Do You Need an Online Makeover?
How to Look Good to Google:
When editors, agents, clients or…prospective dates search your name, what kind of impression do they get? If your search leads to outdated pages, if your name doesn’t show up on the first page, or worse, if it doesn’t show up at all, you know you’re due for an online makeover. Establishing a confident online presence is not only good for your personal brand and career, it can be a great self-esteem boost!
Social Media is Your Very Needy Friend
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with social media. Twitter, Facebook and blog maintenance take a tremendous time commitment. When is a writer supposed to get any real work done? In truth, social media is a writer’s best friend. For the first time, authors can cultivate a direct relationship with a critical mass of readers. That means the playing field is wide open. I also recently heard a major editor say that a writer’s Twitter count matters when she’s deciding whether or not to take on a book project.
Get Google to Notice You
Randy Shelton, of the digital branding firm, Shelton Interactive suggests that your search results should occupy the first three pages of Google. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is with a blog.
If you’re already on the major social media sites and you have a web site with your domain name, congratulations! You’re well ahead of the game. If you’re new at this, registering your domain and getting your website up is Job #1. Read on:
At minimum, you’ll want to register your full name, and the name of your book and topic. If your name is already taken, you can try firstnamelastname.net or .me or use a hyphen between your first and last name. You can also include writer in your domain name. Just make sure your first and last name are in the domain so it will appear in search results. When you build multiple sites, try not to duplicate content. It can cost you in search rank or get your sites bumped from Google’s index altogether.
Register Your Website Domain Name
It will be easiest if you register your domain name with the same Internet Service Provider (ISP) you use to host your site. I use Bluehost. It’s inexpensive and their tech support is first rate. There are plenty of other services though.
Do make sure your internet provider allows free subdomain hosting. That means, when you register one domain, you can add other websites without paying an additional monthly fee. As an example, my main domain is the name of my business, Skycastle Media and tracyoliver.com and makingbestsellers.com are subdomains. Regardless of how many websites I have, I’m charged one flat monthly rate.
Building Your Web Site
Once you have your domain name, you can either work with a designer or if you like being the master of your universe, you can build a site yourself.
If you work with a website designer, make sure he or she builds your site on an interface like WordPress so you can update the text portion of your site yourself. WordPress is called a Content Management System (CMS). It uses website design templates called “Themes” and there are hundreds of “Plugin Widgets” to choose from that make life fun and easy.
Confused? I was at first and I’ve been working with web sites a long time.
Think of WordPress as a naked manikin. A “Theme” is one of the many different outfits you can use to dress your manikin and “Plugin Widgets” are all the fun accessories you can add to your site.
For our purposes, one of the essential WordPress accessories or “plugins” is Yoast. This will help you optimize your pages to make it easier for Google to notice you. The SEO all-in-one Pack is another popular plugin for search engine optimization. It’s also important to reserve your names on the major social media sites to boost search results.
Many of the WordPress Themes and plugins are either free or very low cost and best of all, there are hundreds and hundreds of “outfits” to choose from! Here is a list of free theme designs as an example. Keep in mind that developing a WordPress site is like assembling a model airplane. The Theme is like a kit. You still have to put it together. Even so, WordPress is the one fastest, most affordable paths to a professional web presence. The good news is that once your site is built, it will be easy to manage updates yourself. If you can handle MS Word, the WordPress dashboard will look easy!