Have you Googled yourself lately? Has it been a while? Give it a try. We’ll wait here…
…How was it? Surprised? Like what you see?
You just did something people do all the time.
In fact, searching for people is so common that names often appear in search results.
Even if you’re not Gini Dietrich (don’t worry, I’m not Gini either) people definitely are searching for your name on a regular basis.
I promise you.
Service providers and salespeople, leaders and lawyers, we all get Googled a lot.
If your business is based on who you are, personal SEO is a big part of your brand as a person.
Do you have a common name?
That won’t stop people from searching for you.
They’re searching for your name plus your business name.
Or your name plus your city.
Two Goals in Personal SEO Reputation Management
Regardless of what you saw for your own Google search results, good or bad, it’s time for some personal reputation management.
We all have two reasons to take control over these search results: to polish and protect.
- Look good! Improve the ranking for positive search results and listings that you can control.
- Not look bad! To push down the ranking of any negative or neutral search results.
If you’re a communication pro, this approach may be a helpful way to clean up personal branding a mess for a client.
Taking Control over Search Results for a Name
Search results for personal names are usually a mix of social media accounts, blog author pages, and biographical pages on company websites.
The team bio page on a company website is often the ideal page to rank first in search results. It’s our best personal SEO tool because we (should) have complete control over this page. So we’ll start there.
Your Bio Page on Your Own Website
Google is forever trying to show the searcher the best page on the internet for the keyphrase. When that phrase is your name, your bio page on your own website is your best chance to make the best page on the internet.
You control it. You’re not trapped with the template of a social network. You’re not “building on rented land.”
So our first step is to make your team bio page on your own website shine. It should be detailed, complete, and easy to scan. Make it your masterpiece.
Here’s how to optimize your own profile page for your name:
- Use your name as the URL
- Use your name in the beginning of the <title> tag
- Every profile on every social network should link to this page.
- Link only to social media networks where you are currently active
- Use a current headshot.
ProTip! No headshots older than three years. Because your haircut has changed.
Now, on to the social networks. Social profiles rank high because they are credible in Google and everyone’s profile page has a unique, rankable URL.
If you’re trying to push something negative off of page one of Google, you can create profile pages on lots of social networks, even if you’re not active there. Just by creating profiles on these networks, you can manage page one in Google for your name.
Social network profiles are your best chance to damage control for a personal SEO reputation problem. Otherwise, there’s no need to get a Pinterest account unless you really use Pinterest. Make sense?
LinkedIn profiles often rank high. This profile should be as complete as possible. Give it a great headline and summary.
Here are the basic ways to help your profile rank for your name:
- Make the headline descriptive
- Make sure the summary has at least 250 words
- Get to 500+ connections (these are table stakes, people!)
- Make sure Location, Position, and Company are all up-to-date
- Reorder the skills in your endorsement section so the top, most visible skills are relevant (It’s good that you know Microsoft Office, but that isn’t your most important skill)
- Make sure you have at least a few recommendations. If you just have one or two, time to reach out to some friendly professionals and ask politely for a quick rec.
- Post a few articles within the LinkedIn platform. These can be articles that you originally posted elsewhere.
- Personalize the URL of your public profile link. Pick a custom URL that includes your name.
- Make your entire profile is visible to the public.
Facebook profiles often rank high. Although this profile may not be relevant to your job, make your primary profile picture isn’t unprofessional. Depending on your privacy settings, a lot of people may see it. Also, claim your vanity URL.
These profiles rank very high, as long as you use your real name. In the Twitter bio, link to your team bio on your company website to give that page a boost.
Even if you never use Twitter, complete the profile, then add one tweet to tell people where to find you “I’m not an active on Twitter, but feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn [add link]” It’s like a call forwarding tweet.
Thumbnails of YouTube videos sometimes rank for people’s name, so a YouTube video, optimized for your name is a great way to control your personal reputation.
Can create a video introducing yourself to the world or upload a short interview. Use your name in the video title and description.
Yes, it’s still a relevant social network. And Google+ profile pages sometimes rank in Google Search. That’s not surprising. In the links section, link directly to the team bio page on your company website.
Again, you don’t need to be at all active in Google+ to create a profile. If you don’t plan to come back often, keep the information general so it’s less likely to go out of date fast.
Quora profile pages don’t have a lot of info, but they often rank well. After you add your picture and short bio, follow a few people and a few topics. These topics will be visible, telling visitors what you’re interested in.
Here’s a network that lets you add a LOT to your profile page. First, set the Account Type. Now look at all that info you can add!
Use your name, enter a short, relevant bio, add a link and set your location. You can also claim a URL and even add featured videos.
Profiles include all the basic information, such as a profile picture, location, bio and link. Create a profile and upload a few pictures.
Here’s another photo site profile that ranks. You can link from here to your company profile page and other social networks. Again, use a URL that includes your name, such as pinterest.com/YourName
This is just just a simple page that links to your other profiles, but they sometimes rank, so you may want to grab it. Upload a nice background photo and setup the links. If possible, use a URL that includes your name, such as about.me/yourname.
ProTip! Just like everything else in search results, the likelihood of a social profile page ranking depends on how many other pages are linking to it.
Fortunately, most social networks let you add link to other social networks in the profile. So linking between profiles is a fast way to optimize them all at once.
Caution: As you create new social profiles, remember you’ll need to keep them updated. If you’re making profiles on sites where you’re not likely to be active, avoid language such as “5 years of experience” or “50 successful projects.” If you keep the descriptions more general, the profile won’t go out of date very quickly.
Now that we’re done creating and polishing our social network profiles, let’s move on to the final places to manage personal SEO: blogs and media websites.
Interviews on other websites
A simple mention of a person’s name on a high domain authority website (major blog, media website) can launch that page to the top of search results for that name. An interview is even better. A page with a dedicated interview normally has the name of the interviewee in the header and title tag. That’s great for SEO.
Use your networking, outreach and communications skills to land an interview and it might quickly rank depending on how common your name is. An interview on a little blog might quickly rank for the name “Skippy Grumblekins.” (Skippy, if you have a question, let us know in the comments)
Author Bio Pages on Other Blogs
Guest blogging is a great way to grow a personal brand. Write for an authoritative blog and you may get a bio page immediately. That bio pages might quickly rank at the top of page one in searches for your name. This is yet another of the many benefits of guest blogging and collaboration.
One post on a site like Entrepreneur.com may lead to a profile that ranks high for years. It takes work and patience, but it’s a powerful way to control your personal SEO.
Personal Search Results …Polished!
The entire process of buffing your personal brand and search results could take less than an day of effort and you should see the results within a week.
Make Google sparkle for your name.
If your personal brand doesn’t sparkle offline, no amount of SEO will help, but for anyone who wants to shine it up, an hour of waxing and polishing is absolutely worth it.