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.
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 123people.com 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.
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.
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.