At first glance, it might seem as though SEO and personal branding have nothing in common. But the two actually have a strong connection in today’s digital world. When you’re building brand recognition, your audience is going to Google you or the name of your brand. What comes up in the search results has a heavy impact on your brand image—luckily, you have control over that all-important digital first impression if you pay attention to SEO.
Vanity Search: Power of Personal Branding
If you’ve ever poked fun at the idea of conducting a Google search for your own name, it’s time to stop laughing and start doing. The vanity search is a critical first step in using SEO to build your personal brand. Why? You need to know what’s out there about you or your business online. These days, it’s called online brand reputation management.
Analyze Your Results
What’s showing up under your brand name? Evaluate what you’re seeing in terms of:
- Articles you’ve authored or been quoted in
- Social media profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn
- Your primary website
- Review sites, such as Yelp and Yahoo! Local
Now, try some searches including your brand name and relevant keywords, such as “Joe Smith management consultant” or “Jane Doe Six Sigma expert.” This gives you a clear picture of how prevalent your brand is online when associated with desirable terms.
Devise a Plan for Making an Impact
The great thing about the digital world of brand building is that you can exert quite a bit of control over how you appear online, depending on how savvy you are about SEO. If you don’t like what your vanity search produces, it’s time to devise a game plan. Identify where you can make the biggest impact and start there. There are many SEO tactics you can use to impact the results, such as:
Contribute guest articles to relevant blogs and websites. Then, list those sites in your “Contributor to” section in your Google+ profile. If the publisher also inserts Google Authorship code into the post, your photo will appear next to the article in a Web search—and will include a link to your Google+ profile.
Use your social networks. Google+ isn’t the only social network that’s increasingly relevant to SEO. LinkedIn profiles commonly show up on the first page of a search for a brand or individual consultant search, and tweets and Facebook posts are now making a mark, too.
Ramp up your local listings. Seventy percent of searches now include a local keyword, so it’s not shocking that local search marketing is gaining in popularity. Set up profiles for your brand on local business listings sites, including a Facebook page, Google+ business page, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, Yellow Pages sites and more.
Use quality content on your own blog and website. The quality of your content will have a major impact on where your primary website shows up in the search results. And since your own website is where you have the most control and the most information about your brand, you want it to show up on the first page. Pack it with quality, relevant content for better search positioning.
Don’t forget on-page SEO. Use on-page SEO and link between relevant pages on your website, use a Meta description and incorporate keywords in logical places, such as image tags and page headings. Get help from an SEO consultant if this is beyond what you're able to do.
Today’s consumers are more likely to turn to the Web before turning to the Yellow Pages. If not for convenience, the idea that they have access to other consumer opinions and more robust information about the company’s brand reputation is a major incentive. If you don't use SEO for personal branding, you could be missing a huge portion of your audience.
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Angela Stringfellow is a freelance writer, social media strategist and complete content marketing junkie obsessed with all things Web, written word and marketing.
Photos: iStockphoto, Getty Images