Doing extensive SEO work is a vital business pillar for companies in order to get visitors to their site and improve conversions. However, not only company websites can benefit from SEO but also you as a person. A lot of people have not yet considered the importance of their online presence.
Most recruiters try to find out more information about applicants and it gets easier every day to find information about a person on the web. It can be a strong advantage if they find positive content about you, which could put you above other applicants. On the other hand, search results that show negative things about you could mean that you are out of the game.
The worst case, in my opinion, is when you don’t show up in Google at all. This would suggest that you are not really active online and leaves room for doubt. Maybe you don’t want to be found because you have something to hide… To be honest, it simply looks awesome if you “own” the first Google page.
It is fairly easy to improve your personal online reputation with a little SEO work. Depending on how much competition your name has, you can even dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your name.
A few weeks before I wrote this article I did some SEO for my Name and I was able to see good results until today.
Let’s have a look at the search results for my name before SEO.
You can see that there are 6 results that lead to a page about me and two pictures in the image result excerpt.
Now, here is a screenshot which is a couple of days old. The SERPs are always changing, so by the time you are reading this, it might already look differently.
Now there are 8 results of me and 3 images. So i was able to improve the first search result page quite significantly. What you cannot see is that there are now more results on the following pages, as well. I also want to add that my name is quite competitive and some other people might have an easy time taking over the SERPs.
Please don’t be surprised if you see less results at the beginning. I have done some minor SEO on my name before.
Take these steps to dominate the search result pages
- Create online profiles and optimize them for SEO
- Get your own personal website
- Start blogging
- Increase your click-trough rate by setting up the Google Authorship Markup
1. Create online profiles and optimize them for SEO
It might be naive to say that a lot helps a lot, but in this case it is true. By having additional profiles online you also provide Google with more websites about yourself which could eventually show up on the first page. There are a lot of platforms where you can create a profile. Here are some websites that rank pretty good in Google:
It is quite understandable that Google+ profiles rank well in Google so if you haven’t created one yet, you should do so. Just fyi, there are more than 400 million Google Plus users by now.
The next part is interesting for new and existing members. Whatever you put in into your profile, it can help you rank high for your Name. As you can see below, elements such as your name, tagline and description are used to determine the relevancy of your profile. The links under “other profiles” are dofollow links, which means that they are being registered by the Google Bot. In a nutshell, the more links a site gets from another site, the more relevant it looks to Google, which can result in higher positions.
Use this opportunity to link to your other profiles in order to give them “link juice“, so that they climb up the SERPs.
I have to admit, I am not yet tweeting as actively as many others but I am turning on the tweet machine and tweet more frequently in the future. If you are one of those frequent twitter users, then you are awesome. If you don’t have an account yet, then get your fingers going and sign up for an account. You don’t have to tweet, but by following people that tweet about subjects of your interest you can discover a lot of great stuff.
You can apply the same system here as with Google+ to boost the relevancy of your profile. When you upload your profile picture, you should upload an image with your name as the file name (JohnDoe.jpg). This helps you pop up in the Google image results.
One last thing to mention is that the description can be used to increase the relevance of your profile for certain keywords. Such keywords could relate to your profession, your hobbies or the topics you are tweeting about.
Linkedin is the internationally leading social business network, and that is why you should definitely have a complete profile there. Linkedin profiles rank high naturally so there is actually not much work to do.
Set up a vanity URL so that the address of your profile looks like this: http://linkedin.com/YourName. This will boost your Google ranking significantly.
If suitable, include your full name in the short description field. This will help making the profile more relevant for your name.
To help ranking your name I urge you to create a YouTube account if you don’t have one yet and I recommend you choosing your full name as the username. Having your name as the username really boosts your profile on Google.
If you already have an account but with a different username than your real name, you could consider creating a new account if your name is still available. Be aware, that your video stats cannot be transferred, which might hold some people back. What you can do is insert your name into the user description to rank higher or you can associate your YouTube profile with your Google+ account, which is even better. This would at least help you rank better with an account, which does not have your real name as username.
About.me and Zerply are websites, on which you can create a profile page with a description about you and your CV (Zerply). Of course, you can link to other profiles with dofollow links, which gives the linked pages more link juice. More quality link juice -> better ranking.
Keep in mind that you want to use your real and full name when you sign up. Your name will be in the URL of your profile and if you choose a different name, ranking well for your real name is going to be more difficult.
Quora is a social question and answer platform. You can simply ask a question in a certain topic and wait for qualitative answers or ask an authority in that subject to answer your question. A nice feature is that you can follow other people and topics and by that you can discover good answers to interesting questions.
The Quora user profile is very basic without much information that you can put in about yourself. Basically the profile consists out of a profile picture and some links to other social networks (dofollow links!).
