Everybody is a writer these days. With a website, a blog or even a personal Facebook page, there are a lot of people out there trying to get what they’ve got to say out into the world. Between the big social media platforms (and even the smaller ones), public relations nightmares abound.
Why does this matter to an author? Because your name and your brand are everything. With millions of people out there, you’re never going to get the recognition or stay safe from disasters without a little upkeep of your online reputation.
So how can you keep yourself noticeable and safe? Take my advice below.
1. Search yourself, and buy your domain
The first way to begin improving your online reputation is to Google yourself. Search your name or your brand name to see what’s available on the first page of Google, and also switch to the images tab to check that out as well. Anything that doesn’t fit with your brand has to go. If you’ve got existing things you want to get rid of, try a little cleanup, but know that ultimately, once it’s on the internet, it pretty much stays on the internet.
Once you start building your online brand or cleanup, it’s important to track how your progress is affecting your viewership and clicks. To keep track of who’s searching for you, set up a Google Alert to send notifications of how often people are searching and how they’re getting to your content. Later, when you start working on your search engine optimization (SEO), these sorts of figures will come in handy.
Another important step is getting the rights to your domain name. When it comes to branding, it’s vital you keep everything under your name or your brand to avoid confusion and optimize your SEO efforts. If you haven’t already purchased your domain, make sure you do as quickly as possible. Once you begin searching available domain terms, bots can track the popularity and buy it first, meaning they’ll charge you a premium to buy it from them. Skip this step and be smart about getting your domain under your control.
2. Create high-profile social pages
Create pages on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These pages rank high in search engines because they’re trusted, so it’s big-time real estate for authors to get their work out. If you focus your energy on completing detailed profiles and personal information, as well as providing great content, you have opportunities to show up multiple times on the first page of search engines.
Another thing to remember is to streamline your content. When you’ve got your domain name, grab a site like WordPress, Squarespace or even Tumblr to put all your content in the same spot. It will help you focus your attention and end any confusion with your readers.
3. Be Safe
For those serious about branding, it’s important to keep in mind that security is a big deal. Maintaining complete control over your name, your brand and your online outlets is important for keeping them safe from hacking or malware.
Since your online reputation is a vital part of your overall brand, it’s important you maintain a secure connection no matter where you are, so your internet connection doesn’t become a weak spot in your safety plan. A great way to do that is to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which not only creates a private connection, but it can do it from anywhere. For authors whose office is at their local Starbucks, this is a vital step to keeping your information private even on a public WiFi connection. If you’re unfamiliar with VPNs, this review from Secure Thoughts will help you get started on a safer and more secure internet connection.
4. Stay Active
Just as important as beginning great pages is maintaining great pages. Everything from Instagram to Facebook requires constant refreshing if you plan to keep your followers. For authors, this is about connecting with your readers in a meaningful way. The worst thing you can do for your brand is build a great site and then neglect it or misuse it.
Countless disasters have unfolded because social users weren’t thinking about what they were saying. As an author, it’s better to be extra careful. Being an advocate is one thing, but sounding off about an area that’s not your expertise is not wise. To be safe in the long run, stick to what you know and to what your brand is about. This will help avoid public mishaps and will give your readers exactly what they need.
5. Provide Great Bonus Content
As a writer, the work is in your words. Whether you publish in print or online, there’s always going to be a high demand for more content, even if you’re the James Patterson type and churn out best-sellers every year. A great way to connect with your readers and turn them into avid followers is to provide them with great bonus content that is exclusive to people who frequent your website or other social outlets.
There are many great ways to provide that extra bonus, such as providing a background story for yourself or how you began to write the stories you publish. Talk about the how, the who, the what and the why—those are the juicy details that keep people coming back for more. Everything from discussing your mentors and inspiration to doing a Q&A with your cover artist or illustrator will provide behind-the-scenes information that will be valuable to your fan base. For a market that provides constant, instant gratification, this type of extra material will keep you and your work relevant.
6. Be a Guest
Nothing boosts your rankings quite as much as guest posting, and for a budding author, I suggest you do a lot of it. While Google Analytics keeps its ranking algorithms on the hush-hush, it’s obvious to those in the SEO business that having your link on content throughout the web makes it appear favorably in the search engine process, so reach out and start doing guest work for other websites.
Consider this guest content to be similar to your bonus content, because when it comes down to it, it’s all about providing that personal touch and extra value. Give people an excerpt of your latest work online, or work with a blogger with a large following to do a giveaway of your latest book. These kinds of extras will not only increase your ranking on the pages of Google but will also increase your followers if you do it right.
Many people thought book sales would plummet and the world would never read another hardback, newspaper or magazine after the internet came around. While the game is now different in many ways, it hasn’t changed the fact that people still pick up papers, books and magazines everywhere in the world.
With a few smart tactics and a couple of extra SEO best practices, the importance of an author’s online reputation doesn’t have to become a burden but instead something that interests the readers as well as the author. For an online reputation that sings and builds your fan base, take these tips to heart!
Have any tips about building your online reputation? Share them in the comments.
Caroline is a writer and tech guru, always on the search for the next great thing in literature and technology. She’s been a guest on ProWritingAid, Blogging Spell and many more. To catch more of her work, check out SecureThoughts.com.