’ ? no one’s perfect.)

  • Dan Erickson

    Wow, my site does three times better than author twelve and I’m just an everyday, self-published author, poet, and singer-songwriter. http://www.danerickson.nett

  • Amy Pederson

    Thanks for sharing this post, Michael. I just ran my blog, Divine In The Daily, through WebsiteGrader.com for the first time. Looks like I got a score of 84, which I was happy with considering the scores you reported. Have written this down for future reference, will work on some things and monitor over time. Appreciate your insights!