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How SEO Impacts Personal Branding

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How SEO Impacts Personal Branding

Get your next job by creating an on-line presence

Go on-line and search and you will see many articles about search engine optimisation (SEO) and how websites can be tuned for the algorithms in Google.  There is a whole industry built around SEO, and it continues to dominate headlines, not least every time Google tweaks its software.

The buyer journey starts online now

We all understand that most people start their buyer / customer journey on Google, Amazon or (certainly in my household now) Amazon Echo.  If you are searching for a new gear box, a great beach resort for a holiday, from low-cost items to major purchases such as mortgages, cars or even houses these are the places where you start.  You might then drop off into a more niche site, but eight times out of ten we often start on one of the major search sites. 

Let’s step back from that a second.  According to CEB, people now spend the first 57% of any purchase researching products online avoiding contact with companies and those dreaded salespeople.  This dysfunction has thrown the world of sales and marketing into turmoil and there has even been talk about the end of cold calling.  

How SEO and a personal brand will turn around your career

But what happens if you want to buy a service, for example, “Social Media Expert” or “Window Cleaner in Teddington”, “Head of Personnel” or “CEO with 10 years-experience in construction”?

Now those of us that don’t work at a corporate company, who get paid by people hiring us to write articles or speak at conferences should be pretty good at this.  It puts food on the table at home, after all.  But are we?

My journey

If we go back three years ago, I was made redundant.  With a mortgage, a car loan and a cat to feed, it was a pretty scary situation.  Luckily, I got a new role within 10 days, but at that point I decided that if I was made redundant again, it would be on my terms.  Three years on and I left corporate life six months ago. I’m a best-selling author and haven’t looked back. 

Let me outline the changes I made to my life.

Personal branding is your social tipping point

After I was made redundant, I decided to create a “personal brand”.  Now this isn’t a new term, and the principle is pretty simple: With so many people searching on-line I want people to find me.  Or put another way, I want people to jump to a conclusion about how great I am and how I’m the right person to resolve their problem.  No different from the SEO we might have for a product, but we are talking people here. Let me explain how you can do this.

What is your super power?

What do I mean by your super power?  For example, what if somebody searches for “the best hairdresser in Croydon”, “the best window cleaner in Barnsley”, “A pension salesman I can trust”, or “the best accountant in Sheffield”. If you are the best hairdresser in Croydon or the best window cleaner in Barnsley, how do you make sure that the searcher rings you up?

First you need to decide what you are going to be famous for.  If you are the best florist in Truro, this is pretty easy as you already have an area of focus. But often people get stuck as they want to leap in and start “selling”.  For example, a friend of mine sells software to support personnel departments.  So, he thought that was what he wanted to be famous for, Human Resources (HR) software.  But, when he thought further, he realised he had something else to offer and something less ‘salesy’. In the end he settled on “work – life balance”.

Why you need to be online: The virtual shop window

If we assume that 57% of a sales cycle now takes place online, you need to arrange your social media profile to reflect your “super power”.  Think of social media as your shop window.  As people search they are walking down a virtual high street, looking in windows. If your window is empty then people will just pass you by and move onto the next person.

What social media platforms do I need to be on?

There is such a long list of options and if you search online there are many recommendations. That said, the answer is very simple.  You need to be where your customers are.  If you are Business to Consumer (B2C), then you probably need to be on Facebook, Instagram and maybe Twitter.  If you are business-to-business (B2B) it is likely that most of your clients are on LinkedIn, Twitter and maybe Instagram.  And if your market is largely female, then perhaps Pinterest is the place for you.

How do you create your shop window?

Setting up those platforms, and filling out the details takes a lot of brain power.  Don’t forget when somebody lands on your social media profile, they will make a judgement about you.  And you want them to jump to the right conclusion, so they contact you.  For example, are you funny? Can you cut hair? Would they trust you to repair their expensive racing bike?  Sell you a pension? 

This is where you need to take what is in effect a one-dimensional social media profile and make it “human”.  This is difficult, but not impossible, so here are a few pointers.

Related: Why Social Selling is Like a Gym Membership

Google yourself

First, you need to google yourself.

What did you find?  Just like SEO, people may not know your name so what search terms would future clients use to find you? Make sure you use these terms in your profile, and as hashtags on your Twitter profile.

Some social media basics

  1. Your title: If we take LinkedIn and Twitter as examples, your summary is what appears in a Google search. Google loves LinkedIn as it is content rich, so your title should not say “Master Principle Consultant” as that is pretty meaningless. Instead focus on what you want to be famous for.  For example, “Probably the best ladies’ hairdresser in Croydon”.  Why?  It creates curiosity for the reader and looks non-salesy.  That title needs to drive the reader to want to check you out in more detail and that is where your summary helps.
  2. Your summary: Needs to explain your passion for what you do. Written in the first person, with lots of “I”s, explaining why everything you have done in your life brings you to this point.  If you sell pensions for example, you are motivating people to understand that this is your calling.  You need to demonstrate you are trustworthy and know how to speak in an easy to understand language.  Like an “old school” portfolio, you might want to have examples of your work and or written references.  Make it easy for a person to make contact with you with an email and form telephone number.
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