If the philosopher Descartes was around today, he might have said: “I’m Googleable, therefore I am.”
Okay—maybe he wouldn’t have said that (because—hello—he wrote in French). But the point is, if a writer wants to make a name for himself or herself, being search-engine accessible is important. If you Google your name and the first page of search results mentions little more than your Facebook page and your WhitePages listings, then it’s time to start building your online author platform.
1. Develop an author website. If possible, make sure your author website is search-engine optimized. At the very least, be sure your website mentions your name a bunch of times (otherwise, it’s like showing up at the party with a “Hello My Name Is” badge that you forgot to fill out). TIP: Update regularly. Search engines like that.
2. Join social networks. We know there are only so many social networks that a person can maintain at any given time. But if you can pick two you love, and then at least create profiles for the others (updating them occasionally), all your social networks should begin to show up in Web searches. Click here for social networking for writers.
3. Focus on online literary journals and magazines. With each online publication that gives you a byline, search engines return that result. In a perfect world, a literary agent or editor will Google your name and find examples of your writings on reputable and impressive websites.
4. Enter writing contests. Often, coordinators and judges of writing contests will post their finalists and winners on the Web.
5. Submit to anthologies. Having a short essay, poem, or story published in an anthology can cause your name to pop up in search engines.
6. Be picture-perfect. When posting your picture on your website, tag your picture with your name so that Google will associate your picture with your name. Use your name in the file name, the title of the picture, the alternative text, and the description (you can access these things by clicking “editing -> advanced” if you’re in WordPress). When people Google you, your headshot will show in search results.
7. Ask friends to review your work. Ask fellow bloggers or social network friends to review your writing (which means they’ll use your name). Just be sure not to offend them by committing one of the Eleven Deadly Sins of Social Networking.
8. Blog. Whether you blog on your own website or on a third-party site like blogger, your recent blog posts should show up in search results. (Hint: Try using your own name in your blog posts if they’re not showing up. You can always sign your posts with your name, if you like.)
9. Post a video of yourself on YouTube. Google owns YouTube. Which means Google likes YouTube. Which means YouTube videos frequently show up in search results. So post a little video and tag it using your name in the keywords and description. And if you happen to get whacked between the legs with a baseball or hit in the face with a pie, even better (because your vid might go viral)!
Why Is It Important To Be Googleable?
If you do want to engage, participate, and be a part of what’s going on as a writer, then you’ll want to develop your Web presence. Being Googleable is being relevant—not because the medium matters. But because the message does.
Some authors won’t have to lift a finger to be Googleable. Publicity will flock to them like tweens to a vampire movie. But the rest of us have to work at it. And that takes some time and effort. The key is, enjoy the process.
QUESTION: When did you first Google your own name? What did you find?
Excellent hints – and helpful. Thanks a lot, WR/WDR.
Thanks for these useful tips. I’m already doing a few of them, but there were a couple that I’d missed so cheers for the advice.
I already include my blog address in the file name of all the photos I use on my blog, but how do I tag my photos? I use Google blogger for my blog and can’t seem to find a way to do this, so any information would be appreciated.
Charles, if you can edit the HTML of your blog posts, you can tag your images by adding an ALT attribute to the image code. Here is some information about that: http://www.w3schools.com/tags/att_img_alt.asp
Yes, google blogger has an html tab so I’ll check out the link and give it a try. Cheers again for your help.
If you use an image (not a head shot, but an image related to the topic about which you’re blogging) with your blog posts, do you recommend putting your name in the in the file name, the title of the picture, the alternative text, and the description for those photos too, or is that dishonest? How about putting key words in the file name, the title of the picture, the alternative text, and the description for those photos?
Great question, Woody! You don’t necessarily have to tag pictures with your name if they’re not of you. They can be tagged with the keyword that is most appropriate for what the image actually is and what the post is about. Hover your mouse over the image in this post for an example of this.