Search Engines–Your Personal Genie to Build Your Author Brand

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. This is the day I dedicate to making your social media experience more enjoyable and productive. Many authors have gotten the message that they need to be on social media and they need to be blogging. But one of the big problems I notice is there is a failure to understand how search engines work and how to use them in our favor. What good is posting content if no one can find it, right?

What I am going to teach you today is going to help you rise even more above the masses of competition all clamoring for the public’s attention and money.

These days the competition is fierce. Barnes and Noble just announced its self-publishing service PubIt so everybody can get published. The gates have been thrown open and it is every writer for himself. Why I brought up this new development in self-publishing is that it highlights why it is even more critical for authors to have a platform. Unless you happen to already be a household name, your social media platform is more critical now than ever.

As a debut fiction author you will be competing against counterparts who have a solid social media presence and a blog following. Are you prepared? The odds are not in our favor. According to the BEA, 93% of novels sell less than 1000 copies. A solid social media platform can make all the difference.  In earlier blogs, we have discussed using your name as a brand. Anything else will cripple a platform and leave an author stressed out and spread too thinly. Our goal is to get our names to do the heavy lifting (sales) so we have time to write.

So why is a name so important?

Today we are going to have a quick lesson on how search engines work. By the end of this lesson, I am sure it will be much clearer why your name is so critical.

Think of search engines like a codependent personal genie bent on making you happy. Meet Google the Codependent Genie. Anything you desire is his will to supply. Google, your personal genie, will rush out and find whatever you require because he wants you to be happy and not have to wait.

The Internet is like one giant master closet full of everyone’s “stuff.” Now some people are like my grandmother and everything is neatly labeled, categorized and organized. Our personal genie can rush into the closet, look at the side of the “box” and know exactly what is inside. Yet, other folks on the Internet are more like my mother (okay, me) and they have all kinds of boxes that would have been labeled “Miscellaneous” if only we could have found the box with the Sharpie markers. So either there is no label or there is one giant vague label “My Stuff” or “Writing.”

So let’s slip into the shoes of our poor little codependent genie, Google.

Oh, my little Google, you are powerful indeed. Here’s my wish…

(You type) How do I write a prologue for a novel?

What your codependent search-engine genie SEES is…

How do I write a prologue for a novel?

So our little genie knows you get impatient and begin smacking buttons on your keyboard if you have to wait more than three seconds. He also knows he has less than a second and a half before his mistress gets testy. And he also also knows that if he takes too long or doesn’t return with quality stuff, that his beloved mistress might decide to use another codependent genie (Bing, Ask, Yahoo) and leave him alone in cyberspace with no one to serve. If enough mistresses do this, he knows eventually he will fade away and die and be banished to the realm of AOL.

Our genie, Google, is very motivated.

So as Google the Codependent Genie whizzes into this giant storage closet known as the Internet, he knows that his fastest approach and the one more likely to return quality goods is that he needs to look at the sides of the boxes (think Internet files). He glances at the labels and brings back the files that have been precisely labeled first.

These “labels” are known as tags. Tags are metadata, which means, “data about data.”

When you add tags to your blogs, you make it easy for other people’s codependent genies to go to your stuff first. The genie will look to the labels first. Only after he has located the “boxes” with labels will he then take the effort to look inside the box for what his mistress has requested.

How do I write a prologue for a novel?

Our genie will look for articles and blogs with those three words—write, prologue, novel—in the tags first, and only after that will our little friend sift through the body of the material for those words.

Tagged items will always be at the top of a search and on the first page. This will be important for later when we discuss blogging. Who among you go to the second page of a search unless you just absolutely have to? Tagging makes the difference between being first on the page versus being relegated to Internet Limbo on page 4.

Tags are also critical to defining you as an author (your brand), much like the boxes in our closets define us as people. If you went into my closet and noticed stacks of boxes labeled, guns, Guns and Ammo Magazines, ammunition, survival manuals, camouflage, snares, rain gear, this would form an impression.

Similarly if you went in my closet and found crochet, quilting, cross stich patterns, thread, fabric, sewing, batting, needles sewing machine parts, you would also form an impression.

So what if you went in my closet and saw guns, romance novels, dragons, crochet, architecture, self-help, cooking, babies, Dr. Seuss, Martha Stewart, political science, 6-Pack Abs in Three Weeks, Judo, How to Train Your Dog? What impression would you form? Would it be positive?

