Before you start reading this article, I want you to go to Google, type in your name, and hit Search. Take a look at the first page of results, and the following:
- Is each listing in the first ten results about you?
- Do the listings about you have any negative information such as bad ratings or reviews?
- Do the listings about you have your contact information such as a phone number, email address, or website?
- Do image or video results that come up for your name actually show you?
If every listing on the first page of search results for your name is about you, has no negative information, and has your contact information so people can get ahold of you immediately after looking at that webpage, then you’re in top shape as far as your online branding goes. If not, here are some ways you can ensure that anyone who searches you finds only the most relevant and positive information about you and you alone.
Create Strong Online Properties for Your Personal Brand
The first step towards controlling your online reputation is creating strong online properties for your personal brand. These should include any (and all) of the following.
- Your Own Website Domain – If possible, secure your name as a domain. Your top choice should be yourname.com, but if that isn’t available, try to find good alternatives such as firstname-lastname.com, yournamerealty.com, or similar. Then create a simple website or blog using a CMS system like WordPress. WordPress, according to Matt Cutts, the most well-known public Google representative, “takes care of 80-90% of (the mechanics of) Search Engine Optimization (SEO).” This means if you want a website to rank well, using this platform is the best way to do so.
- Profiles on the Top Social & Professional Networks – If you haven’t already, be sure to create profiles on Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Biznik, ActiveRain, Flickr, and YouTube. Make sure to include a good bio on each profile (usually 160 characters or less is good), a standard photo for each profile, and keep them active by regularly adding content such as updates, images, videos, and so forth.
- Blogs on Popular Hosted Networks – If you’re having issues with reputation management, such as negative listings and reviews, then you will really want to go the extra mile and create as much positive online content about yourself as possible. One way to do so is to publish unique blog content on sites such as WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr, and Posterous.
Make your username on each yournameif possible and include your name in the blog title to ensure they will rank well.
Claim Established Listings and Profiles About You
There are a lot of networks and directories that will automatically create profiles for you based on public information. A great example is the way Google Places creates profiles for a business that business owners have to claim in order to edit and add information. If you see profiles or directory listings about you in the first page of search results for your name, find out what it will take to claim them (sometimes they are free, other times there is a fee involved), and if you feel it is worth it, do so and update the information. Be sure to try to get in your phone number, email address, or website on the listing to make it worth it!
Upload Media with Your Name in It
Last but not least, be sure that every time you upload a photo or video of yourself, your name is in both the filename and (if possible) the title of the media. This will help you if search results for your name include image or video results so that searchers will see that you are dominating every aspect of your online presence.
Contributing writer Kristi Hines is an online marketing consultant, freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast.