When most people think of SEO for their personal brand, the first thought that comes to mind is how can they “rank” their website higher. Using this as the objective misses out on the ultimate goal of SEO which is to be more visible on search engines. If you are looking to generate more eyeballs on search it shouldn’t really matter whether that is your own website or another website that promotes you all the same.
This is especially prevalent when it comes to search for specific individuals on search engines where the dominant sites are likely going to be social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or even YouTube. Many people are convinced that their own websites should be the first ranking result for their own name, but in most cases this could be a near impossible task. This gets even harder when someone shares a common name with many other people around the world as now they need to not only outrank the social networks for themselves, but also every profile for people that share the same name.
Go with the flow
Instead of fighting an uphill battle to push down sites that aren’t going to go away, it is a much better effort to make sure the right social media and alternative pages show up.
Here are the best practices to do this.
First and foremost, make sure you have a profile on every single popular social media network. You might have a cutesy handle on platforms like Twitter and YouTube but ensure that they also have your real name that people might search. This means that you should use the name that people use when referring to you and not your legal or formal names when you go by a shortened version or nickname.
Once you have claimed these profiles, fill out these pages with all the best information about you that you are going to want people to see. If you are using these pages for a professional purpose (ie not making friends) then your most important professional accomplishments should be in a prominent position in the profile. Even if there is limited space to do this, you can append your name in the title with phrases like “design wizard” or “product manager” or “5x founder”.
You also want to add a bit of content to each of these pages, so when someone finds them they aren’t simply empty. You don’t need to have a YouTube page with thousands of videos, but you should have at least a couple. The same goes with Instagram. You should have a few updates that you have shared even if it’s not going to be a place you regularly update.
Keep in mind that because you are using these profiles for professional purposes you shouldn’t put anything on these pages that may harm or even mildly impact the image you want to show of yourself. Your birthday party and vacation videos and images do not belong on these pages. If you are very concerned about your privacy, you can make alternative profiles that are visible to only select people.
Now that you have those profiles it’s time to make them start working for you. Add links to these profiles from your other profiles. Your LinkedIn should link to your YouTube and Facebook pages, and YouTube should link to your LinkedIn and Instagram pages.
The goal of all of this linking is to tie together your online presence so search engines and searchers can find your profiles as one big cluster.
After you have linked these profiles to each other, you are going to want to make sure they are also linked on every presence you have. If you have a personal site, drop the links to your profiles in the footer. Again this helps search engines tie you together as a single individual when people search for you.
Finally, depending on your name it might be an impossible task to expect to be the only visible individual ranking on your name especially if you have a common name, but a win would be to have all your profiles show up if a searcher modified the query with the name of your company, city or your title.
One last piece thing to keep in mind is that no one ever wants to be a part of a scandal or negative search, but it could happen even to the best of people. Building out your online presence with top social media profiles goes a long way towards preventing a reputation issue should anything ever cause negative searches for your name. As long as you aren’t making the headlines on the New York Times, these profiles will likely hold back any negative results for your name.