When we embark on an analysis of a client’s personal brand’s digital footprint, one of the first things we look at is how discoverable they are across the web via search engines and social media. The ultimate goal of any successful personal brand exercise is to make you more discoverable, shareable and memorable, so discoverability is where we start.
Well you might be the most knowledgeable person in your field, the go-to expert in your niche or have so much to say on a subject you’re simply bursting to let the world know, but if no one can find you, either by name or when looking for relevant information pertaining to your expertise, you may as well not exist.
A couple years ago, a New York research consulting firm asked me to have a chat with a “digital marketing expert” who had a great idea for a startup and wanted to run it past me. We spent most of the 45-minute conversation talking about personal brand and the fact that I could find no information online about him – his LinkedIn profile was a barren wasteland and I could find nothing to corroborate the claim he was an expert in digital marketing. He understood this was a bad experience, especially if I had been a VC or journalist checking him and his claims out.
Sometimes you only get one chance with people. If your brand doesn’t reflect authenticity, that’s bad. Not being discoverable is even worse.
Here are some ideas to help get your brand in order — so you’re more discoverable:
Use your real name
Someone, somewhere will be searching for you at some point in your career. It might be a recruiter or prospective employer, it might be a business contact you’re about to meet for the first time, or it might be an industry peer you’ve known for years that has a potential lead for you (as happened to me yesterday)!
If you’re an internet troll don’t use your real name, but if you’re serious about being discovered, make sure the social profiles and digital presence you care about, and across which you have nothing to hide, can be found.
Overhaul all your profiles
LinkedIn, Twitter etc. all have profiles that are searchable either by Google or Bing or by the myriad of different social media tools marketers and PR people use to discover influencers and experts to engage with.
I’ve talked a bunch about how to be discovered on LinkedIn in my Entrepreneur columns, but the key to being discoverable in search is to have a number of different profiles that rank for your name. Does your company have profile pages for employees? Have you spoken at a conference recently or written an article on a well-known blog or website recently?
These are all places beyond LinkedIn and Twitter that you can set out your stall through a robust profile on a separate page that will show up when people search for your name. Remember also to revisit profiles if your circumstances change. Site owners will be more than happy to update your profile with new information if you send it to them, ensuring your search results stay current and never go stale and out of date.
Crosslink your profiles
Links from websites are hugely important in ranking sites for relevant keyword searches across the search engines. Our client Majestic is one of the go-to resources to understand both the quality and trustworthiness of sites that link to others on the internet, and we use it in personal branding audits to understand how influential someone might be based on their link profile.
It’s important that you crosslink your social profiles so search engines can tell definitely that it’s your LinkedIn or Twitter profile that should show up top and not someone else with the same name. My ClickZ profile is a good example of what I mean here.
The more links you can get the more difficult it is to be pushed off that top spot. There’s a bit (actually a lot) more to SEO (search engine optimization) but that’s it in a simple nutshell
Put yourself in discovery’s way
This is where you start thinking laterally about how you can be discovered as having something to say, even if people don’t know your name. Here’s a quick list:
- Intelligently and authentically commenting on blog posts or on Q&A sites, groups and forums like Quora or LinkedIn. Don’t make it look desperate. Just be cool and share your thoughts by engaging in an empathetic way.
- Start a blog and maybe use your name as the blog site address to rank well. Populate the blog with posts pertaining to your niche that people will find and associate you with that expertise. If you’re worried about the time-suck of writing blogs posts, read this: How to Write a Blog Post in 30 Minutes
- Speak at conference or seminars – we’re spoiled in the digital marketing industry as there are loads of conferences and meet-ups we can try and speak at, but whatever your industry, there will be opportunities for your to share your knowledge from a podium somewhere in the world. If you’re smart, you’ll optimize that speaking gig for maximum ROI by sharing your social channels and other digital properties at the start so people live-tweeting or writing about your session will link to you and share your wisdom beyond the people in the room.
These are just some ideas to help set you up on the road to your personal brand being more discoverable. Get in the groove of thinking like this and it will become second nature. If you’re serious about your career or business and you want to be known as someone to turn to for information or discourse, make yourself findable and available, only then can a real conversation begin!
Remember to check back in a fortnight for the next installment in our series: Personal Branding: 10 Steps to Your Perfect Strategy
And don’t forget to:
Check out our book now in paperback: Introduction to Personal Branding: 10 Steps Towards a New Professional You
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@MelCarson – Founder of Delightful