Why You Need to Google Yourself (and How to Do It)

Have you googled yourself lately? I did a light training on SEO as part of branding for a previous program I ran and, I’m embarrassed to admit, I hadn’t googled myself since then.

That is until I attended CEX back in May. And boy, was I in for a surprise. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first:

We’re going to cover:

  1. The difference between keyword SEO and personal SEO
  2. What to do when you have a common name
  3. Three types of content you can create today that will up your personal SEO

The differences between keyword SEO and personal SEO

So first, let’s talk about the differences between keyword SEO and personal SEO.

Keyword SEO:

Keyword SEO is all about long tail keywords things that you’re going to rank for on your website. Examples: “content strategy for course creators”, “strength training for road cyclists”, “leadership development for midlevel women managers”. The idea is, a string of multiple related words.

Now, I want to make it very clear, if you’re one of those abundantly early to the game people or really producing masses of content, or you have so much domain authority that you’re just noticed more often, you could have a short tail keyword, something like “content” and rank for that. But for most of us mere mortals in the world, we will rank easier for long tail keywords.

  • to do this well, you’ll need a blog or video/podcast channel with transcripts
  • social media alone will not aid you here; you need a website
  • a strategic content plan will help you achieve these results faster

Additional resources for keyword SEO:

  • Episode 159 with Buzz is a great resource for more information on this
  • if you are one of the few who hopped on my Branding Black Holes program back in the day, you have the SEO training that I did in there; everything in there is still relevant

Personal SEO:

So now let’s talk about personal SEO; this is how you rank for your name. In my case, Britney Gardner. If you were to Google my name, you’d see a bunch of things, and I’ll talk about that again in just a moment.

  • social media profiles may pop up here, especially if you’re heavy on platforms like LinkedIn (but also lesser-expected platforms like Vimeo, Tumblr, Pinterest, About.me)
  • you WANT your own website’s about or bio page to be the first result; if it’s not, work on that
  • but you don’t have to have a website to rank well for personal SEO

What to do if you have a common name

This leads to my next question or point, which is what do you do if you have a really common name? Also known as, how do you cut through the noise?

Back in my photographer days, one of my friends, Scott Williams, always bemoaned the fact that he would never rank for his name because Scott and Williams are both incredibly common. And you know what? He felt like SEO was a lost cause to him. I’m sure there were people who could help him, but he did have an uphill battle.

This is where my CEX story comes into play.

They gave us name tags with our names, but also a QR code on the front of it. And that QR code led to a Google search results page for “Britney Gardner”, my name. (I’m not sure why they didn’t actually have to go to our main website. I have an inkling that it was about social authority and people who were actually influencers and well known getting a boost from that particular event of the Google search.)

But this is where I had my big surprise. Someone at CEX did the thing. They pulled up the QR code and showed me what actually popped up on their phone. And it wasn’t my website at all! In fact, I actually pulled it up today just to see.

As I search myself today, as I write this article, I see this on Google:

  1. The top result today is Britneygardner.com. It says Britney Gardner. I help bloggers and course creators with measurable content plans that bring leads into their businesses. Talks about chaos, free content creation, all the stuff. Yay, I’m winning Google. I got spot number one for my name.
  2. But just above that, it says, including results for Brittney Griner. That’s Brittney with two T’s, but she’s the WNBA basketball star that I believe is still stuck in Russia after a bogus drug charge. (Since writing this article, she was convicted.) Her name is close enough to me, though I’d argue Griner and Gardner aren’t similar. This ranks very well even if you search for my name. So the second spot is WNBA center Brittney Griner is detained in Russia. That’s a New York Times article.
  3. The third spot is her Wikipedia page.
  4. And then there’s “some people also ask” and it’s three questions about her, Griner, as well.
  5. There is another Google spot about her.
  6. And then finally we get to another one about me, which is my Facebook page.

So clearly, friends, I have some work to do. And this is why Googling yourself is not a vanity experience. It’s a business activity.

I also searched my name on DuckDuckGo, which is what I use for most of my personal searching.

  1. The very first one that pops up there is not me and it’s not Brittany Griner. It’s. Britney Gardner spelled exactly the same as me, who is an employee at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. It’s her Bio page. It looks like she’s a licensing and contract associate there. That one single page ranks so much better than all the content I have out there.
  2. I do, at least, have the second spot, my main site.
  3. I also have the third spot, which is my about page,
  4. And then the fourth spot, which is my course membership area at learn.britneygardner.com
  5. And then it’s not until the fifth or 6th spot that our basketball friend comes up on DuckDuckGo

This shows you why it is important to know what your people are searching for. I see this on my dashboard, my content measurement dashboard, all the time, too. I see how well I rank for people I interviewed three years ago on my podcast.

Options to separate your name from other search results

Feel free to incorporate other names that pop up in your content, much like I’m doing now. But continue to separate yourself from them as much as you can. Add an initial or a title if you’ve got one. I’m not going to start going by Britney R. Gardner anytime soon since I don’t think it will be that hard to separate myself, but it is an option if this problem continues. Content strategist Britney Gardner is another way to do this–simply pairing my name with my job title since I don’t hold an MBA or doctorate type of title.

3 Types of Content to Create Today to Boost Your Personal SEO

  • All your social profiles, all the same picture, all the same, bio or close to the same bio. Make it easy for search engines to connect the dots.
    • in terms of building authority, this is probably something you’ve already done–but like me and my surprise at CEX, it may be an out-of-site, out-of-mind thing
    •  if you’re making it difficult for search engines, there’s going to be mixed results when people search for you
  • Pick up some quality backlinks by either:
    • emailing places you’ve already been mentioned and asking them to change the links to your social profiles into links for your website (A lot of times people go ahead and link to your LinkedIn account or to your Instagram account, and that’s not doing a whole lot of good for you in terms of SEO juice.)
    • submitting to guest speak in places. (Podcasts are a good bet and I’d urge you to listen to my episode with Angie Trueblood on how to pitch if you haven’t done that yet.)
  • On your about or bio page of your website, use Google’s markup schema. Even if you don’t use it elsewhere, it’s an investment that will help this page move to the top.
    • If you don’t have a PR page on your website, this is a great way to do that as well.
    • Having all of that in one place isn’t just good for promotion; it’s good for your SEO as well.

Doing these three things allows the search engines to connect the dots about who you are, what you stand for, and who you can help along the way. That is the goal of personal SEO in a nutshell.

Don’t let a googling surprise happen to you. Until next week, use your content to build that KLT.

Are you ready to create a measurable content plan?

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