I’ve been on vacation for the last week – hence the lack of a new post for awhile – and I sat down all ready to write on, well….something else.  Then I came across a new post by Danny Dover over at SEOMoz and my plans changed.

For the record – this post is not targeted at all of you social media and SEO professionals.  This is a post for your friends, family and colleagues who don’t eat and breathe the online environment like you do.  This is for the people who know they get ‘googled’ but don’t know how to control what shows up there.

So, you’ve googled yourself and you are nowhere to be found, or maybe you’re there but you don’t want your placement on the Honor Roll in Jr. High showing up on the first page.  Here are some high level, first-step kind of things that I would suggest you do RIGHT NOW so you can start controlling your personal brand online.  There are many, many others but this is a good place to start.

  1. Facebook: You have one and chances are there are lots of pictures either you or a friend posted on there.  Some of these might not put you in the best light.  Go to ‘Settings’ and clean your S up.  That part actually holds true for all of your online social networks (I’m looking at you MySpace users!) While we’re on that topic…have you become ‘friends’ with people that you’d consider associates rather than buddies?  Consider your entire audience before updating your status with something like “Drinking till I get faded and shakin my a** tonight”.  (Pulled directly from a friends update on a weekday no less.)  If you want to be free to be yourself in your online social environments that’s fine, but consider limiting who you become ‘friends’ with online.  Also be sure to grab your personalized Facebook URL! It’ll make it easier to share the link as well as potential SEO benefits.
  2. LinkedIn: If you don’t have a profile set up on LinkedIn – get one.  Then complete it fully.  If you’ve got one, make sure the information on it is correct, up to date, and free from grammatical and spelling errors.  Do your best to reach a 100% level of completeness.  LinkedIn will give you suggestions on how to make that happen.  There are a whole host of great tips and ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile over here so I won’t go into much more detail – just go read that.
  3. Naymz: Although Naymz is quite a bit less popular than LinkedIn it offers a great feature that LI does not.  Naymz places an add in the paid section of the search results (see image below) which will add additional placement on the front page for your name and lead the reader back to another site that offers up quality relevant information about you.  Your Naymz profile is also a great place to funnel people back to your other sites for more information as it lets you place links to other sites.
    naymzkristyppc

    Paid results show up along the right hand side of the SERPS (search engine results page)

  4. Your Domain: Yep.  Run FAST and go grab your domain name.  Getting the .com is your best bet, but I’d also pick up the others if you can swing it.  You want to be sure and control the message that’s being put out under your name even if you’re not planning on using them all.  Grabbing up a few domains like this will run you a wee bit, but it’s a small price to pay.  Hit up GoDaddy or some other domain registrar and get your domains.
  5. Your Site: You’ve got your domain.  Awesome.  You won’t show up in the search results without content.  Setting up your own site is far easier than you believe.  Look – I did it so don’t be afraid.  There’s always more to learn but to get something basic put up while you’re learning you don’t have to look far.  Check out WordPress if you’re looking for some kind of a blog platform.  This is a great idea if you want searchers to find specific information, or to establish yourself as a professional in your niche.  Don’t be afraid to combine topical themes.  Check on Kenny Hyder’s blog for an example of personal and professional interests combined effectively.  If you’re looking for something a little less complicated and robust check out the post that brought me to this topic to begin with:  The Layman’s Personal Branding Platform Danny Dover created a ‘Personal Branding Platform’ that may be perfect for what you’re looking for.  He’s even outlined all the instructions you’ll need to install it on your domain.

Disclaimer:  If your name is Jennifer Lopez or Michael Smith you may want to dig a bit deeper than this post will go.  You’re going to have to try quite a bit harder to dominate the SERP’s for your name.  If you can’t connect with a professional SEO I suggest researching some of the plug-ins that are available to help the seo efforts on your new site/domain and reading up on some ORM (online reputation management) for individuals and SEO principles.    The afore mentioned SEOmoz has a vast amount of resources on both, but in particular a great ‘Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization’ Now if you are interested in connecting with a professional in either the SEO or ORM spaces, let me know.  I know some pretty amazing faces in the space and would gladly refer you.


UPDATED–

So….thanks to Kimber Cook for pointing out a bit of a misconception in this post.  I have been on Naymz for so long I had forgotten that there were in fact stipulations to getting the PPC placement of profile endorsement.   A user must reach a ‘repscore’ (Naymz way of ranking a user) of at least 9.  As Naymz is currently using a relational model and their algo’s are getting updated pretty regularly this isn’t that difficult to do.  Make sure you connect with as many people as you can and fill out your profile completely.  As with LinkedIn there is a place to add links to your other sites as well including your blog which will automatically populate the most recent post.