Published On: Sat, Mar 20th, 2010

10 Tips to Boost Your Personal SEO

There has been an awful lot written about personal brand and how people should be aware of their digital footprint, especially students and those starting out in their careers. I hear these terms bandied around semi-regularly, but a quick look online shows there is very little specific information on how people can actually manage their digital footprints and enhance personal SEO*. So I thought I’d pull together 10 easy to follow steps which should improve your personal search in no time at all.

For starters…
To begin with search Google for your name and see what comes up. Then include the industry you want to work in. The fact is employers do google potential employees, so it is well worth monitoring this. Then have a look at which is essentially a people search engine that aggregates people’s photos, videos, email addresses, and social network profiles. This will basically show you your digital footprint. At this point it may be best to consolidate your social media platforms and close any dormant accounts.

1. Blog
I would strongly recommend to any PR student or person wanting to break into the industry to start a blog. Not only is it an effective way to document your thoughts on the industry and improve your writing, but it can be a great networking tool and will score highly on search. In my experience, being able to demonstrate a firm grasp of wider industry issues at an interview is a brilliant way to stand out.
Tip: be sure to make full use of tags by tagging (appropriately) key words and your name within the blog, as this improve search further.

2. Linked In
Create a Linked In account. It’s an excellent way to showcase your career, latest achievements and network with industry professionals. There is also numerous groups and discussions to join, as well as many jobs advertised. Quite simply it’s a great online community to be part of and if you think of it like a professional Facebook, you’ll be alright. Linked In also scores highly on search.

3. Twitter
Twitter has been the darling of the PR industry for the last 18 months, so it is well worth gaining an understanding of this platform. In its most basic form Twitter can effectively be utilised as a tool to share your industry thoughts and personal observations.

Whilst, Twitter scores highly on search, for me the real benefit is the unparalled access to industry colleagues and importantly what they are thinking and up to. Although, there is a lot of noise on Twitter, it still has the potential to be a really neat networking and personal SEO tool. Do remember that employers will check your tweets to try and find out more about you. So it is worth considering what you broadcast.
Tip: show your true personality, but also demonstarte that you are interested in the industry by talking about and re-tweeting PR news.

4. Comment on other blogs
Whilst, I know many PR students who blog, too few regularly engage in the online conversation by commenting on other people’s blogs. Making comments is a great way to network with industry professionals, promote your own blog, and encourage comments from others.
Tip: when you comment on someone’s blog it will ask you for your website/blog URL, by entering this you are linking back to your own site which will boost SEO.

5. Upload a CV to Scribd
I would strongly recommend all students to create a Scribd account and upload their CV. This can be easily edited, downloaded by prospective employers, scores highly on search and can be embedded into a blog or website. Whilst, Linked In is great for an initial introduction and networking opportunities, it is yet to produce professional looking CVs. Indeed Linked In’s poorly templated, CV PDFs are one its biggest weaknesses.

6. Privacy settings
Whilst, this post contains lots of tips to enhance personal SEO, you should also take steps to protect your online reputation by having your privacy settings on private for Facebook and all other personal networks. In addition, leave any Facebook groups which betray the image you trying to project e.g. someone companies would like to employ. Remember that social media is often immediate, public and permanent. You don’t own your Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg does.

7. Write for other publications
Students I speak to do not seem to consider this, but by guest blogging or writing for other publications and websites you will boost your personal SEO. Indeed, just a couple of articles for different publications will make a lot of difference.

Writing about the PR industry, as well as having your name appear online with some good use of tags will also boost personal SEO. At the end of the day employers will be impressed if they Google your name and find a number of well written article on the PR industry.
Tip: I would recommend writing something for PR student magazine Behind the Spin.

8. Google Profile
When Google launched this feature in 2009 it was designed as a kind of virtual business card. Whilst, Google Profile usage has not quite taken off as expected, I’m sure that creating a profile with the worlds biggest search engine can only be good for your personal SEO. I would recommend creating a profile with a vanity URL ASAP.

