Have you ever Googled someone before hiring them for a job or before going on a date with them? In today’s always-connected world, it’s not difficult to learn more about a person of interest online.
The internet literally makes the world smaller, but at a price. Jon Ronson’s book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed details the trials and tribulations of people whose internet search results would betray their ability to find new work or connect with new people.
Clearly, your reputation, or at least what people can glean about you from a quick search on your name, is something to be protected. Even if you haven’t done anything worthy of tabloid coverage, it’s much better to “own” your coverage than to let other outlets dictate it on your behalf.
Why Bother with Personal SEO?
Besides offering the ability to take charge of your online reputation, personal SEO can also help to distinguish yourself from other people with the same name. With over 7 billion people in the world, if you have a common first and last name, it can be hard for people to know for sure who is who, and if you have an internet presence, to know which pages are yours.
Personal SEO impacts several aspects of your online identity:
- People search to expand their networks: to find new clients or business partners and people from their past to connect with
- Recruiters and companies look through a potential candidate’s social media profiles and online presence to find candidates that are qualified (and to verify qualifications)
- Creating a distinctive personal brand that has a strong strategy can help set you apart from others in your industry or job role
Before being found, a person should be searchable. This is where personal SEO comes in.
What Do I Have to Do to Impact My Personal SEO?
Before getting into the specific accounts, you should set up to take control of your personal SEO and reputation, keep this guidance in mind:
Choose a Personal Brand Name
It will be hard to rank for common names with a lot of competition, so you might instead opt to optimize your results for a specific brand name with sticking power. For example, a search for WordPress specialist John Gamboa will yield several different results, so he chose to go by JP Gamboa for his website.
Name checker tools like namechk.com can search the availability of your desired domain name and vanity URLs for social media sites in just one click.
Make Your Names in All Accounts Cohesive
There are some people that put their middle initial in their business cards but do not do so on their online profiles. Recruiters looking for these people may have a hard time correlating who is who, especially when the names of these people are common. In some cases, they may move on to the next candidate because of this confusion.
Furthermore, if recruiters cannot find anything online about a person, they might think that the person is out-of-date, hiding, or using a fake name—all things you don’t want to put in a potential employer’s head before giving you a chance!
Secure Your Vanity URLs
Or, a username that remains the same across all of your social media accounts. This helps searchers identify that the owner of these accounts are one and the same.
Identify Your Most Important Keywords
In personal SEO, your name is the most important keyword.
69% of recruiters use search engines to search a potential candidate’s name, while 70% search through social media. That said, you’ll want to also be aware of the keywords you’re associated with, especially for people with common names. So if you’re a lawyer, you want to optimize online profiles for keywords associated with practicing law.
It’s also important to keep these keywords current. For example, no one uses MIS anymore; it’s now referred to as IT.
Defensive Googling is periodically (weekly or monthly) checking your name on Google and Bing to see if there are any major changes in relevant search results. If you don’t do so, you may miss an opportunity to address potentially negative search results.
Being proactive can help you to uncover instances of:
- Mistaken identity: Perhaps some version of your namesake has committed a crime. This could make recruiters or potential clients lose interest in you if you’re not properly framing the discussion.
- Embarrassments from your past use of the internet, like suggestive photos, videos, and bad language.
- Famous or infamous people that share your name and push you down the search results so that it does not seem like you have any online presence.
How to Cultivate a Positive Online Presence
First off, know that all of your online activities are visible, observed, recorded, and stored. Even if you delete something, it can still be stored in a database somewhere online. Think about that before posting something you may regret in the future.
On that note, work to create positive visibility for yourself. Create helpful content or posts that project your ideal image. For example, if you’re trying to position yourself as a marketing expert, create marketing content on your blog, schedule tweets sharing the latest in marketing trends, and contribute guest posts to high authority marketing sites to get your name out. All of these activities will help to promote a positive reputation under relevant search results for your name.
Profiles to Have for Personal SEO
Here are the various online entities you’ll want to set up to assist with reputation management and personal SEO:
Blog or Website
Having your own blog or website is the best way to “control the narrative” because websites are not subject to the same flux of algorithm changes that social media sites are. With regards to personal SEO, the thing you need to work on most for your website is to create the best “About Me” page you can. If you’re not sure where to start, Melyssa Griffin has some solid tips about writing a great About Me page.
LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. It’s extremely helpful for people seeking job opportunities or just for connecting with other professionals.
You can use your LinkedIn profile as a searchable resume. If you want more people to reach you, make it as complete as possible. You can also establish yourself as a market leader by writing blog posts on LinkedIn’s publishing platform about the topics you’re good at. You can even copy over posts you’ve written for your personal blog, as republishing on LinkedIn is not considered duplicate content to Google.
Almost everyone has a Google account, and by virtue of that, it’s easy to setup a Google+ account. Optimize the profile that you know Google will definitely index by optimizing your snippet. The snippet is the part that Google displays about your G+ profile when people search for you. Like LinkedIn, the more complete your profile, the better, so make sure to also add a tagline, occupation, your location, and an introduction.
Facebook pages rank high on Google searches and are the top social drivers of traffic to a website. Having a Facebook page makes you seem more “legit,” as most people start their reputation-based searches there. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure your primary photo is professional.
Twitter profiles also rank extremely high on Google searches and provide you with a way to communicate with your audience. If you’re just getting started, here are some tips to write a Twitter bio that converts.
Quora is a Q&A site with pages that rank well on Google searches. Many individuals see Quora as a way to get links to their websites by answering to questions they are experts on. Don’t forget to optimize your profile to show a photo, and include your most important keywords under your featured interests.
Video is huge right now on just about every social platform. Youtube has over a billion users, around ⅓ of the internet, and more than 500 million hours of video are watched on Youtube every day. On that note, more content is uploaded on Youtube in 30 days than most major US television networks have created in 30 years.
Video also drives 157% more organic traffic from SERPs, and Youtube on its own is considered as the second biggest/most popular search engine next to Google.
With all these facts in mind, it certainly pays to involve video as a part of your online personal brand. To invoke the benefits of optimizing for personal SEO, use your name in the title and description. If you optimize your YouTube video right, you’ll be able to see it in relevant search engine results.
Personal SEO: 7 Pages to Set-up for your Reputation
Some things on the internet can haunt people and deter them from getting the opportunities they want, especially when people’s first impression of them online is negative. Luckily, with a little bit of personal SEO strategy, you can control the narrative. After all, if people can curate their Instagram feeds, they can most definitely curate their professional online presence.
Need some help taking control of your reputation? Get in touch with the SEO experts at Results Driven Marketing at (215)-393-8700. We are always ready to hear out your personal SEO or digital marketing questions!