Most firms now recognize the importance of developing a powerful online brand. Now, an increasing number of professionals have started to recognize the benefits of developing a personal brand.
Many people recognize that a personal online brand could be as important (possibly more so) than a company brand when looking to win a new client, get a conference speaking pitch approved or be asked for expert opinions from the media. Online reputation management has also become a very important aspect of recruiting.
When investigating a person, the first place most people will go is Google. Rather than having a results page full of information about your unrelated namesakes, or neutral—or even worse, negative—listings about yourself, why not try to portray yourself in a positive light?
It’s not as difficult as you might think to influence Google search results for your own name, although the task will be far more difficult for some than others. If you are an SEO named Barack Obama then I’d recommend changing your name!
There are clearly certain types of results that professionals want to appear for a vanity search. It’s obviously great if you can control as many of the top ten listings as possible, and ideally you want this to consist of company profile pages, media mentions and so on.
Below, some examples of how you can use social media to help ensure ranking as highly as possible in Google for your “personal brand.”
Image credit: Gary Hayes and Laurel Papworth
Blogging. Blogging is an excellent method of building a strong reputation within an industry. If hundreds or even thousands of people are subscribing to read your content and expert opinions, then this is clearly something you want searchers to find when they come looking for you online.
Most blogs are likely to be hosted on either a company or personal domain and the natural links generated should help to ensure this has a strong reputation in the search engines.
Quick tip: Make sure you have an author profile page which is linked to from each of your posts as this helps to build the strength and relevancy of your profile page to increase search rankings for queries on your name. It also means that users will find a useful landing page, displaying an overview of latest posts and articles.
Guest blogging. If you work hard on your own blog and keep it fresh with useful content, you can normally expect to rank for two of the top ten listings in Google at best. However, in addition to this you may have opportunities to guest blog at similar related websites.
There are many advantages (and disadvantages) to consider when guest blogging, but in many cases you can reach a wider audience of readers and enhancing your online reputation by adding another valuable source of content into your listings for a Google vanity search.
Quick tip: Offer to write guest posts for some of the top blogs which you admire within your industry but also make yourself available for interviews or blogger profiles.
Twitter. Similar to blogging, Twitter is an excellent method of building a strong online reputation within an industry. If you can build a following of relevant users by providing valuable tweets, you’ll probably find that your profile page will be highly regarded in the search engines too.
If potential clients are looking for more information about you, then a Twitter profile containing expert advice and related conversations is going to help strengthen your reputation in the eyes of the searcher.
Quick tip: Interact within the community by adding value to online conversations and building a trusted profile. This may require a large amount of effort but it’s very easy to spot a disinterested user and building a well-connected profile can prove to be a very powerful networking tool, plus it acts as a great landing page for users visiting via the search engines.
Business social media networking. Many people have profiles on business networking sites such as LinkedIn and Plaxo. These are great sites to show a professional profile containing your career history to browsing users, letting them know straight away the company you are currently working for, if people are looking to contact or reconnect with you.
Quick tip: LinkedIn profiles are reasonably easy to optimize, make full use of the editable URL’s, make a large amount of your profile public visible (so that this is cached by search engines.) Whenever possible, try to promote your business profiles by linking to them directly from sites where this is relevant.
Online presentations. If you’ve spoken at a conference, seminar or workshop, upload your presentation to SlideShare and Scribd. This will allow people to view and download your presentations, plus it’s another chance to optimize for your name (or company name) and show that you are a highly respected speaker.
Quick tip: Optimize your profile by editing your details and strengthen the number of internal links to your profile page by connecting with relevant users.
Online video. Similar to online presentations, if you have any video recordings of conference or seminar speaking events then upload the ones you find appropriate to online video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.
If someone is searching for more information about you and can find an online video presentation, this could go a long way towards enhancing your reputation to the searcher.
Quick tip: Try using a headline in the style of [Presentation Name by "Author Name"]. this will be used as the title tag and on-page heading and will help to optimize for your name as important keywords.
Social media networking. Once you have targeted the main positive listings you want to appear in the search engines, why not try controlling even more real estate with some more neutral listings? The obvious ones are profile pages on sites such as Facebook (grab that vanity URL!), Flickr, Digg and StumbleUpon.
Quick tip: Try to actively contribute in niche social media communities (such as Sphinn for the search industry), showing that you are keeping up-to-date with latest news and trends.
So there you have it: follow these tips and you should be dominating a Google query for your personal in next to no time!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.