From Anne R. Allen’s Blog:
Whether you’re planning to self-publish or go the traditional route, every author needs a “platform” these days.
Some authors obsess too much about platform and waste time on pointless overkill. (More about how to skip the time-wasting stuff in my post, 7 Ways Authors Waste Time Building Platform.)
But others ignore it entirely, often because they’re not quite clear on what it means.
. . . .
But there’s something quick, easy and relatively painless you can do right now to raise your search engine profile that won’t take more than a couple of minutes from your writing time.
Ready for it?
Comment on blogs.
With your real name. (Or whatever name you write under.)
Yup. Comments on high profile blogs get your name onto that Google search page.
. . . .
2) “Why should I comment on Nathan Bransford’s (or Kristen Lamb’s, David Gaughran’s or The Passive Guy’s) blog? They never comment on mine.”
Nathan has well over 5000 followers of his blog. (He doesn’t post the widget anymore, so I’ve lost track: it’s probably over 10K now) He also has 100K followers on Twitter, and 10K in his Google circles. If he spent all day, every day, doing nothing else, even sleeping, he still could not keep up with all his followers’ blogs. And remember he’s doing it all for free.
But if you comment on his blog, Google will notice YOU, because his blog is on their radar and your name has become part of his “content”.
That means you get a bump in YOUR search profile. He doesn’t benefit that much from one more comment, but YOU do. The same is true of a comment here.
. . . .
But there are two simple things you can do that can give you IDs that allow you to comment on almost all blogs even if you have no Web presence right now.
1) Get a Gravatar ID
2) Join Google Plus
But before you jump in, make sure the name you’re using is the “brand” name you want for your writing career.
First Google yourself (put your name in “quotes” for a more accurate search.) This will tell you if your name is already in use. If your name is as dirt-common as Anne Allen, you don’t even need Google to tell you there are hundreds of thousands of women using that name too. There are three Anne Allens in my small town doctor’s practice alone.
To stand out, I added my middle initial. Everywhere I go on the Web, I’m annerallen. There are other Anne R. Allens but not as many, and at the moment Google gives me top billing.
Making your name unique is especially important if you share it with somebody famous. So if you’re called Rush Limbaugh, Lindsay Lohan or Justin Bieber, choose a pseudonym or trot out a middle name, initial, or use a nickname. Try Rushton Q. Limbaugh or Elle Lohan or J. Montague Bieber.
You want to make this decision before you start to set up your profiles, or you’re going to be adding to the other Justin Bieber’s platform, not building your own.
And don’t use a cutsie moniker. Unless you plan to write all your books under the nom de plume “scribblersally”, “pufferballsmom”, or “#1belieber” you don’t want to comment on blogs with that handle. Use your professional name, because you’re building a professional platform.
Gravatar (which stands for Globally Recognized Avatar) is affiliated with WordPress, so if you have a Gravatar ID, you can comment on any WordPress blog and your picture will show up with your comment. (A big plus—you’re trying to get visible, remember?) Lots of Blogger blogs will accept a Gravatar/Wordpress ID too. So this is where I’d start if you’re brand new.
It’s easy. Just go to Gravatar.com and post a profile.
. . . .
And please do use a picture of yourself. Not your cat. Not a baby picture or a cartoon. It needs to be a grown-up picture of you. With clothes on. Beachy photos end up looking like porn spam in thumbnails. Even if you write erotica, save the skin for your website.
Anne’s SEO suggestions should work to raise your Google search profile, but PG doesn’t think most readers run a Goodl search on an author’s name when they’re looking for a book, so this may not be gold for an indie author. It can’t hurt, but it may not drive book sales.
What can help is to make intelligent comments on a busy blog. PG has purchased books written by intelligent commenters on TPV and other blogs. Intelligent comments will tend to generate clicks to your own blog or website as well.
Needless to say, dumb comments or troll dumps generate pretty much the opposite response.