How to Optimize for Your Own Name: SEO for Personal Branding

I talk a lot about optimizing for your business, but don't spend a lot of time on optimizing something equally important: your own name. Let's face it…business is personal, and personal branding is one way to start the conversation.

Why would you need to brand for your own name?

First things first. There are a ton of reasons – above and beyond owning Google for a search for your name – to use SEO to increase your personal brand, including:

  • Interviewing for jobs
  • Increasing your personal brand
    • For your own business
    • To increase the number of speaking engagements you get
  • Improve online reputation

1. Brand yourself

If you have a name like John Smith, you're going to have a tough time ranking well for it. So, brand yourself. Like choosing a company name, make sure you choose a name wisely – it's what you'll use everywhere on the web.

Deb Micek, who has a relatively hard to pronounce last name, decided to go with CoachDeb. It's memorable, and gets at what she does.

Rich Brooks, the president here at flyte, has the same name as a former football player and coach. What did he do? Branded himself as therichbrooks – TRB for short.

I'll admit…I'm lucky. I spell my first name very unusually – Nicki (short for Nicole), no double-k, no y. So, I've been able to brand nickihicks and own the first page on Google for it:

2. Create a profile…everywhere

Social profiles and publishing platforms are great because they've built up a huge presence online. The bonus? You get the benefit of how well these sites rank!

So…create a profile and, most importantly: make sure (when you can) you get your brand name as your username and/or vanity URL.

Social media

Social sharing

Publishing platforms – Get free accounts and hook them up to auto-publish your Twitter and/or Facebook posts.

Other profiles

…well, you get the idea. And this is just the tip of the iceberg – remember that anywhere you sign up for an account is an opportunity to get your branded username and vanity URL!

In many cases, you probably won't be publishing to a lot of these networks on a regular basis, but try  to post a few things and you'll be able to own yet another space in Google!

3. Blog, then blog some more

I've talked a ton before about why blogs are great for SEO – and they're great for personal branding, too!

On your own blog, link (where applicable) to your social profiles. Like Rich and I do, you can also sign your name at the bottom of each post and link that to the social profile of your choice.

When you guest blog, do the same thing: make sure the blog in question will link your name back to your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn account. (Bonus if they'll link to your company website or blog.) If you become a regular contributor, many blogs will organize all of your posts under your own account page.

Comment, comment, comment. You won't get link value from commenting on blogposts, but depending on how well the post itself and blog rank, your comments could show up in a search for your name in Google!

4. Try some less traditional tactics

We've touched upon some more traditional tactics and – last, but not least – I'd like to mention some less traditional ones:

  • Forum posts and profiles in your industry
  • Bio page everywhere you work
  • Optimized headshots for Image search
  • Mentions and (hopefully) links from speaking engagements
  • Testimonials for your work on your website and/or blog

What about you? Where have you seen a lot of bang for your buck with online personal branding?

Nicki Hicks