9. Make yourself contactable
This is something that I still find frustrating. I’m not saying publish your home address and mobile number, but I would say make an email address available online so people can contact you directly. Whilst, being active on various social media platforms is a great start, most organisations still communicate by email not via social networks. So make sure you are easily contactable.
Tip: To avoid spambots you should write your email address phonetically, for instance my email becomes contact[at]ben-cotton[dotcom].

10. Make your work sharable
If you do a great piece of work, don’t be afraid to share it online. There are a range of platforms that you can use to host work such as Scribd, Slideshare, YouTube etc. It’s all about setting your work free so others can see and share it – once again this scores highly on search. We advise our clients to have content that is sharable to the largest possible audience and the same principle can equally be applied to individuals looking to enhance their reputation.

I would then recommend waiting for a week as it normally takes a couple of days for Google to trawl the web for these SEO improvements.

*Caveat: I’m a great advocate of e-portfolios, but have omitted them from this particular list. Whilst, I think they are a great tool, I’ve chosen to include tips which can be carried out fairly quickly, whereas an e-portfolio takes months to put together. Click here to watch the video of the e-portfolio presentation I gave to Leeds Met earlier this year.

About the Author

- Marketing Manager with a passion for inbound at HubSpot, Founder of Growth Hack Talks, Blogger at and Chief Quaffer at .

Displaying 45 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Fiona Doran says:

    Great post Ben, have taken this on board. I hadn’t even heard of Google Profiles!

  2. Josh Wheeler says:

    Really, really great post Ben. I have ‘Googled’ myself a few times to ensure only a few of these points were in action, but this gives me some great pointers in moving forward.

    I have a few pieces of work that I always send along with my CV, so it begs the question why I don’t make more of them in the first place? I am about to upload to Scribd

    Have added this to my favourites to have a go at each step

    Thanks Ben!

  3. Thanks for 7 – and, look, I’m following tip 4!

  4. A really good post and something that will help those starting out in digital and traditional media get off to a flier when it comes to understanding the basics of Search Engine Optimisation.

    Ranking highly for your name for things relevant to the career you are pursuing is essential nowadays and it also demonstrates that you understand how the web can affect your own brand reputation – would defo get you an “in” with us at 10Yetis anyway 🙂


  5. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by bencotton: 10 Tips to Boost Your Personal SEO:

  6. Really good practical advice here.

    It’s important to remember that the Internet can spring all sorts of surprises and that managing the flow of information about yourself is just as critical as being aware of what brands are upto.

  7. kat4pr says:

    Hi Ben, thank you for this post. Really great advice.

    The last time I run search for my name on
    Google, I realised that it didn’t fetch my PR e-portfolio at all and a link to my blog was lost on the bottom of the second page.

    This is why your point about the importance of appropriate tagging is essential! Always use your name, surname and also you Twitter ‘name’ when tagging your blog posts, documents on scribd or presentation on slideshare. Otherwise, people will not be able to find you.

  8. Ben Cotton says:

    I agree that correctly tagging is very important. I think the key is to be consistent in how you tag and describe yourself, whilst making sure to link to all the platforms you are active across e.g. WordPress, Twitter, Scribd etc. If you follow this you should find yourself optimized for search.

  9. Sarah Whyte says:

    Really good advice Ben.

    I have googled myself before but never knew about 123 people. My post in someone else’s blog was listed but not my own so I will definitely make use of these tips and have already contributed to Behind the Spin. Although I hope to contribute more in the future.

  10. @Sharon_chan says:

    Thank you for this fantastic post Ben! This really does sum everything you need in order to gain a successful career in PR. I recently went to the London Blogger Meet up, where a HR talked about the importance about building and maintaining your “Brand presence online” in order to have a successful career in any industry.

    I can not praise you enough for highlighting the importance of the the privacy settings on Facebook! A lot of students and PRs have made the mistake of not setting it and I have seen cases of people not getting employed, or worse getting getting fired due to the offending images on their Facebook profile.

