Introduction to Personal Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of creating or improving content to make sure it shows up as high as possible in web search results for the right keywords (in the case of personal SEO, your name).

1. Why Is Personal SEO Important?

Short and simple, search engines make mistakes.

Every time someone conducts an online search, search engines like Google and Bing use complex algorithms with hundreds of factors to make sure the most relevant results show up highest—but sometimes they make mistakes.

You probably know somebody who has made an entire personal website yet it doesn’t show up as a top result in searches for their name. There are a number of causes for poor results, such as a poorly structured page which makes it difficult for the search engine to understand. Other times, the site does not seem as credible as it actually is. Worst of all, sometimes the search engines isn’t even aware the content exists.

2. How Does SEO Help?

By employing general SEO tactics, or using a tool like our online reputation management tool you can make sure all of your best content is as search engine friendly as possible. This means your best content will be:

  • Quickly found by Google
  • Structured so search engines can quickly tell it’s about you
  • Linked to and stored in credible databases and directories across the web so search engines know it’s trustworthy

What Factors Do Search Engines Use to Rank Content?

Search engines employ algorithms with hundreds of factors to determine how to rank results. However, there are a few mainfactors you should always keep in mind:

1. On Page SEO Factors:

These are factors within the actual page. The good news is, if you own the content, you have direct control over these:

Frontend & Backend Structure/Architecture: Any content on the web is supported by a number of frontend and backend computer languages or code—things like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and so on—which communicate information to the search engine and your computer. However, problems arise when people create great content, but it is so poorly structured that search engines are unable to properly communicate with the website and therefore have no idea what the page is really about. There are many things you need to be mindful of as you structure your code–the sitemap or navigation of the page, the history of the domain, the placement of headings and dozens of other things.  It can seem daunting, which is why we wrote this series to walk you through the most important parts. (It’s also why we created an online reputation management tool that takes care of it all for you.)

Relevancy: This one is simple—keep your content updated. If your content hasn’t been updated in a long time, search engines start to view it as irrelevant. (Tip: by adding a social stream to your site you can keep your site updated because your status updates from places like Facebook or Twitter will automatically be posted on your BrandYourself profile page.)

Keyword/content: When a search engine visits your page, you want to make sure it quickly understands which words and phrases are the most important—what we call keywords. For example, if you want to rank for “YOUR NAME”, but “YOUR NAME” isn’t written anywhere on the page, a search engine would have no idea to rank it for that. There are two important elements to keep in mind:

Placement: There are certain places on the page that  search engines consider more important than others, so that’s where you want to include YOUR NAME.  These include outwardly visible areas–the URL, page headings, bolded words and anchortext—as well as areas in the backend– title tags, heading tags, meta-tags, and descriptions. You want to include YOUR NAME in all of these places.

Density: Search Engines also take into account the density of these keywords throughout the site, to make sure any content on the page lines up with those words.  This way, you can’t simply stuff keywords, like YOUR NAME, in those important places, even if the page is about something entirely different.

2. Off Page SEO Factors:

These factors aren’t directly tied to the content on your page and are meant to gauge the page’s outside credibility. Since you can’t directly control these factors, it’s important you dedicate time to the most important ones:

Incoming Links: Search engines consider each link to a site as a “vote” for that site to show up higher. The more places that link to your site, the higher search engines will rank it. However, the credibility of the link is also important. For example, a link from CNN.com is weighted more heavily then a link from a random no-name site. This is one of the most important factors in SEO. It’s a time consuming but very important step, which is why our online reputation management tool helps you streamline the process.

Social Sharing: Sharing a page across social networks is one of the easiest ways to build credible links. If you share a relevant, valuable page, people will pass it around, signaling a great deal of credibility to search engines.

Avoid Black-Hat Techniques That Get Your Content Banned

OOP (Over-Optimization Penalty): Many search engine marketers are tempted to try to “game” search engines and create an artificial edge by abusing the above factors. Fortunately, search engines are smart, and these “black hat” methods are quickly caught and harshly penalized (banned from results).

These include:

  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Cloaking
  • Link Stuffing

We don’t condone these tactics, nor are they effective, so I won’t bother explaining how they work. However, it’s important you don’t accidentally employ anybody who uses them. As a basic rule, if  you ever encounter a service provider or a product that guarantees quick results, chances are they use black hat techniques and you should take your money and run. It’s not worth doing anything or working with anyone that gets you permanently blacklisted by Google and other search engines. (Note: Most honest SEO tactics take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to start showing results).

Conclusion:

While all of this may seem daunting, you can start one step at a time and know that just by understanding the above you have a far deeper comprehension of how search engines and SEO function than the average person. Be sure to check out the other articles in this series as well to support you in your quest for search engine domination!

Check out the other parts of the series: