author-bio

The insider’s guide to crafting an online author bio with SEO in mind

This article shows you:

  • how to construct the best online author bio for social profiles and guest posting
  • examples of good and bad author bios

A short professional bio has become increasingly important. Most of us suffer from information fatigue and cannot be bothered to read lengthy documents about anybody. Experts such as Matthew Levy reckon your bio is the most important document you will ever write.” - Jorgen Sundberg

The author bio – an innocent-looking piece of text on your social profiles, articles and website. Of course, we are going to tell you that it’s much more important than you think.

In approximately three sentences, visitors to your respective corner on the interwebs will decide if they like the sound of you or not. The information conveyed in the author bio can make or break a decision to a) subscribe to your newsletter, b) to comment on your posts, c) to share your product, or d) whatever it is you are currently peddling.

Takeaways from studying other people’s author bios

The basis of [future] SEO updates will be about finding the most trustworthy sources of information on the internet based on social sentiment. The number of times an article or person is linked to is what will increase rankings in Google. The author bio is part and parcel of your internet presence and can be used to increase your authority and also direct people to where you want them to go.

Here is what can be learnt by spending an hour reading bios from top blogs and websites:

  • the quality of your bio will get people to trust you
  • include your most impressive credentials (e.g. on most of the internet, getting a BA is not impressive – MA or PhD is fine)
  • keep it short unless you have a lot of cool credentials
  • what you say should relate to the website the bio is appearing – you need to make sense to the audience as to why you are there
  • write in the third/first person – a personal choice between professional objectivity and personalised outreach (generally, third person is more popular)
  • 30 words/3 sentences is a decent limit
  • if you are unknown, have social media links/website link
  • the links need to direct people to what you want them to see about you

Designing the perfect author bio

Step 1

What do you want people to do when they read it?

a) go to a website?

b) share this piece of content?

c) follow you?

d) contact you?

e) sign up for a service?

Decide what the call to action for your bio will be.

Step 2

Will your audience prefer first or third person?

The benefits of writing in third person are that it a) sounds like someone else wrote it, b) gives people your name directly “John Doe is…” as opposed to “Hi my name is John Doe and I…”, c) gives an aura of professional distance. Generally, sticking to the third person is more foolproof.

Writing in the first person allows you to be more personal and share some quirks that your particular audience enjoys. This works well for those who have an identifiable following or are in a more creative industry. It is less advisable if you are relatively unknown. People are not so willing to put faith in a stranger who says he loves vampire movies, despite being a talented whatever. It also may sound decidedly un-businesslike to some as well.

Use third person when you are on other people’s websites and on commenting tools such as Disqus. Use first person on your home website and personal social media profiles. Decide what the “personal quirk” for your personal bio will be (no politics, religion or other highly divisive issues).

You will need a third person and a first person bio prepared.

Step 3

What are your most impressive accomplishments?

  1. top awards?
  2. building a successful company?
  3. position on a company?
  4. working for a big name/brand?
  5. publications?
  6. personal achievements?

Choose 2 – 3 of your achievements/characteristics most relevant to where your bio is appearing.

Step 4

What are you doing right now?

Most people define themselves by their jobs. You can be more creative about it if you like – a blogger could also describe him/herself as a “wordsmith extraordinaire”, if they wanted to add some flair. This would, again, depend on the audience you are expecting to win over.

Write a 10-word sentence about what you are doing right now.

OK, so what have we got?

  1. You will need a third person and a first person bio prepared.
  2. Write a 10-word (max.) sentence about what you are doing right now.
  3. Choose 2 – 3 of your achievements/characteristics most relevant to where your bio is appearing.
  4. Decide what the call to action/purpose of your bio will be.
  5. Decide the “personal quirk” for your personal bio.

Case study #1: Denis Duvauchelle’s author bio on The Next Web

What is Denis doing right now?

Denis stated his full name (linked to his Twitter account), most important title, and included a website link (with a tracker code so he would know which bio got clicked) of where he wanted people to go:

Denis Duvauchelle is the CEO and co-founder of Twoodo ...

What is the call to action/purpose?

To tell people about what his product does:

… helping your team organize itself using simple #hashtags.

Relevance to the publication

This bio appeared on The Next Web, and Denis wanted to attract startups, people interested in collaboration tools and supporters of remote working – Twoodo’s brand. The readership of The Next Web was identified as an ideal audience for this. The long-form author bio is currently this:

author-bio

Case study #2: Denis’s personal bio on Twitter

What is Denis doing right now?

He establishes authority by stating that he is CEO and a contributor to a top website:

#productivity freak. CEO of @twoodo Help your team organize itself using simple #hashtags Contributor to @thenextweb.

What is the call to action/purpose?

To tell people in a simple manner what his product does.

Relevance to the publication

Twitter is a platform for seeking like-minded people, so he puts the hashtags they are most likely to use in his bio to make his profile easy to find:

#productivity and #hashtags (the tool is based on hashtags)

Full bio:

author-bio

Other factors to take into account…

  • word limits (the famed 140-character limit)
  • link limits (usually 2)
  • editor of a publication may define what you specifically can and cannot say
  • are you representing a company or representing you?
  • you may need a long-form bio for some places

And remember…

Keep an account of where your bios are visible, and preferably what each says. When you change career, change the call to action and so on you will need to update all of them. Re-visit your bio every 3 – 6 months (i.e. a reasonable amount of time during which you think you will have something different to say).

Here are some additional questions you should ask yourself before you begin to write your online author bio.

Let’s rate some bios!

Example 1:

author-bio

This is extremely short and concise. We know this person’s two occupations and specialities in two sentences. We know she is a great writer because the website she writes content for only accepts the best, so she doesn’t need any more credentials than that. We can easily find her on Twitter and Facebook, and also visit her website which shows transparency. The photo has her wearing a crown, conveying a humorous character. It is neither showing off nor being humble – the tone is perfect.

Trust rating? 8,5

Example 2

author-bio

Too long! The first sentence was enough. There was also no reason to ask people to follow her on Twitter since the social share buttons are just below. This comes across as far too self-indulgent but yet does not specify which places she has actually worked for. The ending tries to get some humour across but most people wouldn’t have bothered reading that far. The photo was pretty big so I cut it out – it was nice, I promise.

Trust rating? 6

Example 3

author-bio

Impressive credentials make this serious bio interesting to read. It shows off skills but in a matter-of-fact tone. There are no social media connections available nor website – however, the publications listed mean he is probably pretty easy to find.

Trust rating? 9

Example 4

author-bio

The first accomplishment mentioned is boring. This bio takes a more story-like form, which works for those in the literature industry, which he clearly seems to be aiming for. However, this was on a tech website. I’m confused – why would this tech website be a perfect place to write for him? It sounds like he’s forcing out as much fancy wording as possible with the hope of… I have no idea. If I’m on a tech website, I want someone who knows how to write about tech.

Trust rating? 4

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David Arnoux

I'm David Arnoux, co-founder of Twoodo. I write about growth hacking, startups and lean methodology. Come say hi on Twitter or on Google+
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