You always want to look your best… especially in a world where anyone can search for anything and also find anything! The same holds true for both bloggers, businesses, brands and everyone else in between.
With over a billion active sites on the internet and more than half of the world's population now having access to the internet, it's now more important than ever to have a great first impression online. When someone wants to learn more about a business, brand, product or how to do something… what do they do? They search for it through Google of course!
What comes up in the search results is the immediate and first impression that is given. However, Google isn't the only thing you should be thinking about if you want to protect your reputation and look better online. Reviews, social media, search rankings, site content and status updates all play a huge part in the process.
As someone who's had a lot of experience in the world of SEO, reputation management and branding, while also having a great online reputation myself, I wanted to lay out some of the most effective ways you can start looking better online today!
Why? Because there is no better time than right now, and if you want to stand the test of time on the internet, you need to look good in the process!
Understand the Importance of a Good First Impression
A great first impression is so important and it's also something that you can never take away.
A good example of this would be if you went to a movie theatre and saw a preview for a movie. If the preview was amazing, you would definitely want to go see the movie. If it was horrible, you would likely have no interest in it.
Take this same concept and apply it to the online world where most of us live for several hours per day. We can even back these statements up through the infographic stats below provided by industry-leading reputation management agencies.
First impressions aren't just through Google, they are also through your web sites (how they look), the content you write (how well it's written), social media (what you say and do) and ultimately what Google ranks at the top of the search results for your name, brand or products as well.
With all of that said, while you might think you already have a brand and following in place, just think about all of the people who are seeing your name or reading your content for the first time every day. Make sure everything you do online would represent itself as a “great first impression” for anyone who might be seeing it for the first time.
Build a Protective Wall Around Your Brand
While there are many ways to deliver a great first impression and different ways for people to find you online, ranking at the top of Google has to be one of the most important. The reasons for this are simple:
- Google is a trusted authority by the billions of people who use it; what they rank (recommend) matters.
- Ranking at the top of Google is the best way to establish yourself as the source for your name or brand.
- The majority of people that find out about yourself or your brand are likely going to find it through Google.
- Social media marketing, site design, content creation and paid traffic all cost money. Ranking organically in Google is free.
Yes, but this is all easier said than done, right?
Well, kind of… it really depends on what you are trying to rank for.
Ranking at the top of Google for your name or brand should be relatively easy if you know what you are doing and don't have a name that is commonly shared with thousands of other people.
The best way to see all of this in action would be to Google my name “Zac Johnson”. You will quickly notice that I dominate the whole first page for my name. First you will see my own site at ZacJohnson.com, then a few social media profiles, followed by my content and bio profiles on other sites. If you see otherwise, it's likely because Google has an auto-correct in place for “Zach Johnson“, who is the professional golfer! (and my SEO arch-nemesis)
As for what social profiles are easiest and fastest to rank for your name, OnlineReputation.com notes LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Weebly and WordPress seem to work best. Even if you have a site of your own, you should still create additional profiles on these sites as they are all free to use and will help with SEO rankings.
If you want to further establish yourself as an expert or trusted source, you need to rank for your name and all relevant keywords. For a more in-depth guide on how to do this with a blog of your own, click here. When trying to rank your site and your social profiles, be sure to interlink all of your content so they spread link juice between them. Don't just do this with your own sites, you will also want to build relevant links back to them wherever possible as well.
Register Multiple Personal / Brand Domain Names
Another great way to protect your reputation and brand online is to secure your name as a domain. Again, this goes back to how common your personal name is. (most brand names have to be original, so this shouldn't be an issue for legit companies)
When it comes to domain names, all you really need to worry about are .COM, .NET and .ORG. I wouldn't bother with any of the other annoying domain extensions that registrars are commonly trying to push. In most cases they are junk, they usually don't rank (as well) and they definitely won't resell for much money either. If you are still having trouble coming up with a great name for your site, refer to this domain name article.
Follow these three steps for securing domain names and protecting your brand.
- Register the .com, .net and .org variations of your name (if they are available)
- If they aren't available, setup an account with NameJet or Pool and add them to your domain expiration list. I've done this for domain names I never thought I would get, and it's worked amazingly!
- For domain names you absolutely must have, hire a domain broker who can find the person that owns the domain name and approach them for a possible sale. Good domain brokers are expensive, but this service is also offered through registrars like GoDaddy as well.
The important thing to remember here is that once a domain name is gone, it's usually gone for good. If your name as a domain is still available, register it up as soon as possible before someone else does!
Become a Well Respected Leader in Your Niche
The final step of the process is to make sure you put everything into action so you are seen as an authority within your space. For this to be done you should already have your domain name, content that represents your brand well and maybe even already ranking at the top of the search results. If you still aren't #1 in Google, this method will definitely help you out.
While many bloggers and online marketers think it's best to create content for ONLY their own sites, this is where they are going wrong. If you want to rank in Google and be seen by millions of people, you need to get out there on social media and on other relevant websites and blogs as well.
Below you can see a few different roundups and expert collaborations I've recently taken part in.
- 7 Must-Have Apps for the Busiest Entrepreneurs
- 37 SEO Experts Those in the Know Follow
- How to Make Money Blogging
The benefit to each of the contributions above is that whenever someone reads through this list, they will see my name, which will bring increased authority along with it. Guest blogging on other sites, getting interviewed for expert roundups and contributing content to high authority sites is simply one of the best ways to establish yourself as an expert. An extra added benefit is that every time a new article like the ones above is published, it also increases linkbacks and mentions to my site as well — thus helping it rank higher in the search results.
There is No Better Time to Improve How You Look Online!
The best time to start working on your brand and how you look online was 10 years ago. The second-best time is right now.
If you seriously want to have a long-term business, brand and following on the internet, you need to work hard to stay above the competition. Having a trustworthy brand and ranking at the top of the search results for your brand is a great way to get there. If you aren't currently monitoring your personal and brand name online, be sure to use these tools immediately.
Follow these quick tips and make sure you implement them all the way through. I see way too many people focusing “only on content” and when you are competing with over a billion sites online, that simply isn't going to get the job done.
- Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers, and Grow an Incredible Brand
- Ten Things Every Successful Entrepreneur Knows that the Rest of the World Doesn't: Ten Easy Steps to Create a Successful and Sustainable Business
- The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure