The ten blue links displayed when you type your company name into a search engine, not your company’s homepage, is where most people first interact with your business. What they see on that search engine page, be it positive or negative, will have a lasting impact.
However, for many small businesses it is the business owner the customer is buying into, not the business brand. If nothing comes up when you put your own name into Google, what does that say about you? Or even worse, if the only things that come up are personal photos you would rather keep private, then your search engine footprint needs some serious attention.
Below are seven quick tips to help improve your personal brand online.
1. Blog. Having a good blog habit is one of the simplest ways to ensure you control your personal online brand. However, the act of creating a blog is not enough. You need to generate content, ideally lots of content. The more posts you write, the more content a search engine will have to index, and the more content others will be able to link to; both of which positively impact what appears when your name is searched. If you’re a business owner, place your blog on your business URL, but ensure you use your own name as the author.
2. Tweet. A step down in effort from blogging is Twitter. The major search engines rank Twitter high in their results. Aided by the 140 character limit, there is an incredibly low barrier for entry into the world of Twitter, so set up an account and add your Tweets to the 50 million odd tweets that are created each day.
3. Use your name. If you want to be found on the web, make sure you are optimising around your name. If available, purchase the URL for your name – eg matthewgain.com. Also, ensure your Twitter handle is your name, and customise your Facebook and LinkedIn URLs to include your name. Learn how to do it for Facebook here and LinkedIn here. Of course this will be more effective for people with a unique name as opposed to all the Bob Smiths or Li Chens out there.
4. Understand how people search. Use the Google AdWords Keyword tool to understand how people search for your skill set. Put in the word that you think best represents what you want to be known for. For example a search on ‘PR’ shows that ‘communications’ is also a highly searched word. Armed with the knowledge of what people are searching for, use the terms in the content you create for your blog and in your online profiles or bios to help align with what people are searching for.
5. Be everywhere. When it comes to optimising your personal online brand, the more online presences you have, the better. The popular social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, like Twitter, are featured high in searches for people’s names.
6. Remove the bad stuff. Just as easily as search engines find the good stuff, they will also return the bad stuff. If there are images of you that you wouldn’t want people to see, delete them.
7. Think before you post. Think very carefully before you post content to the web. Simply think, “Am I happy with potential clients seeing this?” If the answer is no, don’t post it.
I would love to hear what the search engines say about your personal brands and if any of the tips above help. Likewise if you have any other tips add them to the comments box below.