Personal Branding Tips, SEO, and Red Socks

By: Guest | January 17, 2013 | 

Today’s guest post is by Andy Crestodina.

Sometime during sophomore year in college, I decided to wear red socks.

That day, I threw out all of my old socks and bought a dozen pairs of new red ones.

Since that day, I’ve only worn one color socks: Red.

Once people learn this, they often ask to check my socks when they see me.

And I often get the question, “Why?”

Honestly, it was a whim.

But after 20 years the effect is that when people see red socks anywhere, they think of me.

The outcome is personal branding.

Topic = You

Your personal brand is who you are to the professional world. It’s what people think of when they think of you. It’s why they think of you when they think of that topic.

Pick a topic in your field and a niche within the topic. Then own it. This is what you’re going to wear everyday. It might not be on your feet, but it should be on your card and on every one of your social media profiles. So here we go. These are my best personal branding tips.

Rank First for “Your Niche” + “Expert”

Ranking high in Google for your name is one thing. Personal SEO is important, but there’s more to personal branding. Once you’ve decided on your brand and your topic, you need to create a page on your site that ranks for you as a leader for your niche.

First, use the Google Keyword Tool to find a very specific phrase that brands you as an expert. It can be a combination of the niche phrase and the words “expert” or “professional.” It might be three or even four words long.

The phrase might get very few searches, less than 50 per month. In fact, it might not even show up in the keyword tool. That’s ok! In this case, that’s good because lower volume phrases are much less competitive. It will be easier to rank.

Plus, everyone who searches for this phrase is highly targeted. They’re looking for you.

Here are some examples of phrases that anyone could rank for easily:

  • Marketing Organization Restructuring Expert
  • Chicago Antique Firearms Appraiser
  • Metal Imports Pricing Professional
  • Concrete Machinery Installation Expert

You get the idea: Find a super specific phrase to align with your personal brand.

Next, make sure the topic appears prominently in all of your profiles, starting with LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. If people search for the phrase in Google, you can bet they’re searching for it in social networks.

Finally, optimize the bio on your own website. Use the phrase in the title, header, and several times in the body text. If you find linking opportunities through PR or guest blogging, link to the page using the keyphrase as the link whenever possible (here are some additional tips on SEO best practices).

Pro Tip! Be sure to set up Google Authorship by linking from the page to your Google+ bio and vice versa. This is how to get your picture to appear in search results.

If you chose a phrase that wasn’t too competitive, you might find yourself ranking within the week! Now you can start reaping the benefits:

  • PR Benefits: Research shows 95 percent of journalists use search engines to find sources. Convincing Google you’re relevant enough to rank as an expert will help them find you and give you credibility.
  • New Business Benefits: When people look for a pro to help them with something specific, they often search for an expert.
  • Job Seeking Benefits: Staffing firms and hiring managers are all over LinkedIn, but they also search the wider web for specialists.
  • Off-line/Networking Benefits: Try this next time you meet someone at an event: “I do marketing for apparel and footwear companies. I help businesses promote athletic shoes and socks. It’s funny, but if you search Google for ‘athletic footwear promotions expert’ you’ll see I actually rank at the top!”

Example #1: Personal Branding and SEO

A post I wrote actually ranks first in Google for “content marketing expert.” This was a guest post for MarketingProfs. Actually, if you read it, you’ll see I don’t even claim to be an expert, but seeing my face there next to the top spot is kind of fun.

Example #2: SEO Experiment with Google Images

This one is silly, but interesting. One day, a good looking guy named Joel decided he wanted his picture to appear in Google image searches for “best looking man in the world.” So he created a website with the keyphrase as the domain, title, headers, image file name, alt tags, and body text.

It worked. Search Google images for “best looking man in the world,” and there’s Joel, right next to the underwear models.


It’s not easy to wear red socks everyday. Ever seen me in shorts? Not pretty. Personal branding requires the same kind of commitment. Pick your topic and stick with it. Over time, you’ll build up your credibility with people and search engines. Stick with it. Use these branding tips and eventually, you’ll be at the top of search results and at the top of people’s minds…

Andy Crestodina is the strategic director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing You can find Andy on and Twitter.

  • Gini Dietrich

    I love the red socks analogy of this post! Nice job to Andy Crestodina!

  • Andy Crestodina

    Glad you like them. 20 years of red socks every day. Do you have any red socks? Maybe I’ll get you a pair…

  • Andy, I don’t know whether I’m actually the first to comment, or if it’s just a livefyre anomaly, but if I’m first, it’s an honor. 🙂
    I love how you not only give the conceptual context of personal branding with the great story about the red socks (hey, isn’t that a Boston thing?), and then the practical advice is great too. Thanks for sharing his.

    • crestodina

      @barrettrossie It’s not a Boston thing, although a lot of people ask! I hope that readers try that little SEO trick. It’s often not difficult to rank for a phrase that includes “expert” or “professional” If you want to try this out together, just let me know. It might take just a few minutes to tweak a bio page and align it with a phrase.
      Yes, either LiveFyre is asleep or the community is out to lunch. Either way, glad to connect with you here, as always!

  • Deb Carlson Driscoll

    Great post Andy! Jack has taken after you and has made red pants the ONLY pants he will wear. Personal branding at the age of 3. Boo-ya! 🙂

  • cstechjoel

    Very cool to be mentioned here! The thing is, my branding experience as the best looking man was completely accidental. It wasn’t even a major consideration – but the dividends it has paid are real, and huge. We’ve landed projects because of that result. I’ve been able to make new people I meet remember me thanks to that little tidbit.

    • crestodina

      @cstechjoel Accidental? It’s a stroke of genius. Amazed, but not surprised, that it turned into business. Have you ever written the story? I’d like to read that post.
      I still have a Twitter list of “the best looking man in the world” …and you’re the only one on it.

  • Gotta say, @crestodina , I always enjoy reading your posts and walk away with a tidbit I hadn’t earlier possessed. Red socks? Hmmn…

  • belllindsay

    I always enjoy your posts @Andy Crestodina and this one is a beauty. I’m a huge cheerleader for personal branding (though some poo-poo the idea) – heck, it worked for me!! That said, I still cringe at the image of red socks with shorts. 😉

    • crestodina

      @belllindsay  Yeah, it’s rough. But what should I do? Violate my personal brand values? Never wear shorts? 
      Speaking of color and clothes, you may know that Joe Pulizzi wears the same color at every event. It’s his trademark. So I’m not the only one!

      • belllindsay

        @crestodina That’s a great idea! I changed my FB profile picture the other day (a much younger me – NO bangs or glasses) and one person said they had no clue it was me. Like, for days. LOL Trademarks work! 😀

    • crestodina

      @belllindsay  Thanks, Lindsay. Maybe we should have called this post “SpinSocks” 🙂

  • Love the red socks. I think personal branding is important and you have some great tips here that I will definitely be using them. Time to go update all of my profiles…

  • JonathanBranca

    If I see you wearing pink shirts from here on out, I’ll know why.  Good stuff Andy!

  • Andy! You rock for the socks and for this fabulous post. Your tips are spot on and I just learned a couple new things that I can implement for my brand. Well done, sir!

    • crestodina

      @kateupdates Great! Glad to hear it, Kate. If you search optimize your bio for a “expert”-related phrase and it’s still not ranking, let me know and I’ll take a look at it. 🙂

  • Pingback: The Lies and Truths of Google Analytics | Spin Sucks()

  • shenoiekaant

    These are some really fabulous branding tips for business. I hope these tips will help us out in growing our business faster. Thanks for sharing!