No doubt you’ve spent time – and possibly money as well – making use of SEO to boost your business’ visibility and reputation. But have you put the same effort into your personal SEO?
The chances are good that your answer is no, because a lot of business owners, and even lone entrepreneurs, just don’t. They get so lost in promoting their businesses they forget that consumers, no matter what niche a company operates in, like to see who is behind a business and what their reputation is. And increasingly Google does too.
The Power of Personal Branding
See this guy?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind?
That it’s Cristiano Ronaldo? Ronaldo? CR7? One of the world’s best living footballers? It’s probably not that, in 2019, he plays for Juventus. Because Cristiano Ronaldo is bigger than any team, he’s CR7.
Ronaldo has been branding himself since he was a teenager at Manchester United. And while all the great clubs he’s played for have enhanced his reputation, they’ve never overshadowed him.
The same is true in Hollywood. Some actors are defined by the work they are best known for.
Daniel Radcliffe will always be Harry Potter in the minds of most people, even though it’s over a decade since he last played him.
The Rock, on the other hand, has been in dozens of great – and not so great – movies but none define him because the brand Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is bigger. But his star power does get people excited about even the worst movies.
Personal branding is also a factor in business. Few people who follow Guy Kawasaki in 2019 – and on Twitter alone that’s 1.4 million people – know too much about where he’s actually worked but they do know that he’s a marketing and business genius whose wisdom is always worth taking on board.
And Kawasaki has made a career of using the power of his personal brand to elevate businesses. Take Canva.
Canva is an online graphics creation software now used by millions. But in 2012 it was just an idea a very young Australian college student had. And you probably don’t know her name, because if you know anything about the people behind Canva you think of its brand evangelist, Guy Kawasaki first (her name’s Melanie Perkins and she’s amazing, just not as well known)
When Kawasaki came on board in 2014 is when Canva really began to take off. And he’s done the same for Mercedes, Pandora Radio, Tripwire and more. Even for Apple back when the Mac was first unleashed on the world in the mid-eighties.
What does this all mean for you? That you too should focus as much on your personal brand as your business’. If you build a great reputation for yourself it will only enhance your company’s. And if you move on from where you are right now, any new venture you begin will have a head start just because it involves you.
Personal Branding and Personal SEO
OK, so you’re are not a multi-millionaire footballer with several Ballon D’ors to your name and you are not a wealthy SEO (yet.) So how do you build a great personal brand? A lot of it has to do with personal SEO.
Personal SEO is just what it sounds like. The search engine optimization of your name. What people see when they Google you.
When most people Google themselves, they usually find that they fall into one of three categories:
- They have no web presence and no content. Maybe their Facebook profile comes up, but that’s about it.
- They have a web presence but it’s not a good one, as negative information comes up first.
- They have a web presence but the things that they would like people to see about them first don’t come up first.
The good news is that personal SEO can help in all three scenarios.
No Web Presence, No Content
Obviously you need to create content that links to your name. This can be as simple as taking those company blog posts that are currently attributed to ‘admin’ and adding your own name. But it should not stop there.
You need to add content elsewhere too. LinkedIn. YouTube. Medium. Quora. Anywhere where you can share what you know to enhance your reputation. You need to do so consistently and often. And make sure that what you share is SEO optimized, not just for what the content is about but for your name as well.
A Negative Web Presence
This is trickier, and where you will benefit from help from a professional personal branding SEO expert. You need to move that negative content, whatever it is, off the first page of Google results and replace it with positive content that better reflects who you are.
Here’s a hypothetical example.
Fred Frankly is a budding entrepreneur who’s building a promising company. He’s a nice guy, with nice friends and a nice family and some stellar business ideas. He’s very good at what he does and, all-in-all, a pretty good bloke.
However, when you Google his name, the first thing that comes up is bad. He got arrested for drunk driving years ago and it made the papers (and a splash on social media). While he may have moved on and become a much better person as a result, Google is still serving up the bad tea rather than the good and anyone Googling him right now will not be impressed.
The key here will be to add so much good content that the bad stuff disappears onto page two of Google at the very least. And as page two of Google is a place very few people ever go, the impact of that old negative information will be seriously lessened.
You Want to Move Your Best Stuff Up
You might already have a personal website, a LinkedIn profile, or other content you want people to find, but they just aren’t showing up very high in search results. Personal branding SEO can be extremely effective in this scenario. You just need to know what to do to push that great content up the SERPs, or work with a personal branding SEO expert who does.
There’s a lot that Personal Branding SEO has in common with standard SEO that you might implement for a business, but there are a number of other ‘complications’ in personal branding SEO that need to be addressed in order for it to be really effective.
