Personal SEO Guide to Optimize your Own Personal Brand
Way too often, digital marketing enthusiasts (including me) stress solely on SEO and marketing for businesses, business websites, e-stores, and the lot. SEO is equally important for professionals such as doctors, lawyers, consultants, bloggers, and even hobbyists looking to grow their fame. Let’s face it; personal branding is important, and hence, personal SEO is important too, especially for professionals.
Why, you ask?
Here are some of the reasons –
- Biggest companies conduct background searches on candidates using Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. Branding makes you much better than thousands of competitors.
- SEO for professionals helps build online reputation.
- Your personal branding helps your occupation in a massive way.
- Your professional network and recognition expand like never before.
This is just the beginning, trust me. I will tell you everything you need to do to start building your online brand via this actionable personal SEO guide.
Step 1 – Choose Your Personal Brand Name
The first step for personal SEO is to decide on a brand name for yourself. For most, their full name is the dearest brand name they can ask for, but often it can pose SEO challenges.
For instance, a lawyer names Mike Smith will find it tough to feature on Google’s first page, because-
- There’s already too much competition. See how many results pop up for this Google search.
- Let’s face it, it’s not memorable.
Be creative, be thoughtful, and think like the audience when you decide your personal brand name.
A couple of examples:
- Deb Micek, marketing and media consultant, for instance, has a last name that’s hard to pronounce or spell, so she’s branded herself as CoachDeb, a name that’s memorable, relevant, and catchy.
- Neil Patel, SEO master, uses his full name as his personal brand, because it’s catchy, and easy to remember.
So, choose a crisp, catchy, unique, and meaningful personal brand name for yourself, based on your name and your interests.
You can use this beautiful name checker tool called – namechk.com. This free and easy tool searches for your desired domain name and vanity url availability into 100+ popular social networking sites with a single click.
Step 2 – Get Your Brand URLs or Vanity URL
The first question on your lips – what is a brand URL? Well, I call any URL that is named after your personal brand, and is hosted on a reputed website, a branded URL (something like www.facebook.com/yourbrandname). Some call it a vanity URL!
The next question on your lips – From where do I get my brand URLs?
Answer – There are too many places – from social media platforms, publishing platforms, social sharing websites, and more. Let’s cover them one by one.
A – Social Media:
The big 3 for personal branding on social media are – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If you’re associated with designing, Instagram ought to be the point of focus for you.
What makes social media personal brand URLs so important? Well, that’s because these social media profiles enjoy high ranking from Google, and any URLs on these platforms automatically feature highly on SERPs. So, you get direct benefit out of the high ranking of these websites with your vanity URL on them.
B – Social Sharing:
These are platforms where members share all kind of content, right from images to videos, from web links to documents. Just like social media platforms, these websites also rank highly, so any profile URLs you can create here will help your personal brand’s SEO. StumbleUpon, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, and Scribd are the must-haves.
C – Publishing Platforms:
These are websites where you can publish your latest posts, and all kinds of content. Now, you already post that content on your main website (I am assuming you already have one). So, why set up another web destination for publishing the same content?
Well, these are just meant to be there for your personal branding. Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress are my top 3 picks. The secret – just prepare introductory and promotion content and put on these platforms, linking your main personal blog’s post URLs to them. More important is to have a URL on these publishing platforms. Your primary blog continues to be your primary content portal.
Have a look at how my Google search for ‘Neil Patel’ gave links to all his web destinations!
Step 3 – Blog Your Way to Success
I’ll tell you a 3-faced strategy that I have recommended to some of my clients, and have seen them benefit from it.
- Posting on own blog: On your own blog, post your social media profile links.
- Guest Posting: When you guest blog, ensure the blog links your name to your Twitter, Facebook, and other profiles. If you regularly contribute to some blogs, look for opportunity to have all your posts organized under an author page, where you can put all your vanity URLs.
- Commenting on other blogs: When you comment on other blogs, you don’t get any link value as such. However, when someone does a Google search for your brand name, the said comments could show up in the search. So, leave valuable comments on the best blogs in your areas of interest.
Step 4 – Personal SEO guide to using Google plus – Tips and Tricks
Optimize your Google+ profile like your most valuable asset for professional SEO. Any Google search done for your brand name is likely to show your Google+ profile snippet, with the title, profile image, and meta description.
Ideally, add these 4 details in your meta description: a short tagline, your occupation, employment, and a quick introduction. If your profession has local relevance, add your location too. Focus on the most searched keywords related to your profession and add them in the meta description.
To edit the meta data:
- Login to Google Plus Account
- Click on Manage This Page button.
- Click on Edit Page (pencil icon) on the section where you see your brand page name.