If you think that such a profile does not make much sense in terms of online reputation, think twice. Being active on Quora, asking and answering questions shows how active someone is on the internet, which is a major plus. Besides that Quora profiles rank very well in Google!
Slideshare is a platform to share and discover slide-presentations. A lot of speakers, for example, use slideshare to offer their presentations to the public. The slideshare profile usually ranks quite well up to the bottom of the first search result page. The profile itself offers quite some input opportunities, such as a description, occupation, links to other social profiles and your personal website.
A great help for optimizing online reputations is Brandyourself. Its co-founder was once the victim of an unfortunate search result. He couldn’t get an internship because he was being mistaken for a drug dealer, who has the same name and showed up in the SERPs. This was the catalyst, which led to founding Brandyourself.
Brandyourself offers a profile page and optimization suggestions for up to three social profiles in the free version. It wants you to boost your profile, so that it is perfectly optimized to rank well in Google. The user profiles rank pretty good, mostly on the first or second page.
2. Get your own personal website
If you want something to rank well on Google, the more control you have the better. An own website gives the most control you can have. There are a lot of websites, which offer a large amount of website templates that make setting up a website very easy and time saving. Here are some popular template websites:
You should definitely try to get your full name as a domain. Such a domain would show a high relevance and, with good content, you can easily rank very high on Google.
If you are new to web design and not experienced in HTML & CSS, I recommend that you use WordPress to setup your website. Katie Doyle wrote a good article with tips for creating a personal website on WordPress.
Create a Sitemap
Google’s bots that crawl the web find most of the web pages easily, but it never hurts to make it as easy as possible for Google to index your entire website. Creating a Sitemap can help the bots by showing them a whole list of all the pages of a website. It ensures, that Google doesn’t miss any of your pages. Sitemaps can be quickly created on lots of websites, such as xml-sitemaps.com. For websites that are based on a CMS, such as WordPress, there are many useful plugins that create and update a sitemap. One plugin I recommend is Yoast SEO WordPress. It covers a lot of helpful SEO functions and a Sitemap feature.
Include important keywords in your content
The most important keyword in this case is your name, obviously. Include it in the page title, meta description and in the first headline (h1 tag) of the page. This will help the website a lot to rank high for your name. If it fits into the context, you can also use your name a few times in paragraphs. Just be careful not to use it too often.
Other keywords can be terms related to your interests or profession. If, for example, you work as a freelance journalist you also want to rank high for relevant keywords of that area. In that case, it is important to include such keywords in your website’s content. Usually they fit quite well in paragraphs, that are about your current work or past work experiences.
Use Google Analytics to monitor the traffic to your website
Google Analytics is an online monitoring and analytics tool from Google. It is easy to understand and has very complex analytics features. The most used analytics are the sources from where site visitors got to your page and the visitor behaviour, such as total visits, visit duration and bounce rate.
To be able to use Google Analytics, you need to insert a tracking code snippet into your website. It is quite easy to do if you have access to the source code of your website. Google explains here how to do that. For WordPress sites, there are many plugins that do that automatically. One good plugin is Yoast’s Google Analytics For WordPress.
3. Start blogging
Start writing blog posts about your favorite hobby, your job or field of expertise. Having a blog shows that you are very active on the web and that you like to share your knowledge with the world. With WordPress you can create a blog within minutes.
By writing a blog you can build an audience that might be ready to like and share your content. This would boost your influence and improve your ranking significantly. Also you would pop up in Google not only for your name, but also for Keywords that are in your blog articles.
Google is also planning to implement AuthorRank in the near future. Authorship Rank gives every author of web content a specific rank, which can influence the ranking of the author’s content. Mike Arnesen wrote an awesome blog post about AuthorRank on SEOMoz.
4. Improve your click-trough rate by setting up the Google Authorship Markup
You probably have seen people’s faces showing up next to Google search results and asked yourself how they got there. Well, they made use of the Google Authorship Markup and benefit from higher click through rates ever since.
Fact is, if a face shows up next to a result, it automatically draws the viewer’s intention to it. It lets search results without a face look less prominent and relevant.
If you have an own website or a blog, you should definitely make use of the Authorship Markup and see how your CTR is increasing significantly. Having a rich snippet makes your result much more trustworthy and relevant. Of course, the content needs to be relevant at the end but producing killer content is a whole other story.
Rick DeJarnette wrote an awesome Guide to Google Authorship Markup on Search Engine Land.
To „own“ the first pages of Google on your name can be a big advantage and present you as a highly active and competent personality. You don’t have to spend a dime to get to that, just a little bit of work. Follow the steps above and after a couple of days or weeks, you will see a big improvement on the Google result pages.
Have fun boosting your online reputation, take over the first page on Google and never give it back!
PS: Have you successfully tried different steps to improve your persona on Google? If so, feel free to share your tips!