A set of recommendations for ranking for your name in search engine results.
As recent as a year or two ago, Google would list a map of “Edmond, Oklahoma” when you searched for “Derek Edmond“. It was annoying but not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
Even before Google finally realized my name should not be associated with “oil dereks in the Oklahoma area“, I was working on making sure the rest of the search results showed more “professional” information.
Recently, others have asked how to dominate (or at least control a larger percentage of) search results for their name. Here are some recommendations and ideas to consider for personal brand management in search engine listings.
Key Social Networking & Media Sites
First off, the easiest thing to do is ensure visibility in key social networking and media sites. Here are some of the more important domains that rank prominently for name-based search results.
LinkedIn – Probably the most important from a professional perspective. Create a complete profile and use relevant industry-specific keywords where applicable. Make sure to include your photo, background and up to three links associated to your current work and online initiatives. Seek to get recommendations from colleagues and others you have worked with.
Twitter – Start a Twitter account and user your full name (it will appear in the HTML title of your profile). Include a short bio, link to most appropriate/desired destination, and location. It’s advisable to maintain and update your account on a regular basis. Make sure to submit your profile to popular Twitter directories like Twellow, WeFollow and Just Tweet It.
Facebook – Some people like to separate Facebook from the rest of their professional networks (I was one of them) but if you don’t mind sharing more of your personal information, Facebook profiles rank very well in search results. I spent a fair amount of time making sure my profile did NOT show up in search results, so it will be interesting to see how fast I can reverse that.
MySpace – I don’t use MySpace but others I know who do will rank fairly prominent in name-based search results. If MySpace is of interest (or related to your business interests), consider this social network and make sure what others will see online is what you truly want to convey.
FriendFeed – FriendFeed is not as visible as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter but certainly ranks well for name-based searches. FriendFeed acts as a social media aggregation tool, so you can consolidate all of your social media accounts into one destination (more on linking accounts a bit later). Create a complete profile, include a photo and bio, and add all of your social networking sites to your FriendFeed account.
Other Social Sites to Consider
Check out professional sites like ZoomInfo, Naymz, Slideshare, and Spoke for profile creation. There is a range of personal branding sites like PeoplePond on the rise as well.
Don’t forget to reserve a profile in popular social sites outside of pure social networking as well. Knowem.com has a comprehensive list of social sites to register with and reserve your profile information.
For all profile generating endeavors, make sure to complete your profile as much as possible. Don’t just add your name and leave the rest of the information blank.
Additional social sites I’ve notice rank well for profile information include Digg, StumbleUpon, and Meetup.
Create Personal Site or Blog
Create a site for professional information, and even one showcasing the personal side. If it’s the former, make sure to identify key experience and successes, contact information and links to other social media networks your a part of.
Try to secure and use your full name as a domain for at least one of these.
Even if you don’t want to use your name as the domain name for your personal site, I would still recommend attempting to reserve it.
If an objective of your strategy is the improvement of your personal brand, add any mentions or links available on third party sites as well. In other words, create an archive of your personal accomplishments and initiatives in a central location.
Many people feel comfortable enough in having a site with more personal information (family, passions, community, etc). If that’s you, make sure to add links to your other social networks and professional credentials as well.
Third Party News and Mentions
Obviously harder than it sounds, getting mentions or links from others certainly has an positive impact. There is a range of sites that I’ve contributed to, been mentioned or even commented on that rank for my name.
While this certainly happens over time, here are some ideas on how to go about this:
- Offer to write guest posts on an industry related blog.
- Comment (appropriately) on others’ blogs and use your full name and link to your most important personal site.
- If you’ve done something newsworthy, issue a press release and syndicate it across the wire.
When I became a partner at KoMarketing Associates, we issued a press release with my name in the title, which in turn was picked up in several prominent marketing and news sites. Many of those references are still present today.
- Be an active and productive member of the online communities you’re associating with. Over time, others will recognize your efforts and might reference you via their own blog posts, articles and/or links.
Additional Ideas & Considerations
Here are some final site recommendations, ideas and issues that might be considered or come up.
- Wikipedia – While it would be great to get an entry in Wikipedia, my sense is you’ll need a fair amount of information from news and media sources to be successful. If you’ve got it; great. If not; I’d recommend staying away.
- Competitive Names – If you’re name is the same as someone famous, sorry; you might be out of luck. If you’re name is the same as someone somewhat famous, investigate the places that they’re not listed in and maximize your opportunity to achieve visibility those networks.
- Industry Specific Niche Locations – Since I’m involved in search engine marketing, places like Sphinn, the Boston Chapter of the AMA, and MyBlogLog make sense. They might not make sense for you. Search for the names of others in your industry and pay attention to the domains that come up in search results. Hopefully, you’ll find industry specific communities to get listed in and achieve visibility.
- Activity Matters – In many cases, just having a profile might not be the only step. I doubt there is a coincidence that the social sites I am the most active in are often the ones that rank more prominently for name-based search.
Seal The Deal with Cross-Links
Remember that links matter with SEO and they matter when seeking to improve your presence in search results. Link to your other profile information across each social site in an effort to establish relevant connections.
- Your personal site/blog should contain links to all of your social profiles.
- Cross-linking is where a social news aggregators like FriendFeed becomes important (because FriendFeed encourages you to list all of your social initiatives) but look for opportunities across other sites as well.
- As stated above, LinkedIn allows for three web addresses in your profile.
- If a social site only offers one place to include link information, reference a web page that displays all of your other social profile information (like FriendFeed).
- Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc all provide an opportunity to cross-link other profile information. Even if these links are “nofollowed”, they still provide valuable resources for friends, colleagues and potential networking opportunities.
Hopefully this guide provides a starting point for those investigating how to achieve better visibility for name-based search engine rankings. What sites have you seen work well in your own online marketing endeavors? Your thoughts, comments, and feedback are certainly appreciated.
Thanks for reading my blog, you may want to subscribe to the RSS feed, or follow on Twitter for future updates and information as well!