Monday, October 15, 2012

Personal Branding – You Are What They Google

Laura Powers of the Simpsons(tm)
OK, I’ll admit it. I’ve got Google Alerts set up for my name. I also like to Google my name from time to time, just to see what comes up.

Think I’m weird? An ego-surfer? Maybe, but there is a reason why I monitor my name on Google. You see, I’m not just interested in how I see myself – I want to know how you see me.

In today’s hyper-connected world, you are what you can Google – or rather what others can Google about you. Increasingly those without an online presence are viewed as out-of-step at best and suspicious at worst. Consider these statistics:

  • 79% of recruiters screen applicants using information available online
  • 86% of hiring managers rejected someone based on information they found online
  • 7 out of 10 of people who are online check other people’s profiles
Typically, when someone does a casual search, they will only read what appears on page one. Most won’t even bother to scroll down to the bottom, so it’s the first five or six links that matter the most. Therefore, owning that digital real estate, or at least a significant part of it, is important to your credibility.

That’s not a big deal if you have a relatively uncommon name like mine. However, what if you have a more popular name, like Laura Powers?

Just who is Laura Powers?

  • The musician heard on albums like “Legends of the Goddess?”
  • The teenage girl who lives next door to Bart on the Simpsons?
  • A custom jeweler from Atlanta?
  • Vice president of marketing at Furia Rubel Communications?
Obviously, she’s our VP of marketing. If you know anything about her, it’s not hard to distinguish her from the others. But, what happens if her name drops out of the top five? Her credibility could suffer or she could be missed altogether.

To increase your chances of appearing in the top five, try these tactics:

Blog: Creating a blog can help you to be seen faster. Google’s algorithms like blogs and,
so long as you update the content regularly, you’ve got a good chance of being seen. Make sure your bio and profile information are up-to-date so that you put your best foot forward when someone clicks through.

Engage in social media:
It’s rare to find a person who does not have at least one social media profile on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Make sure you post regularly and that your profile information is complete and presents you in a professional manner. Also, don’t ignore Google+. Connecting your social media profiles to Google+ will help them to appear closer to the top in a Google search. Google likes Google – go figure.

Integrate keywords into your blog and social media:
By using keywords specific to your profession, you will score higher when someone searches for your areas of expertise (e.g., marketing), it will help to differentiate you from someone else with the same name (e.g., Laura Powers the jeweler from Atlanta).

Use a content manager: If lack of time is keeping you from engaging in social media, then consider using a content manager to organize your posts. A content manager is simply a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying of content on a website. A blog coupled with an RSS feed can serve as a content manager. Other programs like Hootsuite let you set up and distribute media messages at predetermined times. It’s all about using the technology to be more efficient. 

Photos: Don’t underestimate the value of a professional photo, especially in the online environment. Your social media profile photos will often appear in your Google search, so make sure they’re good ones. Ask yourself, could I show my profile photo to my mother? If not, upgrade it now and be sure to use your name in its title. IMG.001 doesn’t cut it.

Video: YouTube has become the second most powerful search engine and Google indexes YouTube videos instantly. In fact, Google owns YouTube, so creating, personalizing and optimizing a YouTube channel will help you to rank higher in a search. Here are a few things to remember: Include your name in the title, check the visibility box, check the email location box and most importantly, choose three to five relevant keywords, separated by quote marks. 

Post on your company’s website: Having your profile connected to other high ranking websites will help to increase your search engine visibility. So, if it’s appropriate, post your bio and photo on your company’s website and blog on your company’s blog.

Get quoted in articles, press releases or on popular blogs: Being mentioned in a relevant article will help your name to rank higher in a search. This can also apply to press releases, if they are optimized with appropriate keywords or appear on a popular website. Is your company’s website popular and well optimized? If there is an opportunity, ask your PR department to issue a press release that mentions your name.

Submit for professional awards: Prestigious awards carry value for your name, especially if the organization posts the winners on their website or in a press release.

Wikipedia: Few of us have the chops to have a Wikipedia page or appear in a Wikipedia article. That said Wikipedia articles appear in over 96% of Google subject matter searches, so being cited in a Wikipedia page will increase your visibility.

There are other ways to increase your visibility on Google, but this should give you plenty to work on. If you’re fighting for that coveted Google space, then you’ll want to start using these tactics on a consistent basis. You never know who is watching.

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