I wrote the following post for Media Asia.
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 brand. What they see on that results page, be it positive or negative, will have a lasting impact.
In the same vein, what is displayed when someone types your name into a search engine should be compared with the front page of your CV. If nothing comes up, what does that say about you? Or even worse, if the only things that come up are photos of your drunken exploits from five years ago, then your search engine footprint needs some serious attention.
Below I have outlined seven quick tips to help improve your search persona and ensure your search engine CV presents the right image.
1. Blog. Having a good blog habit is one of the simplest ways to ensure you control your personal online brand, but simply setting up a free account on WordPress.com 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.
2. Tweet. A step down in effort from blogging is Twitter. The major search engines rank Twitter high in their results and are now including Tweets as part of their real-time 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 for how people are most likely to search for you, with your name. If available, purchase the URL for your name. Also, ensure your Twitter handle is your name and customise your Facebook and LinkedIn URLs to include your name. 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 also use them in your online profiles or bios to help align you with your chosen industry.
5. Be everywhere. When it comes to optimising for search engines, 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 peoples’ name. As such, make sure you have a presence in the social networks that are most important in your market and to your industry. Also make sure you have personalised your URL. Learn how to do it for Facebook here and LinkedIn here.
6. Tag your images. Ensure that images you want to be found of you, perhaps the one of you accepting an award at the Cannes PR Lions ceremony, are tagged with your name and industry and uploaded on a photo sharing site like Flickr, so search engines can easily index your picture.
7. 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. Also think very carefully before you post content to the web. Simply think, “Am I happy with this piece of content representing me to potential employers or clients?” and if you aren’t comfortable, don’t post it.
These are but a small sample of tips for improving your personal search rankings. If you have any others, why not add them in the comment box?
This post of a series of posts I am making on SEO tips to improve your personal search brands. Other posts you can view are:
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