Control your name. Prospective employers or clients will look for you by name on the Internet, and you need to make sure that what they find will positively reinforce your brand. Make sure the name on your website and other online assets can’t be confused with anyone else; if you’ve got a common name, you may need to use a middle initial or a brief descriptor (e.g., “JohnSmiththeLawyer.com”) to set yourself apart. If you can, secure similar domains (that is, those with suffixes like .net or .org) and redirect them to your site.
Think SEO. When people search for your name, you want them to see your content first – the content that reinforces your brand, rather than neutral or negative content that might weaken it. Making sure that your content ranks high in search results is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Entire books have been written about different SEO strategies, but you should start with the basics. Set up a Google+ account and profile and include links to all your online assets, which will boost your Google search results. Use Rich Snippets to add photos or other distinctive information to your results. Finally, guest-post on popular websites; the more popular the site, the higher your post will appear in search.
Update your assets. Adding fresh content to your website will keep it ranking high in search results. Blogging regularly is a good way to provide fresh content on a regular basis. You should also pay attention to your social media profiles because social-media sites are very popular they tend to score high in search results. The most recently updated profiles tend to score the highest. Regularly updating all your profiles strengthens your overall search rankings; if there’s a particular profile that you want people to see first, update that one most frequently.
Monitor your brand. Your brand is your reputation—essentially, what people are saying about you. There are many tools and services that let you monitor what’s being said about you online. The most basic is Google Alerts, a free service that provides you with daily alerts summarizing each time your name (or any other relevant phrase) is mentioned online. Twitter search can similarly provide you with results that show when your name has been mentioned on that social network. Other premium or “freemium” services, such as Mention and Talkwalker, allow for more comprehensive searches across many social networks. And the major social media management systems, including Hootsuite, Khoros, and Sprout Social, not only track mentions of your name and brand, but also analyze that data and allow you to manage all your social media profiles at once.
Eliminate the negative. One of the reasons to monitor your brand is to find any negative content that’s attached to your name. To protect your brand, you need to eliminate as much negative content as possible. Start by deleting any negative content that you control—say, an inappropriate picture on your Facebook page. (If it’s an old profile that you can’t access, the website or social network will usually cooperate in taking down the content.) Other content might be controlled by a friend or acquaintance, whom you can ask to delete the offending material. It’s a much tougher situation you’re dealing with a negative post or image whose owner won’t cooperate. Then you’ve got only two options: if the negative content breaks the website’s code of conduct you can appeal to the webmaster to delete it. Failing that, your best strategy is to bury the negative content by creating a lot of new, positive content of your own that will rank higher in search results.
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To test your understanding of the content presented in this assignment, please click on the Question icon below. Click your selected response to see feedback displayed below it.
1. True or False?
There are no free services that can help you monitor your personal brand.
Correct. This is a false statement. Google Alerts and Twitter Search, among others, are free services that can help you monitor your brand.
2. True or False?
The most important factor in deciding on a domain name for your website is to make sure that it won’t be confused with anyone else’s.
Correct. You should make sure that your domain name matches your own name as closely as possible, to avoid confusion with other, similar-sounding domains.
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