Ever heard of the word SEO or search engine optimization?

You usually hear this from marketers, bloggers, or writers. It is simple: You make whatever you have on the web, be it a blog or an online portfolio, as searchable and visible as possible so that when somebody looks for it on the web (through the search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing) your stuff gets to be displayed on the front pages of what we call the search-engine results pages (SERPs).

The primary search-engine we use is Google, so ranking in Google is every marketer’s first goal.

Search-engine optimization (SEO) is usually used for driving leads, sales, and traffic to business websites. But, it can also help you build your personal brand.

Search engine optimization (SEO) can help you build your personal brand. Click To Tweet

That’s right. Building a digital footprint on your behalf as early as possible will greatly help your career in the long-term. The best time to start creating your digital personal brand is upon entering college, or as soon as you figure out what you want to do in life (i.e. career goal, professional objectives).

How SEO Will Help Your Career

Search engines like Google have been playing an important role in the recruitment process. As a professional, you must be mindful of your digital presence and turn it to your favor. You have to ask: When a headhunter or a future boss Google my name, will they be able to find my website? If they do, what kind of persona will they find? Will my personal brand work for me, or against me?

In short, your digital footprint is the totality of your resume, calling card, and most importantly, your reputation. But worry not! You can take charge of what headhunters will find about you from an online search.

SEO Will Help You Stand Out

We strived hard to excel in school. We conquered recitations, projects, and examinations. Sleepless nights are not new to us. Eyebags are our constant company. Indeed, we invested so much time, and energy just to get good grades and get the job we dream of.

But good grades and great skills alone will not cut it. You need to stand out in order to win the competition. This means being unique and finding a way to get on the radar of future employers and head-hunters.

Here’s how to begin taking control over your digital footprint and making it work for your career:

Google Yourself

Look yourself up on Google (I know you do this all the time. Harhar). Now, what do you find?

A word to the wise: Most probably, there are about only two basic queries a recruiter can do with your name in Google: (1) To look for your full name (Slye Joy Serrano);

Slye Joy Serrano 1

You may perform Boolean search to refine your search. In this case, I removed all results from Facebook (by adding “-facebook.com” to the query) because I know it will definitely come up in the search-engine results page (SERP).

And, (2) to look for what you are good at by searching for your name plus a relevant topic (Slye Joy Serrano writer). 

Slye Joy Serrano 2

Searching for your name plus a relevant area of expertise will show web pages where you are mentioned together with your area of expertise.

The goal of this drill is for you to assess if you look professional enough online… and that you are indeed what you say you are.

If you want a career in SEO for example, I bet it would be bad if somebody searches for “[your name] seo”, and the SERP will display zero results about your name vis-a-vis SEO. The recruiter will definitely doubt your authority in the field.

Remember to always assess how the world looks at you in the digital world. Optimize your site for search-engines if you have one. Optimizing it will make it sure that your website gets to the first page of the SERP. 

Strive for Thought Leadership and Authority

Showcase your skills and expertise by talking about it and showing it to people. The best way to do that online is by blogging. So, get a domain name, build a blog, and decide what you want to be known, say an IT professional with focus on cybersecurity.

The key to establishing (and standing out) thought leadership or thought authority is by becoming a reliable, authoritative, and consistent source of high-quality (clear, concise, compelling) content, and well-founded insights, say you blog about how the gambits of cybersecurity thrill you, and what you think of its prospects.

For starters, keep in mind your audience. What is your prospective audience? What are their pains or problems? What are their aspirations or desires? How will they benefit from you? What will be your role in helping them? Or, where can you add value?

TIP: Tools like Google Keyword Tool and Google Trends can help identify popular content and suggest questions and needs that you can solve.

Strive For Clarity and Quality

Focus on delivering high-quality content. Remember that the internet is full of information – mediocre articles, and short-lived news tidbits – and is extremely short of sensible knowledge. Strive for content that is hard to copy, or outdo; that will take work, a lot of it. A content that is hard to copy, or to outdo, is without debate, a high-quality content. It must be well-researched, informative, and well-presented. Use the language game or language register your target audience will understand. 

Strive for Consistency

If you are a cybersecurity professional and you decided to start blogging about it, stay focused on that topic or niche. Build your thought leadership on what you are, and what you intend to do, in this example, as an IT professional focusing on cybersecurity.

Use an editorial calendar to plan and schedule your blog posts. Set due dates and publication dates for each piece of content. This will help you to stay organized, and to keep a logical flow of your postings.

Be Compelling

Remember that your goal in establishing online thought leadership is to make a strong impression on people who will most probably read your resume or research your background.

Your thought leadership will help you send a clear and complete picture of your expertise, your experience, your skills, and most importantly your value. This is a vital goal of achieving a strong personal brand will jumpstart your career.

Delineate the value you can add. A more opinionated and informed thought leader is a more compelling one. Stay abreast with the trends and updates in your chosen field and learn everything you can.

Be Mindful

Be mindful of whatever you do or say online. How you communicate and behave online will shape other’s impression of you. Be a leader, not a digital troll.

Remember that you are building a good online reputation, and here’s what you need to remember, in a nutshell:

  • Build your personal brand.
  • Become a trusted advisor.
  • Be known as a reliable source of high-quality information.
  • Be consistent. Stick to your topic(s).
  • Think like a brand, but act as a human.
  • Network actively, offline, and online. Don’t wait until you need to.

I hope you find this useful. If you have anything else in mind, or if you want to share anything about building an online persona, please leave a comment below.