Saturday, September 6, 2008

When Did You Last Google Yourself?

No, it's not only megalomaniacs that Google themselves...writers do it too and if they don't, they NEED to. I Google my name at least twice a week so I can see what others see about me. Doing so helps me to learn what others will find out when they look me up and helps me control it too. I can control the keywords associated with my name and if I see something that is neutral or doesn't do much to help me, I can work on other areas of SEO to try to bury those results.

Make no mistake, when you apply for writing jobs, regardless of how many great samples you insert and how well your CV is put together the employer will probably look you up as well. I just had four people join my writing team and I Googled them all before offering them a team spot.

Some ghostwriters prefer the world of obscurity but most who ghostwrite are also trying to build a name for themselves. If you want clients to find you and to become known for your niche, you need to learn to SEOize yourself.

SEOizing For Writers

If you're writing SEO articles for clients you know a bit about keyword density, keyword placement, keyword proximity, headings, meta tags, LSI and the Long Tail.

You need to decide what to optimize your name for. Do you want to be known as a health blogger, an internet marketing blogger, a press release writer, a book reviewer? You'll need to write about the subjects you are interested in a way that will categorize you as such in the search engines.

There are many ways to do this including posting on forums, blogging, social networking and article submitting. While you may be busy writing to pay the bills, the best way to up your rates and gain exposure for yourself is to market a little each week and to check on how you're doing in the search engines.

Check Google, Yahoo, Ask and others and see what words come up related to you. Consider setting up a Google Alert for your name as well so you'll learn about new website indexings that contain your name.

I've been jousting for top spot for months with someone else in my country that has my name who is a lawyer. We seem to share the top spot regularly with a lady who also has my name (and my dot com address) but her site simply lists some baby pictures. Two years ago before I starting seoizing my brand name, I had one or two spots on page 1. Now I have more the 75% of the spots on page one and two for Now, I know that if people want to know more about me they'll find me.

I optimize this blog for freelance writer blog and am on the first page with some pretty popular blogs. For my own business site, I've targeted a specific segment of freelance writing.

Over time, I've also learned about what ranks well and also looks good so those are the areas I strive for. Sign up for professional profile sites like LinkedIn, ask other writers to review your website. Consider submitting something free for a byline on a popular and well respected site or blog as well. Join productive social marketing tools and always participate in a positive way. Don't forget, anything you say online that's attached to your brand name can directly reflect on your business.

SEOizing your writing name is something that can help you in many ways. Even one activity a week based on building your own brand can pay off in a big way for you.


Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

I don't google myself anywhere near as often as I used to since I set up Google Alerts. These alerts drop me an email when someone uses one of the keywords I've selected. Things like my last name (and variations of it), my url, and a few choice site keywords, etc.

When google discovers any of these while it's crawling it drops me an email with a link etc.

I still do SEO checks on various keywords to see where I'm listing in the rankings but only every month or two.

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

I have Google Alerts set up for my name and blog. I also Google myself every couple of weeks. And occasionally I check my name in other search engines, too. This is an essential part of managing your online reputation. Great post, Dana.

Lillie Ammann said...

I've been around on the net forever, and my name is unusual. In fact, one time I found something online to see how many other people had the same name, and it said there was only one Lillie Ammann. When I Google, I don't look past about the first ten or twelve pages, but every entry on those pages relates to me—my sites, book listings, other sites I'm listed on, comments, etc. Two of the top ten listings for the word Lillie are my site and my blog.

Dana Prince said...

Thanks Lillie,
I guess it'd be much harder to follow my advice if you were a writer named Jane Smith, huh?

Suzanne James said...

I set up Google alerts to come in Friday. Mind you - most of the information is about someone else, and some of it is 'old' but I get an idea of what is being said about me - or what content I posted that went 'live.'

I would say that I google myself about once every 2 or 3 months. Something happened this year. Gracepub had 89k references - but Google cut it back down to 5000.

Googling my name is no good as there are a whole bunch of people iwth my name - one of them owns a puppy mill in the USA and that gets me all sorts of nasty comments from time to time. :) I once tried to count how many other people had my name, but stopped at 50.

Avid Writer said...

Dana, these are some really good tips. I Google myself regularly (I thought I was being a narcicist and felt kind of guilty about it) because I once had to interview someon from another country whene I first got started freelencing and she was ver hesitant to particiate in my email interview because she could not find my name on Google as proof that I was a writer and not some sicko stalker. My editor had to step in to clear things up.

I agree with you and sharon that it is an important part of monitoring how others "see" you online.

Dana Prince said...

Makes sense, Avid Writer. I had someone interview me recently too and I was very careful. You can't be too careful when it comes to your privacy so when I first got started I had a concern about anonymity so used a screenname but as time went on and I realized I needed to establish myself and my credibility I decided it wasn't such a good idea to keep going by my pet's name. I was doing great things for his rep. LOL.

In the end I elected to use my maiden name which still gave me privacy and felt right anyway since that's the name I imagined seeing in print as a little girl.

Thanks for stopping by:)

Diana said...

Also this is tough if your name is also the name of someone famous. Mine's Diana Doherty, also the name of my grandmother, a famous oboist, and for some reason also returns gazillions of Princess Di-related links even if my last name is included in the search.

Candace Morehouse said...

I'm lucky enough to have a fairly unusual name and if I'd only thought to use my maiden name I could definitely assure myself that I was the ONLY one in the U.S. (maiden name is Bruessel, only problem is no one can spell it or pronounce it). I tend to google my book name more than anything to make sure someone's not selling it illegally or to check if a new review has been posted somewhere. Love the advice about Google alerts, I'll have to do that, too.