Today, I’m pleased to welcome Dane Cobain back to my blog. Dane’s an independent UK poet, musician, and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. He also enjoys reviewing books and sharing tips to assist people in their writing and publishing endeavors. Please be sure to check out the links below if you’d like to connect with Dane through his website or on social media.
Thanks so much, Dane, for this helpful and interesting post!
You’ve probably performed a vanity search before – even if you’re not aware of it. In fact, if you’ve ever gone to Google (or any other search engine) and run a search for your own name, you’ve performed a vanity search.
In the early days of the internet, vanity searching was considered to be taboo, an act carried out only by the egotistical. But nowadays, with so much of our lives revolving around the web, vanity searches have become a tool for good.
Think about it: Odds are that at some point, someone is going to Google your name. For ‘normal people’, this might only happen when they apply for a job or if they try to get a loan, but for authors it tends to happen on a daily or weekly basis.
Do you want to be left in the dark about what results people see? Or do you want to check what people are looking at so you can make sure that it accurately reflects you?
Introducing Google Alerts
Carrying out a vanity search is a good start, because it’ll give you a rough idea of what results are surfacing, but it can be time consuming to check as often as you should do. That’s where Google Alerts come in – you can receive automatic emails whenever a new webpage is discovered that matches your search term.
As an author, it’s a good idea to set up alerts for your pen name, your series titles and the individual names of your releases. This can help you to pick up on coverage that you might not otherwise have been aware of, from reviews and giveaways to promo pieces and more. Reviews are particularly important to discover, because you can take the time to thank your readers – and even to ask them to share their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
If there’s a problem
Of course, there’s always the risk that you could carry out a vanity search and see results that are either irrelevant or – worse still – that cast your writing career in a negative light.
Perhaps it’s a scathing review or a blog post that accuses you of being a talentless hack. Perhaps it’s a bunch of photos of you as a kid, or an old account that you used half a lifetime ago. Either way, you have options available.
If the search reveals results that are defamatory, you can file a right to be forgotten request to ask the search engine to remove it. But usually, removing a result is almost impossible, and so a better option is to contact the webmaster directly and to ask them to either remove the page or to update it with more accurate information.
If the search reveals old photos or blog posts that are no longer relevant, you can remove them yourself if you have the relevant access. Otherwise, your best bet is to focus on creating new, high quality content that will push the older results off the front page, where people are less likely to see them.
One of the most obvious reasons for doing all of this is for the purpose of reputation management. Even the average person on the street should take the time to audit what comes up when you search for them, and for creative types – from authors and bloggers to artists, filmmakers and more – it’s more important than ever.
That’s because, as an author, you make a living from your reputation. When people read your books, they’ll typically do a little research beforehand, by checking out reviews, by seeing what people are saying about you on forums and discussion sites, and by simply tapping your name into a search engine to see what comes up.
And that’s exactly why vanity searches are so important. You’re not doing it to boost your ego – you’re doing it as part of a practical, concentrated effort to secure your reputation. As an author, you need to know what people are saying about you, regardless of where and when they’re saying it. Vanity searches are a key way for you to do just that.
Have you ever carried out a vanity search? If so, did the results surprise you? And if not, will you be carrying them out in the future? Let me know what you think with a comment!
More about the author:
This post is written by Dane Cobain and sponsored by Publishing Addict, an organisation that specialises in building websites for authors to help them to establish a brand, connect with their readers and to sell more books.
Find Dane on his website: www.DaneCobain.com