For example, you probably aren’t the only person in the world with your name. In order not to be confused with – or overshadowed by – those other people – the content you are found for needs to be better optimized and distributed better than theirs. Unless your name is Cristiano Ronaldo, in which case even great personal branding may not help you as even the ‘original’ Ronaldo (remember him?) is completely overshadowed online by CR7.
Personal branding SEO also often involves considerably more research than standard SEO, especially if you are dealing with negative SEO. You may have to go through all kinds of social media mentions, other people’s content and more to figure out why your name is being sullied in search. Reputation management software can help there, but only really as a tool to help your SEO efforts.
Personal Branding SEO or Business Branding SEO?
This is not a question anyone with a business should ask. Because you need both. Your business needs a great reputation but so do the people behind it. The gains made in one area of SEO should compliment the other.
If it’s your individual brand that really matters to you then that is where you should focus. Build a great personal brand and then whatever ventures you undertake will be enhanced by it.
Getting Started with Personal Branding SEO
The search results that Google and other search engines will return for a person are usually a mixed bag; various social media accounts, bio pages on company websites, author profiles on blogs and any news they happen to have appeared in (good and band.)
Given this, where should you even get started if you want to work on your personal SEO? Here are some suggestions.
The Bio on Your Website
This is a great place to start a personal SEO campaign because (in theory at least) you have almost full control over what’s there. So it should be polished, easy to read and complete. That means ensuring all the following:
- The page URL has your name in it.
- Links to your active personal professional social media accounts should displayed prominently
- The headshot you use is current
- Your name is written exactly as you want to be found online.
- Your name appears an appropriate number of times as a keyword in the text (without going overboard)
Next up, social networks. These profiles rank well as the sites are credible to Google and most of the big social sites offer users a unique URL that it’s possible to optimize for personal branding SEO.
Pearl Lemon Pro Tip: If you are trying to get something negative off page one creating profile pages on lots of social networks is a good way to do that, even if you never really use any of them.
Getting more specific, Here are some personal SEO tips for each major social network likely to rank:
A good LinkedIn profile will often rank well. Yours should be as complete as possible and it should have an SEO optimized, but striking, headline and summary.
Here some good ways to get your profile ranking for your name.
- Claim your custom URL and make sure it includes your name.
Have at least 500 connections
Use a keyword rich headline
Ensure that your location and employment details are up to date
Keep your strongest and most relevant skills visible.
Get some recommendations. No, many people don’t give them much weight because they are often all about quid pro quo but they are nice to have, especially if they are from prominent people in your niche.
Post articles on LinkedIn.
They may not always be the best of friends, but Google does usually rank Facebook profiles high. This is where things can get tricky. Facebook is often a fun place to share jokes and silly stuff with friends and family. Which is fine, but keep those posts private.
What you should keep public is a professional headshot as a profile picture and get a custom URL that matches your name.
Twitter was almost dead in the water a few years ago, but then a certain tweet loving POTUS came along and gave it new life. At the same time Google began indexing tweets again, so, if you are active on Twitter your profile and your latest tweets will usually show up on page one.
Even if you rarely use it – Twitter isn’t for everyone – create a profile with your professional looking picture and a keyword optimized bio. Then pin a tweet that says something like “I’m not an active on Twitter, but connect with me on LinkedIn [add link]” or whatever social platform you are most active on
Thumbnails of YouTube videos sometimes rank for people’s name, so a YouTube video, optimized for your name is potentially great for personal branding SEO.
Even if video is not your thing create a short one that just introduces you to the world. Use your name in both the title and the description and sneak a few business related keywords in as well.
Quora does not give you much space to create a detailed profile but they often rank well, especially if you are active on the platform. Add a short bio, a good picture, follow some topics and some people. These topics will be visible in a search result so people can get a quick overview of where you major interests lie.
Medium is fast becoming a go to destination for both professionals looking for interesting content to read and SEO minded souls looking for a quick SEO win. The profile is as limited as Quora’s, but if you create one and then share some of your best blog posts, then it creates useful no follow links to your site as well as giving your name a recognition boost.
Pearl Lemon Pro Tip: Only create as many social media profiles as you can keep updated. If you are creating profiles for personal SEO that you won’t use often keep the copy as evergreen as possible, avoiding statements like ‘3 years of experience’ as those age fast.
Head Out Onto the Internet To Expand Your Personal SEO Reach
Once your social media profiles are nicely polished it’s time to head out onto the Internet ‘proper’ and try to find even more places to boost your personal SEO.
This can include guest blog posts or articles. You’ll be surprised at how many websites, good ones, will accept a good guest article. You can also sign up for updates from HARO – Help a Reporter Out – and pitch to journalists as things come up that you can offer insight into. You can get onto podcasts, get yourself featured with YouTubers, there are lots of opportunities out there, you just have to put in the work to find them.
Interested in boosting your personal SEO? Contact the Pearl Lemon SEO team, we’ll be happy to help.