Right let’s start by getting through the jargon. A Gravatar is a Globally Recognised avatar. An avatar is a graphical representation for a user online. In layman’s terms it’s an image linked to your personal profile, a logo for you if you like.
The essence of WordPress is blogging. Blogs are articles published on websites, the name incidentally derives from the term ‘web log’. Blogs, like this one, should be interesting, relevant and unique so as to engage the reader and stimulate comments. If you were to comment on this blog post (go on why don’t you?) you’ll see that alongside your name and above your comment there’s a box which will be blank unless you’ve created your own Gravatar. My Gravatar on this site, the dD logo, is displayed proudly to the left of this post. I’m going to make a sweeping assumption here that you don’t have your own Gravatar, so I’ll move on now to explain why you should.
The film directed by James Cameron has nothing to do with this at all
Why should I create a Gravatar?
I’ve written previously in this blog about preparing images to use in WordPress and why they’re so important. Images help to engage the reader. Text alone doesn’t do it, images are hugely powerful; the eye is drawn to them. So imagine you’re scanning the comments below a blog post. Which ones are you more likely to read? Those with the blue off (or is it on?) symbol next to them (this is the official Gravatar logo by the way) or the ones with an image?
If you are commenting on a blog that is closely aligned to your own it might be you’re there because you want to direct some of the traffic back to your site. If the owner is kind enough to let you add a link in your comment to your site, then you may attract a few. These link backs have a key part to play in search engine optimisation. Google and the other search engines look for these. Your position on search engine results pages is influenced by the number you manage to place legitimately. For the record, link backs to your site within the main body of the post are even better.
There are plenty of other reasons why creating a Gravatar is a good idea. You only need to do it once and it only takes minutes. Provided the website you’re commenting on is set up to recognise Gravatar’s, and most WordPress websites are, each time you comment using the email address associated with your Gravatar, your image will appear next to your comment.
It makes it look like you know what you’re talking about! Having an image next to your comment gives you kudos. You may be familiar with Google Authorship. This is when the photo of the author appears next to the article they’ve written on search engine results pages. People are much more likely to click on these articles, simply because of the image.
Using a Gravatar helps to communicate your brand. Many business owners use a square version of their logo as their Gravatar. Increasing the visibility of your business in the right places can only be a positive thing.
How do I create a Gravatar?
The good news is it’s really simple. You go to the official Gravatar website. If you have a WordPress.com account then you can log in and get started. If not you need to create an account. Either way it’s free.
The email address you register with will be the one you need to use when you submit comments. If you’re writing your own posts using WordPress then you’ll need to ensure your user profile is set up using that same email address so that your Gravatar appears alongside your post. You can add additional email addresses and images to your account if like me you have multiple personas!
Once you’re logged in it’s just a case of uploading an image to your account. It will be resized for you automatically and you’ll have the opportunity to crop it.
Grab a Gravatar!
And that’s all there is to it. Creating my own Gravatar was one of the first things I did when I discovered WordPress. It’s amazing that there are so many people out there not using them. Hopefully you’ll help this post spread so that in time there will be less blue boxes and more interesting icons out there for everyone contributing in WordPress.
Do you agree? Maybe you think avatars are a complete waste of time. Get your thoughts off your chest below.