Or would it be more like seeing a recipe that called for beef tips, chocolate, Marsala cooking wine, marshmallows, yams, jalapenos, corn, and jelly beans? Not too appealing, right?

Our blogs and our tags serve to define our brand. The content and tags associated with our name are important. What potential consumers, an agent and an editor see associated with our name is vital in how they mentally define us. Are they going to define us as Quiche Lorraine or Dear God! Who Let the Kids Cook?

As an example, here’s my list of tags:

Kristen Lamb—Kristen Lamb, writer, author, speaker, teacher, social media, publishing, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blog, blogs, blogging, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, branding, marketing.

Notice all the tags were simple. These tags were all nouns that, if typed into a search bar, would serve to help someone else’s little codependent genie find me FIRST.

And yes, notice I put my name in the tags. Why? Because I want to become a brand name. I want that when people think/say, “social media for writers,” Kristen Lamb comes up first.

Like, say “Tiger Woods” and…okay, bad example.

Say, “Warren Buffet” and you think billionaire. Conversely, say, “billionaire” and one of the first names that comes to mind is Warren Buffet. I want my name to do the same. Say, “Kristen Lamb” and people think social media for writers….and vice versa.

Also, what if someone meets me and all they remember is Kristen and a couple random details? But they liked me and wanted to buy my book? I could happen! 😛

If they google… Kristen, writer, social media then who will pop up? See, this stuff is pretty awesome 😉

Here’s an exercise. Free write a list of all the words that you would like associated with your brand name. If someone forgot your name, but was describing your work to a clerk at Barnes & Noble, what words would she use? Write as many as you can think of and highlight your favorites.

You may also want to give a copy of this list to those close to you. Have them highlight their favorites or add any you failed to list. We don’t see ourselves the same way others do and that will help you get perspective and eliminate emotional distancing. Some of us it took years to say, “I am a writer” aloud unless we had wine first. So how do others view you? It’s important.

Also, go back through your blogs. Do your tags make sense? Are they too vague? Too general? Too obscure? Are your blogs even tagged at all? If, not, then tag them so people can find your content.

Happy writing!

Until next time…

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Great blog by Tawna Fenske about the dangers of over-editing.

Kid.Lit is such a tremendous resource for writers. Great blog Antagonists in Contemporary Fiction.

5 Ways to Make a Novel Hopelessly Addictive by Editor A. Victoria Mixon.

Learning from Hollywood-High Concept in Women’s Fiction by Lydia Sharp.

9 Ways to Prepare for National Novel Writing Month by Jodi Cleghorn

Creating the Page-Turner: Tricks to Great Pacing in Your Books by Mary Carroll Moore

Bad Advice to Ignore from Your Critique Group  by Anne R. Allen

3 Reasons to Start Blogging Before the Book Contract by author Jody Hedlund

And now the shameless self-promo. We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is designed to be fun and effective. I am here to change your habits, not your personality. My method will help you grow your network in a way that will translate into sales. And the coolest part? My approach leaves time to write more books. Build a platform guaranteed to impress an agent. How do I know this? My book is recommended by agents.

You don’t have all day to market. You have best-selling books to write! So pick up a copy today.

Need a great workshop? SIGN UP TODAY!

Best-Selling Author Candace Havens’s on-line workshop teaches everything from plotting to editing. She also brings some of the industry’s best and brightest to make you guys the best writers you can be. I will be teaching about social media for three more days!!!! It isn’t too late to sign up and it is FREE.


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  1. Another cracking Wednesday post! I love getting a virtual boost every week, and this week I’ve had both my writing partners over from the UK, so I’ve acheived tons of things I should be shouting to the skies via social media. We’ve discussed aspects of marketing, including the dreaded viral video and there’s been lots of progress, but this post has inspired me to re-visit my blog and look at the tags from the first post onwards.
    Thanks Kristen!

    1. You are welcome. I find it shocking how many writers are blogging and not adding tags…at all. This makes the content very difficult to find. I’m really happy I could be such a help.

