This article was originally posted to Brand-Yourself’s blog in January, 2010. If you have read this article before, we apologize for the duplicate content but also know that this type of content is good evergreen content. If you have not had the chance to read this, we highly recommend you read this short, digestible post. Your personal brand no longer begins and ends with you…your brand’s tentacles extend to far reaches of the internet. Here’s how to rope them in and create a powerful, reputable online presence…
Like it or not, people are searching for your name online. Translation: If you don’t own your name when someone searches for you, you are behind the curve. The days of first impressions beginning with a handshake are over. Three quarters of companies search for job applicants online prior to meeting them in person. How you manage your online presence is critical to your personal brand and future success, especially for job applicants.
How do you own your name online? Below are six steps you should actively take to ensure that your name online is marketable and professional.
1) Google Yourself. Do you Already Own your Name?
If you are like most people, you do not. Nearly everyone falls into one of three categories:
- The “undesired” category: The results are less than flattering. Social media use exploded so fast that the line between our personal lives and our professional lives began to blur before most people had a chance to pull back the reins. By the time many people realized their footprints online were permanent and that “private” isn’t exactly a reality online, it was too late.
- The irrelevant category: Sure, the results are about you but do they really back up your qualifications and align with your career goals? Do they make you more hirable? Unfortunately, at this point no one cares about your high school track times or the award you received in middle school.
- The “hey, that’s not me” category: In this case, somebody else with your name shows up. They may be famous, or worse, they may be someone you’d rather not be associated with. For example, before owning his name, when you googled our CEO Pete Kistler, you were greeted by an ex-convict from writeaprisoner.com. We’ve heard plenty of horror stories along the same lines, people being mistaken for having a criminal record and strip dancers showing up first when a colleague Googled them in the office. Whatever the case, you do not want to be misrepresented when you are searched.
2) Own your Domain = Own your Name
Now that you know where you stand in Google, it’s time to take action. Owning your domain name and creating a compelling personal website there is the quickest, most relevant way to get listed higher on Google, not to mention a great place to direct employers online. This will be the central hub where you link to all your other profiles, and it only costs about a dollar a month, well worth the investment.
Our Recommendation: here are three sites where you can buy your domain name for less than $10 a year: Namecheap, Name.com and 1&1.com.
3) Create a Personal Site Around your Name
The best way to own your name is to include everything that makes you YOU. Be articulate and precise with your language, and emphasize accomplishments you would want employers to see. Identify what you do best, what differentiates you from your peers and know your audience when crafting your personal brand. Write in the third person so that Google recognizes the site is about you.
If you’re a DIY-type person we recommend using WordPress to create your personal website. WordPress offers a self-hosting option, WordPress.org, which allows you more flexibility and customizability. Wix and Weebly are two other options for those looking for simple solutions to building a website. For more information on these platforms see our recent posts on this topic:
4) Own your Name on Professional & Social Networks
Create profiles on high ranking networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google +, Flickr and Brazen Careerist. Speaking of Google +, in order to join Google’s social network you must create a Google profile, content that is guaranteed to show up on the first page of Google when your name is searched. Take 10 minutes to complete this, even if you don’t plan on joining Google +. Joining these networks allows you to positively increase your presence online and protects you from others creating accounts using your name, which results in unwanted irrelevant results.
5) Create more Content and Links to Rise to the Top of Searches
To own your name, your content needs to show up at the top of Google. One of the most important factors in getting to the top, besides owning your domain and keyword density, is inbound links. The more links you have pointing to your name, the higher you show up. Join free directories and profiles, such as DMOZ, Yahoo, Web World Index and Zeal. Make sure every place you exist online links to every other place you exist online. For example, link your YouTube account to your Facebook account and your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account.
6) Own your Name on News-Wires
A quick way to highlight your accomplishments in Google results and create powerful links for your profiles is to write press releases. Write a press release detailing your latest accomplishments: an award you won, your graduation, launching a website, etc. and submit this to free newswires, such as i-newswire and Article Circulation.
Newswires have been hit hard by the Google Panda update: Google’s “substantial algorithm change” that is aimed at identifying low-quality pages and sites. Online newswires and article directories have been negatively affected since the Panda update in late February, including ezinearticles.com, associatedcontent.com and articlebase.com. As a result, users must identify those content sites that have not been impacted by Google’s Panda update and post their content to these sites.
Managing your personal brand is an ongoing process that evolves and grows over time. Your personal brand is not stagnant. You must be diligent and continue to tweak and update your online content to own your name online. Owning your name=winning new business, getting that new job or driving traffic to your personal website. Why wait, own your name online today.