SEO for Authors: Naming Yourself

What should I call my blog?

What should my Twitter handle be?
Should I use a pseudonym? How will I choose it?
Should I be First Name + Last Name? First intial + Middle name?
What’s in a name?

Here’s your marketing take away killer blurb line:
Your presence online serves for readers to be able to find you. People look for books by Author Name more often than via any other kind of search.  
If it’s not too late for you, use your chosen author name for your website, for your twitter handle, for everything you possibly can.  (Including Pinterest, Facebook, Google Plus – all of them. And I don’t care if you don’t use it. Grab your chosen name as soon as you can and park it. Just OWN it.)  When a reader Googles you, your name, your face, your website should show up in search. The easiest way to do this is to own your own name across every platform you can.

Don’t use book titles – they can be changed by publishers and editors, and you’re limiting yourself to the success of a single title, rather than taking advantage of the breadth of everything you might write in the future.

Don’t use character names. When’s the last time you looked up a book on Amazon or Goodreads with a character’s name?  (For me, this is limited to the times when the character’s name is also the series name like the Dresden Files). Again, what if people are looking for a book that doesn’t include that character?

I know we want to be cute and creative with our titles and twitter handles. I’m sorry. Google doesn’t understand cute and creative, and I guarantee you will wish you owned your own name when it comes to platform-building.

But which name should I choose? 

My name for 37 years was Alicia King.  I liked that name well enough. I never used my middle name because writing cursive D’s elude me to this day.  I have about 1,000 online articles out there somewhere under that byline (mostly about gluten-free food and yoga).

When I got married, I suddenly had the option of appending “Anderson” to my name. I’m modern and feminist enough that some of my friends were surprised that I chose to adopt my husband’s last name.

They laugh and nod when I tell them I did it because Anderson had better SEO competition.

Ha. Ha.

I’m not kidding.

I was somewhere around draft seven of Salvaged when Brett proposed. I knew I was going to be an author, that this was going to matter to me.

If, like me, you have a little bit of wiggle room about which name to choose, I recommend checking out the competition.

First – let’s check out the population.  I like How many of me” for this one.
  • Alicia King = 377
  • Alicia Anderson = 654
  • AK Anderson = 4
Now, let’s Google.
  • Alicia King = 71 million results including attorneys, doctors, an author, a body builder, and a singer.
  • Alicia Anderson = 40 million results including a photographer, several social media experts and someone on youtube doing a video about cloth diapers.
  • AK Anderson = 126 thousand results including a college professor and a city in Alaska.
It looks like this is pretty clear. AK Anderson simply has less competition. I’ll be able to own the area around the name pretty easily. (I made this decision over 2 years ago, and if you Google me, I’ll probably show up in the top 10, regardless of your personalized settings.)
But, there’s one more search engine we’ve got to check. Amazon.  Because it has authors in it. I want to be there.
  • Alicia King – already an author with this name.
  • Alicia Anderson – TWO different authors and a series of books with a character named Alicia Anderson.
  • AK Anderson – only nets partial matches for the letter combination. No one using this name.
Interesting. No?  My choice is suddenly very clear, isn’t it?
(Sneaky tip: Do the same competition-searches listed above for your book and story titles.)

5 thoughts on “SEO for Authors: Naming Yourself

  1. fascinating 🙂 When I found my current twitter handle and website I didn’t even think about websites and twitter. I was just angry because I hadn’t thought of it earlier as an online handle. Because it’s dubious enough not to be instantly pinned to me, but close enough so everyone can relate to it once they know. Extra cookie for you if you inf the story behind it. ;-D As to using my actual name: Thank god I’m not relying on being googley. And if I ever will, that’ll be rather easy. Yay, uncommon names. ^^

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