  2. Kristen, The post is terrific, and so is your class. I just had no idea how important social networking was, even for schlubs like me, who are just starting out.

    thanks so much! Janet B Taylor

    1. Hey Janet! Fancy seeing you here. Thanks for the positive feedback. That keeps me encouraged. I hope you take some time to look at posts from prior Wednesdays. every Wednesday is social media for writers, so you can get ramped up very quickly…and the correct way right out of the gate ;).

  3. Holy awesomeness in this post! I’d never thought about tags this way before. I’m now off to go edit my post tags…

  4. Um, this is AMAZING. So instructional. I’ve been pretty overwhelmed in figuring this out & now it seems crystal clear. Love it, thank you so much. I am also off to edit all of my post tags!

    1. Doing my duty to make your life easier, :D.

  5. Kristen,

    Another great “bring-it-all-together” clarifying post! The Genie approach was stupendous…

  6. Somewhere along the way I had read something about not tagging and I bought in hook line and sinker. Gotta go fix that.

  7. What does one write about while building their media platform without giving too much of the book away? I am always hesitant to mention anything about the book (due to paranoia of my ideas being stolen I guess) on my blog. I have put some things about the characters on it but nothing much else. Any suggestions?

  8. SEO – much neglected but vital for bloggers. Great post!

  9. Okay I feel so dumb. I rarely tag my blog posts BUT as of today that will change. Thank you Kristen!

    1. Oh Heather, don’t feel dumb, girl, LOL. I remember the day when I was like, “What are those tag thingies?” And I got all creative and intricate because I didn’t understand their purpose. We all have to learn this stuff. Not like we’re born knowing :D. I am really glad I could help you, though.

  10. Awesome. This gets bookmarked. And thanks so much for the shout-out for my “Bad Advice” blogpost!

  11. I just found this great post. I don’t know why I missed it when you posted. But thanks for the shout-out and thanks so much for clarifying the whole SEO thing for the non-geek. Your blog is such a great resource!

  12. Kristen, this is a great article and right on time for where I am with my new Work-Life Diva Blog. I have to admit that I don’t usually read posts that are this long because I am almost always reading from a device, but I read this to the end AND the 16 comments. Work It, Girl!

    1. Thanks. Yeah, the blogs do tend to run on the long side, so I really appreciate the dedication LOL. I try to make up for it with humor and lots of paragraph breaks :D.

  13. As I sift through the posts I didn’t pay attention to earlier (shame), I am beginning to see where I lack. Honestly the fierce competition scares me. I wonder how anyone can make it since it is incredibly easy to be published these days. But it’s good too; it will force me to sharpen my wit and become more daring in my story telling. Maybe that’s my problem; I still look at writing as just story telling when it is clearly so much more now. But I digress. I started this comment because as a copy writer for advertising, specifically in social media, I think my team would love to read this material. I was going to share it with them and possibly even share it on our company Facebook/Twitter accounts. You don’t mind if I share your posts, do you? Thanks for the help Kristen. Always a pleasure to learn from you.

    1. Share away ALL YOU LIKE! That’s how this thing called social media WORKS :D. Actually, too many writers are doing a lot of activity on social media that yields little productivity. Small changes, like using YOUR NAME will put you ahead of a lot of that competition.

  14. When considering your name as a brand in this internet age it can feel overwhelming if one were to think about the number of writing sites out there. Incredible really, all these people who had never shown their work to the public, blogging away, safe and hidden at home. I don’t know if the added web pages has increased the quality of the content, or just the quantity. That’s why I started daily fiction writing, because I felt like my writing should get out there and it was good enough to be heard. If anything, if it’s not good enough, then it will be by writing daily.

    In addition, Google+ is an absolute must for people following your advice and using their name. Also, by linking Google+ to their websites, they will gain authorship points from Google.

    Thanks for the inspiration. I found this older post through a friend and will definitely bookmark your site!

    Keep it up 🙂

    Michael Spinali

  1. […] if you read my blog on how search engines work, you will see how fiction does not rate well on an Internet search. This means no one can find your […]

  2. […] your name in your blog title. Then, go put your name in the tags on every post you have. Go read this blog if you want to know why. Tags are metadata (data about data). Search engines use tags to FIND you. […]

  3. […] I’m still no expert, so if you want to know more about it, read Kristen Lamb’s post Search Engines – Your Personal Genie to Build Your Author Brand. Jillian invites me over the SEO Darkside!(image from […]

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