Not surprisingly, the first results page of a Google search gets virtually all of the action, with the first three organic results jointly constituting roughly 61% of clicks.
It’s no wonder that marketers, web developers and copywriters spend so much time and effort (not to mention money) trying to woo the notoriously discerning search engine.
Papa G is famously difficult to please, but that doesn’t stop us from trying, because we know that the payoff is huge if we can get our sites to that elusive first page.
Unfortunately, our obsession with making our digital real estate attractive and appealing means that personal branding all too often falls by the wayside and, as I point out in this article, a strong, well-cultivated personal brand is one of two things that you’ll need if you want to stand out and get noticed.
I’d like to see a world in which we spend at least half as much time working on how we present ourselves – i.e. personal optimization – as we do on creating a powerful web presence. I’m not saying that SEO isn’t important – it is and it probably always will be – but I think the time has come to apply some of the principles of SEO to our personal branding strategy.
Find your keywords
SEO meaning: Incorporate the words and phrases that you’d like to rank for into your web copy and alt text.
Human equivalent: As in the context of SEO, finding relevant keywords in a personal branding sense is probably the most important step.
What do I mean by this?
It’s actually quite simple: you need to find your voice, and then hone and cultivate it. Whether you’re a writer, blogger, public speaker or entrepreneur, it’s important that you communicate using a tone that is representative of your values and ideals and, most importantly, that you’re comfortable with.
Think of three words to describe yourself and what you’re about, and build your voice on those three words. For example, you can be quirky, entertaining and energetic, or you can be authoritative, knowledgeable and intense. Whatever words you use to describe yourself, make sure that what they represent comes across in all your communications. Consistency is key!
Write a meta description
SEO meaning: A short snippet of text that explains what a web page is about. Succinct and descriptive.
Human equivalent: Your personal elevator pitch, or what I like to call the “Power Introduction”. If you had one opportunity to meet a key influencer in your niche, and you had less than a minute to tell that person everything he or she needs to know about you, what would you say? Go ahead and write it out, because that meeting could happen tomorrow, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared.
SEO meaning: Create hyperlinks that take users from one page or piece of content on your site to another page or piece of content.
Human equivalent: Draw on your own experiences and frame of reference when developing your personal brand. Use stories from your own life – triumphs, successes, even failures – to take your prospective clients on a personal journey. Make them identify with you.
SEO meaning: Getting other websites and blogs in your niche to link back and drive traffic to your own site.
Human equivalent: It’s all about networking, baby. Reach out to thought leaders and professionals in your niche, attend conferences and seminars and do whatever it takes to get your name out there and become an authority in your field.
Assign alt attributes to your images
SEO meaning: Tag the images you use on a specific page with names/descriptions that incorporate relevant keywords.
Human equivalent: An image is only that, an image, and it’s fairly useless without backup content. Ensure that you have the knowledge and expertise to back up how you portray yourself to the world. In other words, be what you say you are!
Create quality content
SEO meaning: Create content that is consistently excellent and adds real value to the lives of your audience.
Human equivalent: Most content creators (this one included) will tell you that, if you really want to drive organic growth and rank higher on search engine results pages, there is no substitute for great content. You can keyword-stuff all you want, Google’s algorithm will eventually catch on and you’ll be penalized.
Similarly, developing a strong personal brand relies heavily on your willingness to work hard, learn as much as you can about your niche, be prepared to fall down nine times and stand up ten, and be the best at what you do.