You already know that Google is a great search engine. Its maps are pretty cool too. But every time I do a speaking engagement and talk to actors about setting up Google Alerts for the casting directors, agents, managers, showrunners, directors, and producers on their target list, I see two things happen: eyes glaze over as if I’m speaking in gibberish, and lightbulbs pop over the heads of the actors whose eyes haven’t glazed over. Usually only two or three people in the room have fully harnessed the power of Google in their efforts as self-managing actors. Even fewer know how to plant information that is “Googleable” on their personal websites in order to drive traffic their way.
A couple of weeks ago, I talked specifically about setting up Google Alerts for the few top people you’re targeting in the industry. Have you done that? Did you do too many? Have you become overwhelmed by the contents of your inbox now? Okay, then your research was too broad to really help you come up with a true hit list. What are the few shows on which you could (and should) be right now? Who are the few filmmakers on whose next projects you need to be seen? Get your focus nice and narrow in order to make the most out of your Google Alerts.
Now, what about that whole “planting information” to make it “Googleable” thing? Ah, that came up just a few days ago with this wonderful actor friend of mine who has been on a very exciting booking streak. We’ve been working together for over a year now, overall, but really cooking on some marketing tactics in the past few months. Cristina Cimellaro recently booked and shot a national commercial for Sprint. You know that whole campaign they have going with, “What if roadies ran the world” (at an airport) and, “What if delivery people ran the world” (at a school) and such? Well, without spoiling what the next version is going to be, I can say that Cristina is going to be one of the people whose life is positively affected because of the community that rules the world on her wedding day, using the Sprint products and services.
We were talking about ways in which Cristina could best take advantage of having booked and shot this ad, which will begin airing later this month. Postcards, sure. That’s always cool. So is an update to the “news” section of an acting-related website. A blog entry detailing the time spent on the set, along with a couple of candids in costume, also rocks. But how can Cristina really drive traffic to herself (for future bookings) once this ad starts running, nationally? Ah, that’s easy! Behold, the Power of Google!
Right now, today, Cristina needs to start putting language in her website (either in the meta tags that Google searches out or right on the page somewhere — a news page or even on the main page of the site in the same color font as the background, so the words are indexed and searched without actually “appearing” on the page itself) that leads people to her. Especially with commercials, this is essential. There’s no IMDb for commercials, and many times, I hear people in the industry asking, “Who’s the little girl who speaks in text and says, ‘IDK, my BFF Jill‘ in that commercial,” or, “Who’s the woman who says, ‘Gravity is no longer my enemy. But brownies are‘ while in her bra,” or “Who’s the kid who talks about the pizza company’s ‘pasta-tude‘ at dinner?” And if those questions are ever Googled, wouldn’t you like to provide the industry with the answer to those questions, when the answer is you?!? Heck, yeah!
So, “Who is the bride in the Sprint commercial?” is a great question to plant — and then answer — somewhere on Cristina’s website. It’s also fair game for a Yahoo! Answers back-and-forth with a fan (AKA a supportive family member in another city). Let Google get that question and answer in its mitts before people start asking. Post the update on your IMDb message board. Blog about it. Twitter about it. Use all of those tips in The Delicate Art of Self-Promotion to get the word out. And also make sure, when folks start seeing the commercial and trying to figure out who the heck that actor is, that the answer is easy to find. Your agents will thank you!
Have a hard-to-spell name? Do what my friend Eitan Loewenstein did and create a space on your website that helps people redirect to you, even if they mangle the spelling of your name when they search it. The landing page itself doesn’t even have to have any content beyond the various misspellings of the name and a big ol’ link that gets folks started on the content they’re actually craving. Some web-savvy folks will make that landing page automatically redirect to the main page. But even a click-through will do. Once you’ve helped Google help us get to your page, we’re happy to be there.
What’s your best trick, making technology work for you? This is just the tip of a very large iceberg and I’d love to hear from you, most awesome actors, about how you harness the power of Google (or anything else) to maximize your acting options.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001013.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.