What are people saying about you online?
Are you on the first page of Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) under your full name?
If I type your name right now, can I tell immediately how amazing you are in what you do?
These are the questions that you have to ask yourself regularly. Let’s face it; we live in a generation where information is accessible in a matter of seconds (thanks to Wifi and Google!). I always joke around back in college that I exist within two worlds — offline and online. Yes, it sounds like a lot of work; but once you build a proper online landscape and maintain it, you’re going to be just fine.
Start by Monitoring Your Google Searches
Make it a habit to constantly google your name. At least do it once or twice a year. It’s not silly! If people are searching about you, it’s good to know what they are seeing. Use this as your starting point! Ideally, you want your online website (CV or blog) to be the first on the list, and then followed by highly optimized social media profiles starting from LinkedIn. From the search results, pick and choose which ones you do not want to be associated with, such as gaming and online profiles that bear your professional name.
The best way to improve your SERP is to understand Google’s search algorithm. In a nutshell, create credible online content directing to your name to push down the negative or unrelated links. This can take time, but you’ll get there!
Define your Online Goals and Brand Image
If you do not set goals at the beginning, you won’t have any way to determine to measure your success.
Ask yourself how would you like to be seen online? Do you want to be a thought-leader in your field expertise? Who do you want people to see when they find you online? Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal boss or customer, and then write down the things you would like to see about yourself.
Create Your Credible Sources
This is the most important part of the process. It’s where you gain the trust of the people looking for you, whether a customer or future employer. I must remind you again that we now live in the world where people research about you before giving you two minutes of their time.
Here are simple ways to create credible and positive sources pointing to your online brand:
- Own a website: The first step to maintaining a positive brand image and a credible online source is investing in a website. An optimized website under your name or brand (e.g., www.yourfullname.com) ranks first on the search page. Tip: If you are in a budget crunch, Godaddy or Netfirms normally have amazing domain sales. From there, you can redirect your URL on WordPress.com or Tumblr.com and use the free templates. Just make sure to optimize your page using SEO plugins!
- Maintain a blog: A blog helps you to regularly create updated content, which is also part of Google’s criteria. Depending on your goals, you can post weekly or monthly, weighing on relevant topics. People will find your content readily rather than the negative reviews or other individual profiles with a similar name.
- Be Active on Social Media: Creating and maintaining a solid presence on major social media network are the best ways to build credible sources. Why? These are the most authentic sources when it comes to search results; and due to the traffic driven to these sites, search engine results will rank well. You don’t have to sign up in every social media; instead, concentrate your time on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Depending on your personal brand, Pinterest, Snapchat or Periscope might be great options too. Tip: If you like to separate your personal life from professional, create two separate profiles and keep your personal one private or under a different name.
- Become a contributor: There are tons of trusted online publications where you can contribute your knowledge in your field of expertise, such as Huffington Post, Notable.ca, Mashable, Buzzfeed, and Reddit. The best thing about this high traffic sites is they normally show up faster on Google searches.
- Get involved offline: Nowadays, your involvement offline also appears online, such as attending social events, conventions, and volunteers. The more external photos and content created about you through other credible sources, the more it will strengthen your personal brand online.
The sooner you build your online personal brand, the sooner you will improve your online presence. The perfect time to do this is before you graduate from post-secondary school. Nothing is more impressive than amazing online landscape when you are looking for your first career job. So, what are you waiting for?