This post has been modified to reflect new information since its original publication.
How far down the page do you look when you google someone? For most people, it’s not very far; in fact, roughly 90% of searchers don’t click on results past the first page.
So what do you do if your name doesn’t show up at the top of your Google search? Not appearing in the search results can make you look unprofessional or untrustworthy. Plus, if people can’t find accurate and useful information about you, they will be left to draw conclusions about you based on nothing at all—or worse—based on inaccurate, outdated, or otherwise harmful content.
Luckily, there are simple and effective steps you can take to maximize your chances of appearing at the top of a Google search, even if you don’t know the first thing about online reputation management or search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.
1. Create a profile on the main social networks
Social profiles carry a lot of weight and often appear at the top of the search results for an individual’s name. To take advantage of this key real estate, you should create profiles for the biggest sites, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and make sure you use your name in the handles and profile URLs.
For instance, your Twitter username (or handle) should be something like @yourname. On Facebook, make a limited public profile and claim your own custom URL with your name as the address, like this: www.facebook.com/yourname.
2. Start a website for yourself
If you haven’t done so already, sign up with a web hosting company or personal branding service, like our ReputationGrower solution, which creates a basic website for you.
Be sure to name your site www.yourname.com or something similar so that it will rank highly in the results when people search for you online.
Next, you want to add content to your website. Start with a short biography of yourself and a photo. The biography should include your name a few times, but don’t overdo it—it should read naturally. (If you’re web-savvy, you should also consider marking up your biography with structured data like schema.org or another standard syntax.)
It’s also good to have non-biographical information on your site that searchers will find useful. For example, you could post a couple of short articles about topics you’re interested in or that are relevant to your profession.
Just make sure the content is interesting and unique (don’t copy it from somewhere else). It’s also important to write something substantial. Google prefers sites that have longer articles, 800 words and up, over sites with short snippets.
3. Optimize for keywords
Keywords are terms that help search engines decipher the content of sites. For instance, if you’re a pediatrician named John Doe, someone might search for “john doe doctor.” The word “doctor” would be a keyword associated with your name, and Google would look for the word “doctor” on your website.
Of course, that doesn’t mean your site will show up for any term just because it appears on your website. Context is key. That’s why it’s a good idea to write some articles for your website that are on topics that you’d like to be associated with.
For example, Dr. John Doe might write about childhood nutrition, growth milestones, tips for new mothers, and so on. (You can also do a bit of keyword research to figure out which topics will deliver the most bang for the buck, but this isn’t necessary if you have virtually no web presence.)
As more people click on your site when searching for these related terms, Google will start to associate these terms with your name and gain confidence that your site is actually about you.
However, it’s important to not overdo it with keywords. Back in the early days of the web, you could rank just by listing your favorite term (say, “water filtration systems”) over and over. But modern search engines rate websites based on how useful they are to searchers, not how many keywords they contain. As such, the best way to rank highly is to create well-written content on topics that are relevant to your life.
4. Start cultivating site links
When it comes to deciding how to rank websites in their results pages, search engine algorithms prioritize sites that other websites link back to. The more websites that link back to your site, the higher your site will rank.
However, search engine algorithms frown on link exchange schemes, so this works best when the links are non-reciprocal. You want sites to link to you without you having to link back to them.
There are a few ways to start generating site links:
- Post your content to social media—The more other people see your content and share it with others, the more likely someone will link to you.
- Write a guest blog post—If you are a strong writer, you can approach a blog for your industry and ask to do a guest post on a topic that interests you.
- Support a good cause—Many charities and nonprofit groups will provide a link back to your site in exchange for your contributions.
- Sign up for professional directories—If your industry has professional organizations that list members on their websites, see if you can get them to link to you.
For more information about establishing a robust online presence, give us a call. We are happy to offer free advice about the best steps to take for your particular situation.