    On the subject of Twitter, I agree that this is a great way of being noticed as a good source for the latest PR related news. Also showing a genuine interest in a particular brand, or sector is also a brilliant way to convince a new business client that you really are the perfect agency/team to the latest PR work for them.

    Thanks again for the great post! Keep up the good work! : )

  11. Really great article that many will find useful. Even a couple of tips that I have nener considered before. Such as sharing your CV online and keeping tags on posts. Even though I run a blog I have never been bothered to tag everything. Perhaps I should have a mass tag overhawl?

    Brilliant stuff.

  12. Great post, Ben! Stresses the importance of maintaining a professional online presence. I agree that commenting on others’ blogs is a great way to engage in coverstaion while increasing SEO. Great, practical tips to increase SEO! I also find that dialoguing on is a great way to connect with others.

  13. hjmartin says:

    Thanks for the tips Ben 🙂
    I need to get on a Google profile & sort out my LinkedIn..
    There are far too many other Hayley Martin’s!

  14. […] are pivotal to building better positioning for SEOs. Likewise, Ben Cotton of Social Web Thing offers advice on how to best economize your social media presence and how to best diversify your […]

  15. Chris Norton says:

    Nice post Ben, I agree with all of the points you have put in here. I always check to see whether a student blogs or tweets to see if they have experieince engaging in social media. It’s far easier to work with someone who understands how to use it both for personal and business usage.

    Many people under estimate the role comments on blogs can play in helping with SEO. Every comment which links back to your blog is another in-link which Google loves but for me the best is guest blogging on other people’s blogs. I think it’s best to guest blog on sites similar to your own. I write on several blogs including client blogs, my own and on (excuse the shameless plug lol) We are actually looking for guest bloggers who know and understand Twitter to get involved so if you intrested in writing a post – drop me an email and let me know.

    Keep up the good work Ben and I hope we can catch up in the real world again soon.

  16. Emma Long says:

    Hi Ben,

    A great set of tips and I will certainly be putting a few to good use.

    You make a great point that although we are all trained to conduct PR we often forget to ‘PR’ the most important aspect – ourselves.


  17. This is what people need.
    thank you for the post,
    keep going on.

  18. Adam Burns says:

    Great advice Ben!

    It still baffles me how many of my peers have never Tweeted or Blogged. Most are now looking for placements and it is no surprise that the ones with the strong online profile are the ones landing the best jobs.

    This post had also led me to a rather embarrassing video from my days playing university football, needless to say it has now been swiftly removed.

    Cheers mate!

  19. Throughout your career having an eportfolio is crucial to your online personal brand and credibility.

    It’s not just about having a LinkedIn profile. It’s about proving you are an expert in your field. So whether that is commenting on relevant blogs, answering questions posting a blog or sharing documents.

    You can’t just do a purge on it and leave it. It needs to be a continual growing part of your time management. It could be the difference between getting a job or not, getting a speaking opportunity or not. Those things are crucial.

    One last caution. You can lose your credibility in one hit. So when you are out on the town, think about if those photos could get uploaded to facebook and tagged. Think about what you’re saying on facebook and how that could be portrayed.

    Employers are researching candidates online, and if you’re personal brand doesn’t meet their expectations, then don’t expect a call any time soon to say you’ve got the job!

  20. Ben Cotton says:

    Thanks very much for your thoughts Charlotte. I think it is important to make the point that e-portfolios are something that continue to evolve over time, rather than thinking of them solely as a static piece of work.

    I’m currently investigating how I can update mine – it’s been two years since graduation and I’ve undertaken a lot more challenging work in that period. I’m drawn towards the concept of an all encompassing Lifestream that aggregates my social media profiles and includes strong pieces of work. So watch this space.

  21. […] While it’s important to explore your passion, she recommended to become familiar with SEO – as most employers need this skill in a worker. Carri also advised me to understand how […]

  22. Nik Thakkar says:

    Ben, this is such a good post. Nicely done. Keep it up.

  23. Hannah J says:

    Great tips here Ben -I agree completely, I work in PR and when we were recruiting the first thing we did was Google each applicant.

