I came across a blog post the other day on problems that people run into in choosing, creating and sharing their URLs. With that in mind, here’s my take on how to make sure your do your author website URL properly.
First, let’s define a URL for those of you who are sick of ATMs and GNCs (enough abbreviations, right?). A URL is basically your web address. For authors, it’s often YourName.com or YourBookTitle.com.
But choosing your URL and conveying it properly isn’t as easy as you’d think. Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to choose your web address:
1. Consider common misspellings. Unless your name is Mike Smith or Tom Jones, it’s likely that someone might misspell your name when they go to type in your URL. So make sure to reserve alternate URLs with common misspellings of your name and have them redirect to your website.
2. Take advantage of caps. The internet doesn’t distinguish between capital letters and lowercase letters. So if you type in MIKESMITH.com, it takes you to the same place as mikesmith.com. Which means that it’s up to you to decide how you want to present your URL. So should your URL appear on your website and other materials in all caps or all lowercase letters? Neither! Domain names should never appear in all caps or all lowercase. That’s makes it hard to read. So make the first letter of each word capitalized and the rest lowercase. MikeSmith.com or MikeSmithsBooks.com. Much easier, right?
3. No spaces or special characters! In the real world, there may be a space between your first name and last name. In your email address, there may be a dot or an underscore. But in a URL, there should be none of the above. No one wants to have to tell people to go to Mike.Smith.com. It’s just “MikeSmith.com.” Or if that domain name isn’t available, “AuthorMikeSmith.com.” And a space isn’t even an option in a URL.
4. Get your domain name on one line. When you design your site, make sure your entire URL fits on one line. Ditto on your business cards. Once you break it up to two lines, it just gets confusing.
5. Ditch the “http://” When you’re doing interviews or book signings, you want to be able to quickly tell people how to find your website. So don’t waste your time repeating “http … colon … slash slash” (and don’t even get me started on people saying “backslash” — a very, very common mistake). In fact, most of the time you don’t even need to say “www.” Just say “MikeSmith.com” and leave it at that. It’s easier for you to say, and easier for people to remember. And it makes you sound much more tech-savvy.
Do you have any other words of wisdom about choosing or displaying your URL? If so, please share it here!
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