Like or not, information about you is all over the internet. And search engines won’t hesitate to tell others what they know about it.
The Digital Trends blog posted a great article on how to control your personal SERP (Search Engine Results Page) presence through a site called www.BrandYourself.com. As a privacy hawk, I’ve googled myself several times and decided that most of my skeletons are still safely tucked away in that basement closet. But having crawled out of my bunker to go on a social media blitz recently, in order to raise my professional profile, I was interested in learning about BrandYourself’s process. I also happen to be fairly bullish about branding, so I’m always looking for another plank to add to my platform in that regard.
BrandYourself.com’s site is pretty simple and self-explanatory, not overwhelming a visitor with too much detail right off the back. Like a lot of my favorite sites, it is clean, lightweight, easy to navigate, uses plain language and big, bright call-to-action buttons. In a word, it was ‘inviting’. Dazed and overcome by the warmth, I accepted the invitation and proceeded to create an account thinking that there’s certainly nothing wrong with exerting more control over my online profile. What I found was a great tool to augment my own SEO efforts by creating a great landing page.
BrandYourself uses a step-by-step narrative to complete milestones, funneling you along until you check-off your tasks to completion. A primary component used to build your profile is the ability to integrate your social media sites using apps. The free account allows you to submit 3 links + your profile page, but as expected, you can upgrade for more links and features with the usual tiered pricing. Depending on how much time you spend ‘boosting’ your links, the basic process took me a few minutes, although I recommend having your bio or resume’ handy to copy/paste info. (Side Note: I have an updated and unformatted .txt document with information that I use for such occasions. Not only does it save me time, but keeps my information consistent. I do make slight changes for each entry to avoid redundancy that appears ‘spammy’) The site is clear about being geared towards individuals rather than businesses, but as a self-employed freelance designer – I am my business.
Everything I do online, I try to link back to my gateway for business: my website. Even my email address contains the URL to my website (for those of you still using a Yahoo, Gmail, or -gasp- AOL email address – nudge, nudge, wink, wink). All of my business so far has come as a result of word-of-mouth referrals or from within my small ‘circle of influence’. Thankfully, I have not had to do any cold calls or mass marketing campaigns (yet), but as competition reaches a saturation point – especially on a global scale – I can’t afford to leave too many stones unturned. As a matter of survival it’s imperative that I control and optimize my branding efforts.
As mentioned in the Digital Trends article, employers (clients and others I assume) are widening the scope of their background checks to search engine and social media sites. What will they find if you’re googled or view your facebook or twitter feed? I have to think that if my clients believe as I do…that WHO I am as a person will directly translate over to HOW I do business, will my profile be an asset..or a liability?
Excuse me while I go tweak my profile a bit more…