    I also agree that social media is very important – for those that thing starting a blog is too big a task then Twitter and LinkedIn offer great substitutes acting as showcases where you can demonstrate your professional opinion.

    Nice to see someone looking out for the students Ben!


  24. Ben Cotton says:

    Hey Hannah, great to hear from you. I agree with your point on Twitter and Linked In, but I think you can really differentiate yourself by blogging. It’s not easy, it takes time and can be quite a commitment – and for these reasons it is a great way to make yourself stand out.

  25. BURN LIST says:

    Awesome. Finally a good SEO site. Thanks for sharing. Its nice to get something that makes sense when it comes to the SEO thing, since it is so important to the industry and all. 🙂


  26. […] useful tips on building Personal SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), I recommend Ben Cotton’s blog [10 Tips to Boost your Personal SEO]. He can also be followed on Twitter […]

  27. Hi Ben, many thanks for these tips (which, as you’ve seen, I’ve promoted on my blog). I just wanted to inform you that since reading this advice, I’ve become one of those obsessives who types their name into Google every day! Oh dear! Is this the down-side of Personal SEO monitoring?


  28. Ben Cotton says:

    Hi Shelley,

    Thanks for the comment and mentioning this post on your blog. I hope you’ve not become too obsessive about Personal SEO – I find a daily Google Alert and weekly Google search is adequate.

  29. Good initial post and good follow answers as well.

    My (on-going) project is to create what I think of as a web-portal; a place that pulls together links to yourself.

    There will be a ‘blog section’ but I want to avoid creating ‘a blog’ that dies after a few months; a lot of them around sadly. As you replied to Hannah

    “It’s not easy, it takes time and can be quite a commitment”

    My cunning plan is to create several articles in advance so I will have something to post for some months ahead on some specific areas. That way there will always be something – at least for a few months ahead.

    I can also appreciate your response to kat4PR: “I think the key is to be consistent in how you tag and describe yourself”.

    I need to decide whether my primary domain should have a hyphen in it or not.

  30. […] digital footprints. Instead, we should look to enhance not minimise our digital footprint with some Personal SEO techniques. Below is a copy of the presentation – if you attended the session I would delighted to hear your […]

  31. […] of the advice from Me and My Web Shadow, Stephen also talks about Ben Cotton‘s concept of Personal SEO (search engine optimisation), which gives some good technical detail about looking after what […]

  32. […] had the pleasure of meeting Ben once, he wrote this great article. I love the phrase “personal SEO”, it describes the granularity of Internet. It’s […]

  33. Mark Dorey says:

    Hi Ben, just thinking again about personal SEO and thought I’d revisit this article and take some of your advice on board!

    Good point about using your name within your blog as this is something I’ve not done as of yet.



    • Ben Cotton says:

      Hey Mark,

      I hope you’re well?

      Including your name, industry specific keywords, tags and appropriate title and opening sentences is the best way to improve your Personal SEO and get your blog scoring higher up Google.

      However, writing about sport is difficult as it is a really popular area with lots of content being produced. You may find the Google AdWords Keyword Tool useful to see what sport related terms people are searching for. You could then alter your language, tags, titles etc accordingly.

      Google AdWords Keyword Tool:



  34. […] “10 Tips To Boost Your Personal SEO”, Social Web, Ben Cotton, web,20/03/2010 […]

  35. […] 10 Tips to Boost Your Personal SEO – 35 comments and 3 Likes […]

  36. […] Are you managing yours correctly? Here are some useful techniques which can help enhance your Personal SEO and manage your […]

  37. Joseph Bona says:

    Thanks Ben,
    a lot of good points in here.
    I am going to try some of them as see if I get any results.
    They must work for you as you were top 3 results for ‘personal SEO’
    Thanks again for the post!

    Joseph Bona

    • Ben says:

      Hi Joseph,

      Thanks for the compliment.

      These tips are based on my understanding of social media, SEO and employability – do let me know how you get on with them and please share any tips you may have.



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