- On the next page, click on Edit in the Story section.
- Make the change, and click on Save.
How to Get a Custom Google+ URL?
- Click on About on your Google+ page.
- Go the Links box, click on the existing URL you see.
- Google then asks you is you wish to change it to a new URL.
There’s a lot more you can do to use Google+ for your personal branding.
Step 5 – Set LinkedIn up for SEO advantage for your personal brand
LinkedIn is a massive platform to benefit from SEO for professionals. Even if you already have your LinkedIn profile complete 80% or more, make sure you take care of these SEO focused optimizations.
- Complete the Location, Company, and Position details, because these details appear in Google snippets.
- Edit your profile URL by clicking Edit next to your profile link, and specifying a URL word as per your brand name.
- Make sure your entire profile’s visibility is set to Public, so that it appears on Google searches.
- You can embed your WordPress blog, Slideshare posts, etc. into your LinkedIn profile.
- Add all your other social media profiles into your LinkedIn account.
- Go to Websites area in your LinkedIn profile and add your Google+, personal website, and blog links there.
I recommend you give a shot to some of the LinkedIn SEO tips and hacks covered in this guide here.
Step 6 – Make your website’s About Me page the best damn pitch about yourself
Your own website’s ‘About Me’ (or its equivalent) page is the most controllable property in your hands, from an SEO standpoint. Ensure you get everything right for this page. Here are some tips:
- Keep your complete profile on a separate page (don’t club together information such as Contact Us, Testimonials, and About Me)
- Add your brand name in the URL of the page, if not already done.
- Keep your name in the page title, preferably in the beginning.
- All your other social profiles should link back to this page.
- Add links to your active social profiles on this page, and make them all nofollow and target=“_blank”.
- Add your Google+ profile using “rel=me” tag. (there’s confusion on whether this is still valid, but I suggest you do it)
- Keep special focus on this page to understand how it’s performing, identify websites referring traffic to it, and increase your efforts on strengthening factors that appear more important (such as, any specific social profile referring traffic back to this page, high performing keywords, etc).
I suggest you give a quick read to Melyssa Griffin’s guide to writing a killer About Me page.
Step 7 – Other Important Social Profiles/Pages to Take Care Of
Here are some quick tips to help you set up profile pages on high ranking social media and publishing websites.
- Tumblr gives you a page on the www.yoursite.tumblr.com sub-domain, so hurry up, and claim your brand page.
- Tumblr bio page is all HTML, so you can add all the information and content you want, about yourself.
- Quora profile pages rank well, so create on for your personal brand as soon as you can. Add a professional looking profile picture, follow some people from your areas of interest, follow some topics of interest, to keep things moving.
- Create a short YouTube video (I’d recommend less than 2 minutes long) talking about your blog, your experience, your ideas, and your hobbies. Use your name in the video’s title and description.
- Read on how you can use Live Video to market your personal brand.
Step 8 – Be on Wikipedia
Wikipedia pages rank very high on Google SERPs. Let me tell you, Wikipedia discourages you to create an autobiography. Plus, the chances that your self-written page about yourself will stay live (read to know more about how Wikipedia works). However, if you’re a doctor or a lawyer, or any professional who’s achieved notably above average success, it’s worth a shot. If your work has been covered and talked about in independent and unbiased newspapers, journals, magazines, it’s definitely worth a try. If possible, get someone else to write and submit this page, and get all independent news source links included as references.
Step 9 – Focus on Multiple Content Types
The ideal scenario will be when a search for your name shows all 10 results on Google’s first page relevant to your brand. This happens when you do SEO for different kinds of content related to your brand. Look to tag professional photos with your name, and some videos (introductions, webinars, interviews) on the top video sharing platforms, and keep at least 2 social media profiles (Facebook and Twitter) active.
Step 10 – More Things to Do
I’ve covered a lot of things for you to do. However, once you’re done and in control of all these, here are some more options.
- Find out the top 10 communities and posts for your profession, and create profiles on them, followed by a few posts and comments on trending posts.
- Create a bio page on all forums and websites you put your content, ideas, and posts on.
- Invite testimonials on your website from clients you’ve worked with.
- Optimize your profile image (here’s a guide to social media image sizes)
- For all the social profiles and networks where you have created your personal brand page, but are not looking to post any content, post at least one message that says you’re not active on the network, and can be reached for conversations via your core website’s About Me page, or a Contact Me form.
I hope you enjoyed reading this personal SEO guide, and are motivated all the more to create a brand for yourself. Remember, SEO for professionals is about creating value adding and non-promotional content, as much as it is about smartly showcasing your achievements and create positive impressions on the minds of viewers.
Try these tips out, post your questions, and share your experiences with me.