Ranking for your name in Google is essential in today's professional environment. This is especially true for marketing professionals, whether they have an SEO background or not.
SEO is about control. It is about taking the mystery out of why Google ranks one page higher than another. Though the internet can discredit a person's reputation (e.g. Facebook), it can also be used to solidify and improve one's reputation if properly controlled.
The below 5 steps will help SEO beginners get started towards ranking for their names.
1. Pick a webpage on a website. This could be your personal website, a LinkedIn profile, Twitter page, or just about any other page that is dedicated to you.
2. Make sure this page is well optimized for your name. Use your name in text, and use it frequently, but don't be spammy. When possible use it in bolded text.
3. Alter the Tags (if possible). The Title Tag, META Description and any H1, H2, or H3 tags are excellent opportunities for incorporating your name and do so, if possible, towards the beginning of the tag. Like many western languages, Google reads left to right and top to bottom. Try not to be too long with the tags, because it will dilute the value gained by including your name.
4. Build links. Creating inbound links from one website to your desired webpage is one of the oldest, and the most important, variables in how search engines rank pages for a given keyword. Have a "1 page to 1 keyword" mapping strategy. Don't hyperlink with the name word (i.e. your name) to two different websites on the same page. Here is an example of how I target "Keith Hanks" across multiple websites.
- Keith Hanks (Not really using the website, but I assume I will more in the future)
- Keith Hanks LinkedIn
- Keith Hanks Twitter
- Keith Hanks MySpace Generation (I know no one visits MySpace anymore. This is an old MBA thesis, but it blocks other Keith Hanks pages from ranking)
- Keith Hanks Facebook (I keep this locked down privacy-wise, but again it is a good blocking technique)
Tip: A great place to get links is by writing online articles. Reference your name in the author bio / footer / resource box and include a link to targeted page. For example, "author (hyperlink the prior keyword) is an SEO expert. He is passionate about optimizing websites and driving conversions through increased organic traffic."
5. Repeat. In the most simplistic form, there are 3 variables in SEO: 1) intensity, 2) repetition and 3) competition. With enough repetitive cycles and time, you'll make great strides for ranking your name on a desired page. Should you have a more competitive, or common name, you'll need to increase the intensity of link building cycles.
Why do this?
Simple. Your name is your brand. It represents your reputation. Should someone Google you (and people will) you want to ensure you are controlling the message and presenting the information about yourself that you want to see.
Case in point: There is another Keith Hanks, only 2 years older than me that ranks on deeper pages in Google as a CA prison inmate looking for friendship. I want to avoid any potential confusion with this Keith Hanks. The best way I can do this is to optimize for my name, i.e. my brand, and push pages that reference that person lower in Google search results.
Remember that your identity and reputation online go far beyond posting - or not posting - pictures on social media websites. By creating a strategy that influences what pages should appear for a particular keyword phrase (your name), you are helping to build your brand and create a stronger online presence.
About the author: Keith Hanks is a Sr. Account Manager at Response Mine Interactive, a leader in lead generation marketing programs.