Building and Protecting Your Personal Brand

A personal brand used to be a luxury. It was for the Scobles of the world and something us normal folk didn’t need to worry about. Those days are gone. Today, building and protecting your personal brand is a necessity.

Your personal brand is your image on the Web. It’s the result of your established authority, attention, Google trust and the ever-so-slight manipulation on your part to ensure the best visions of you are getting the most attention. Building and protecting your personal brand is one of the most important things you can do to further your career and public persona. It’s even more important now that your Google Profile is ranking right up there with the one you created on LinkedIn. Thanks, Google.

If you’re looking for a few quick tips on how you can build a personal brand that you can be proud of, I offer up the following strategy.

Create a Home Base

If you don’t already own your vanity domain, claim it. If your name is already taken, come up with a recognizable alternative that you can work with. Something that is clearly you and that you’ll be able to optimize for your name. Your personal site will become your anchor on the Web and where everything else will link back to. Since this is the site you’ll have the most control over, this is the one you want ranking above everything else.

Once you have the domain, turn it into your personal press page. Include the contact information people will need to get hold of you (name, email, phone, fax, etc) and link out to all your satellite communities (social profiles) on the Web. When you leave comments on blogs, use this site URL as your anchor, not a company profile. In two years you may leave that company. You’ll always own your name.

Grab Some Social Accounts

You don’t need to register with every social network on the planet, but do pick a few of the most popular sites with the biggest ranking potential and set your name as the user name. Grab profiles on sites such as:

If you want to make this process completely painless, will check availability on 120 different social networks to help you ‘thwart social media identity theft’. And for a small fee, they’ll even go out and register them all for you. Truthfully, the service is worth its weight in gold.

Conquer LinkedIn

If you were wondering why LinkedIn wasn’t included in the list above, it’s because it’s special enough to warrant its own category. LinkedIn profiles rank very well in Google and give you another professional outpost to set up shop on. There’s so much opportunity here to fully optimize your profile that it’s a shame more people don’t take advantage of it.

When you create your profile, you’ll want to override the default LinkedIn URL with your name to give it an additional ranking boost. You’ll also want to change the default URLs located in the Links area by selecting “other” instead of “my company”, “my blog”, and enter in whatever anchor text you’d like for each of your sites. LinkedIn still follows all profile links so if you’re smart, you can give yourself a nice added boost here. It also gives you another opportunity to link up and connect all your other social media profiles.

Write Guest Articles

Whether you’re writing a guest post for one of your favorite blogs or submitting them to a directory site like EzineArticles, writing posts for others to publish on their sites helps to establish you as an expert, while giving you another opportunity to build links to your name. If you’re writing for a blog in your niche, look for ways to include your name in the title, while also linking back to your anchor page with targeted anchor text.

If you’re writing for a directory site like Ezine Articles, include your name in the title of the article and also include a link or two to your site, when appropriate. This will help your other sites to rank well, especially if someone decides to pick up your article and publish it on their own site or blog. The EzineArticle directly is a great place to establish authority and build your personal brand, as it’s arguably the most cited article directory on the Web.

Go After Multimedia Content

Take advantage of YouTube and Flickr’s super authority and create videos and images of the (work-friendly) things you’re passionate about and that speak to who you are. Once you create them, be sure to include your name in the title and a link back to your anchor site in the description. Keep the content useful, personable and appropriate for your audience. Let’s leave those home movies of you on vacation for your private account.

Unless you were cursed with the name of a celebrity, building out the profiles listed above will help you conquer that almighty first page of search results. Once the content is created, you have to monitor it. I recommend using Google Alerts to check for new mentions or in case negative content begins creeping up the SERPs. Good luck out there.

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