Rules on how to craft your personal profiles on social networks
Guest post by Rand Fishkin
Founder & CEO, SEOmoz
During my participation in Social Media Week in Milan, Italy, and in private meetings with several folks from local businesses and government offices, I was surprised at how many times the issue of SEO for reputation management arose. Perhaps Italians on the web are given to sparking controversy or perhaps it’s merely coincidence, but either way, I promised to write a post describing some of the most powerful methods we’ve observed for driving down negative or unwanted results in Google and controlling one’s own listings.
The following are my more advanced suggestions to anyone seeking to “own” their search engine results page:
Cultivate the right social profiles in the right ways
1A big mistake many in the reputation management field make is to register social profiles at dozens or hundreds of sites and point links to as many as possible, hoping that some will take over those top rankings. This actually dilutes the effectiveness of the strategy, as those links could be consolidated across a few powerful profiles instead, often with much greater effect. The general sites I recommend include (in order of profile effectiveness):
That said, another big mistake is presuming that just registering a profile is enough to take over the rankings. My experience has been that participating heavily in the sites (for example, on Flickr, uploading lots of photos and sets, making lots of friends, getting others to comment on your photos, etc.) can be more valuable to help those profiles rank than just earning external links. This is why if you’re passionate and active on a community like DeviantArt, Quora, Armor Games or another niche social site, those can outrank even the big guns of the social world. Regular, authentic participation is key.
Some additional rules to remember with social profiles include:
- Name your profiles correctly. If possible, don’t use pseudonyms, but rather your full first and last name (or brand name) either as a single word or with hyphens.
- Fill out the profiles completely – photos, bio, videos, links, topics, tags – whatever the platfrom offers, take advantage of it fully.
- Leverage your address book or a list of your social media active contacts – friend/follow/connect with them on each of the platforms.
- Make new connections on each platform, too. Use OSE’s top pages tab to find the most linked-to URLs on the social platforms and see if you can comment, connect or otherwise get your profile linked-to from those pages.
- Don’t forget about relevance – if the page looks unnatural or keyword-stuffed, you risk having the profile banned by the admins of the site and jeopardize your ability to authentically participate and make connections with other people, brands and content.
Like everything else in life, nothing worth having comes easy. Invest in your social profiles and they’ll reward you with controllable front-page real estate in the rankings.
Author a universal bio with embedded links
2If you or your company appear in press, media, at events or even receive mentions and references on the web, there’s almost always a stock “bio” or “profile” that’s requested by the publisher. This stock paragraph is a remarkable opportunity to link to your various pages on the web in relevant, appropriate ways.
For example, let’s say I’m crafting a stock profile for SEOmoz to be used whenever we’re a sponsor, participant or reference-source in an event/media piece). I’d go with something like:
SEOmoz is a Seattle based software startup focused on making SEO (Search Engine Optimization) easy and accessible to all marketers. The company’s popular SEO blog serves more than 80K daily subscribers, while their SEOmoz twitter and Facebook accounts interact with thousands more in the social world. For more about SEOmoz, see funding + investors via Crunchbase and job opportunities on LinkedIn.
Notice the multiple links with reasonably good anchor text pointing back to pages we control on the web? This works reasonably well for companies, but is even more effective for individuals, as these “bios” tend to follow you everywhere in your professional/public life. Be sure to follow up when you send these to press outlets, places you’re advertising or events you participate in/sponsor to make sure the links are included. 50% of the time or more, you’ll need to send a reminder email to make sure they’re properly attributing.
Speak, invest, donate & hire
3These four tactics are the most effective ways I’ve seen to get your brand/bio/links propagated across the web. Speaking at events is typically free (other than travel), promotes yourself and your brand, and almost always carries a high quality bio with links. Investing in companies or donating to non-profits or even individuals is similarly effective and can save the travel/pitching/PowerPoint. Even small amounts carry recognition from powerful pages, press releases and media articles to help boost your links.
Hiring is unique, because the ads are often temporary. However, many sources for job ads will maintain a permanent profile so long as you regularly or intermittently have jobs available. If you’re used to posting only on your own site or on Craigslist (where ads do disappear fast), consider leveraging other services and including your company/personal bio when you do. Even if it’s only a contractor position or a role you are considering, these can have a dramatically positive impact (and you might find someone great to add to the team!).
Avoid Wikipedia pages & other free-for-all sites
4Wikipedia pages are powerful, right? Thus it must follow that it’s wise to create profiles/pages about our companies or ourselves on the site to use for reputation management, too? Wrong.
The first rule of reputation management is: Own the listings with pages you control completely. If other people can leave comments, edit your material, insert additional references or otherwise editorially negate your work, don’t bother. I’ve actually had to fight with Wikipedia’s bureaucracy on two separate occasions to have my page there taken down. I have little faith in the accuracy, quality or intentions of their editorial board and with such a powerful profile (my Wikipedia page, the day after it was first created, with no additional external links I could find, ranked #3 for my name in Google and #4 in Bing), it’s not worth taking chances. Continue reading