Mission: Identify twelve search keywords that would lead others to find you online. Go.
It’s okay, I’ll wait. Am waiting… Okay, two keywords. Can you come up with two?
I know, right? It’s really hard. But that’s what I have to do as part of a website redesign project I’m currently undertaking. If I want to be found online by those who don’t know my name (and there are a few of you), I must condense my online ramblings, posts, writing topics, and areas of specialized interest or expertise into a dozen keywords. These words can’t be too general like ‘traveller’ or ‘expat’ because I’ll never compete with Condé Nast Traveller Magazine or the billion other hits you’ll get under those search terms. They can’t include the vague term ‘writer’ because Poe, Rowling, Hemingway, and King seem to pip me to the post. I can’t be too specific either, like using the word ‘hiraeth’, because although hiraeth – meaning ‘intense longing for home with a sense of loss’- is ingrained in my very soul after so many years of geographical searching, it’s not a word many others know. Or can spell. Searches may be limited, therefore, to the one person on the planet who wakes up and says, ‘Today I’ll search the word “hiraeth” to see if anyone out there has written a novel about it. Oh, and let’s hope said novel also includes Exmoor ponies.’ A bit too niche, don’t you think? Another favourite word of mine is coddiwomple – ‘to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination’. It defines both my own life’s journey and the novels I write. But is it a good keyword? Hands up if you’ve ever searched coddiwomple. Anyone? I thought not.
What to do. What to do. I blog, pay dues for a website, and scroll endlessly through millions of other people’s social media posts, (forgetting to mention my books on my own accounts), but marketing guru, I am not. By the way, if you search ‘marketing guru’, Seth Godin pops up. He’s everywhere. Well done, Seth. Admittedly, I’m not on every social media platform. I stick to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram mainly because I’m not expected to dance on those. Or at least I don’t think I am. And I’m not expected to use a filter that turns my face into a rabbit or gives me horns or transforms my voice into that of a robot on helium. I mean, who the heck would look for me, humorous fiction writer of a ‘certain age’, on TikTok and what would I be doing there if they did? Jamming to Uptown Funk while making my morning porridge or filming myself typing ‘The End’ on my latest novel in slow motion while my dog plays the accordion in the background? I have a feeling that last bit just shows I have no idea what TikTok does or even is. Which would be true. I bet Seth’s on TikTok. But I digress…
I should have a better handle by now on Who I Am. Professionally that is. I’ve given up trying to answer that question on a personal level, much to my family’s relief. So let’s get back to who’s looking for me online. And why. (Between you and me, I’m a bit afraid to ask, because what if the only one looking for me is that guy serving two years for pirating copies of independent novels? Or that kid I rolled down a steep hill on a dustbin lid when I was eight? Oh, come on! He wasn’t even hurt and Mum made me apologize and that’s all in the past and can we just move on now, please? This approach works in politics. Until it doesn’t.)
Maybe I’m asking the wrong question. Maybe the question isn’t, ‘Who’s looking for me?’. The question is, ‘Who’s NOT looking for me but will learn to love me if I can only identify the right keywords to get myself on their radar?’. Fear of discovery shouldn’t play a part in this. I love writing and I’m so grateful for the positive feedback I receive from readers. I need to put myself out there more and I’ve found a great professional design team to help with that.
I must march onwards in my search for search terms that improve my searchability in search engines. It’s like my perpetual search for home only without frequent flyer points or jetlag. I vow to spend the rest of the week soul-searching in order to produce my twelve terms that depict my core essence. This task will provide the perfect excuse for not getting back to editing my current work-in-progress. Procrastinator! That could be one of my search terms! I just know I’ll come up as number one in that. I’ll check it out. Later.
Happy googling to all of you reading this. Delighted you found me.
(PS Tim Urban’s funny TED Talk about procrastination comes up if you search that word. I’m not mentioned. At all. Which is good news. I think.)
Images: Alpha Stock Images