Lately, I have been reading quite a few posts on the importance of owning your name in search. For whatever the reason may be, personal or financial, getting your name out there on the web is the most important factor that decides if you will sink or swim. The first thing you must realize on the web, is the if you build it, they will come mentality will not get you very far, and will seal your fate rather quickly. Unless you have a premium dot com domain with type in traffic, or you are a corporation with money budgeted to engage in online ad campaigns, your only alternative is to start creating organic link relationships and opportunities with search engines, more specifically Google. Search engines are still the number one destination consumers go to for their search and discovery.
I find that in terms of traffic, Google is more social media friendly and relevant in search results compared to other search engines. This brings us to my favorite two words, social media. Social media provides us a multitude of tools to help us achieve search engine ranking zen.
Consider your personal brand an empty baseball field. You should be focused and dedicated into making it a field of dreams. The fans, your audience is the dream.
I’m focusing on personal branding. These tools and methods can be applied to any type of branding or promoting on the web. Results are easier to obtain because your brand or keyword is your name, rather than a consumer brand or product such as Apple, or iPod. Your only competition in search is with people that share the same name as you. If you have a real common name such as John Smith, obviously it will be a little harder, but still very achievable. Consider a study that was just released using Eye Tracking technology to determine search pattern behavior. It reveals that:
Fixations are studded around the top 5 results and the majority of clicks are upon the top 3 results (discounting the sponsored link).
Now more importantly then ever, you must be in the top five search results. It’s no longer good enough just being listed anywhere on page one of the search results. Personally, I give more weight to the top results, because usually they are the most relevant sources of information for the desired topic. I will scroll through at least 4-5 pages of results, if I am not satisfied with results from page one. But does your average non informed, non tech savvy surfer scroll past page one? The answer most likely is no.
Chris Brogan touches on the subject of personal branding extensively in a free eBook he just recently compiled and released. This is your starting point, and a required read. Now let’s talk about the easiest way to achieve search engine zen with social media.
Passports are simply accounts or profiles on other social networking sites and platforms. Passports gives us shiny badges for our blogs, more importantly they are a key traffic source. Establishing profiles is important because it promotes your brand’s url. Almost all social networking sites and tools allow for links to your various social networking profiles.
Considering myself to be an early adopter, I’m often very quick to establish multiple passports on and across the social media platforms. The core objective with all shiny toys, new and old is to establish presence. Profiles all have one thing in common, they link back to that empty baseball field, your brand.
I ran a search query on Google for the keyword Mike Fruchter, and realized I now own the search term. There are 79,800 results for the keyword Mike Fruchter, albeit my last name is not as common as Smith. I can rest assured anyone typing in those keywords will find a link back to michaelfruchter.com, and/or a new point of engagement if need be.
Start with some of the basics first:
- Buy your domain name
- Install a blogging platform such as WordPress
- Establish a FaceBook account
- Establish a FriendFeed account
- Establish a Google Profile
- Establish a photo sharing account, ideally Flickr or Picasa
- Establish a Twitter account
- Tag when applicable
- Establish multiple social bookmarking accounts
Establishing accounts is the easy part. Sure this will get you some search engine exposure, but not nearly the amount you would get from using these services on a daily basis. The minimum upkeep of your profiles can take 5-10 mins of your day. By continually updating your statuses on your services, you are increasing your search rankings and branding relevance. Remember a Twitter profile is indexed by Google, but so are those precious tweets. Same goes with those blog posts, FriendFeed comments, Disqus comments etc. Update a minimum of 3-5 times a week if need be. Tags are powerful for search engine traffic as well. Make sure you tag as much as possible when applicable. While I am on the subject of tagging, it’s good practice to tag your blog postings with the subjects name. This is a great way of two way personal branding. I am seeing this used more frequently on blog postings. Here is an example of myself being tagged by Svetlana Gladkova on a posting she wrote titled No Data Portablity? Ok, We’ll Use FriendFeed. The positive from this is the obvious search engine listing.
Sign up for any new social media service that comes along. Take your profile and “set it and forget it.” Repeat the process several hundred times and you are on the right track to reap the benefits.