A question that I’ve seen appear on a lot of British actor forums is whether or not actors need their own websites. Many say yes, and others, citing that they have paid their Spotlight membership fees and have their CV online through that, say no.
I side with the latter, though not for the reason they give.
In today’s world having a website might seem like a necessity. As actors, we are simultaneously a brand, a product, and a service, so we need to market ourselves. Having a website seems like an easy way to do that, as we can send links to the site to potential clients, and search engines can find us thanks to our wonderful SEO! Life’s a doddle when you have a website!
But a website is not a necessity. I can send clients to YouTube to see examples of work, and if I do the videos properly I can give them a call to action to call me. If I have a page on IMDb, I can point people in that direction, and I know that Google will find it. The same goes for having a Facebook page, a Twitter page, a Google+ account, or countless other places I can have a page. These aren’t web sites, but web presences, and a web presence is something you need.
A web presence is what you need. I’ll go into more specifics in future posts, but think about it this way. If you want to know more about a brand or product, you look online. If you want to find out how to contact a company (and we are in effect all our own company), you’ll Google them. If you want to show a lot of people your own, you could either spend a lot of time and money getting DVDs together and posting them out, or you could collect some email addresses and email links to YouTube. A web presence makes marketing yourself cheaper and easier. It also helps you get into search results pages; I get people who look for “Nottingham voice over” contacting me because I come up in the search results, and it hasn’t cost me anywhere near the amount it would have done to do a traditional mailing.
“But Karl,” you start to ask, “I could point people to my Spotlight page”. That’s true, but there’s a secret behind Spotlight which stops it being as effective for you as it could be.
Many people think that Search Engines (Google, Bing, etc.) crawl the whole internet and give the best results to people’s search query. However, there is a way to stop a search engine from looking at a page or a folder on the internet. Spotlight does this with the CV pages, adding some code to tell all search engines not to see the page or follow any links they come across. Most companies do the same thing; there are areas of sites that, for whatever reason, the site owner doesn’t want to appear in search results pages.
Do you want your potential clients to see your name in the credits of their favourite show, and they use Google to try and find you, but your only web presence is something that Google won’t look at?
You need a separate web presence which Google, Bing, Yahoo, Jeeves, Duck Duck Go or any other search engine can find. You also need an online marketing and SEO strategy to make sure that when people are looking for actors, yours is a name that comes up in search results.
But that’s a lesson for another Actor Online.