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Why do I need a gravatar?

The idea of a “gravatar” is pretty neat.  The word is short for “globally recognized avatar”, meaning an image that represents you (like a headshot) that can automatically appear when needed. From their site:

Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog.

You’ve probably seen gravatars on sites around the internet, particularly in comment sections like in the screenshot below:


It’s important to note that this is not the same as your Google Authorship image.  While your Authorship image will appear in search results, your Gravatar will appear in WordPress control panels, blog comments and other areas like that.

What kind of picture should I use?

Unlike Authorship, your Gravatar doesn’t necessarily need to be a photo of yourself.  That said, we highly recommend that it is.  Having a consistent image for yourself on the internet will allow others to begin to recognize you as you participate in different places, which will help in establishing new relationships.

How do I get started, and how do I use it?

The way it works is pretty simple and pretty slick.  After you sign up on (for free), they will connect your email address to your photo.  Whenever you use that email address on a Gravtar-enabled site, it will grab your current image.  That’s it! If you have more than one email address, you can attach multiple addresses to a single gravatar account and choose what image to use with each address.

Keep your image fresh

I try to change out my personal avatar somewhere around once a year, and Gravatar makes it a much easier transition.  If you change your image on Gravatar, any sites that are using it will automatically be updated!  When I change to a new image of myself, I usually hit these first:

  • Gravatar
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+ (which also takes care of my Authorship image)

After that, I just clean up the other ones as I come across them.

Be human

I’ve found that you get more out of your online relationships if you can be more human and authentic.  A decent photo of yourself can go a long way to help toward that, and Gravatar is an excellent tool to use.

Have you set up your Gravatar yet?

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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