Would you like Google to trust your business enough to rank it on top of your competitors?
Obviously, you would.
Then it’s time to start working on your personal brand:
Why Personal Branding Matters
One of the most common questions I get from clients and other agency founders:
“Why would I spend time establishing my personal brand if all I need is to promote my business?”
Well, there are many reasons. “People prefer to buy from people” is one of them that has long turned into a marketing cliche (that’s not to say it isn’t true, though).
In most cases and industries (the marketing niche included), that stands true: Knowing the founder and their story instills trust in a business and its product.
But there’s another big reason to build the personal brand(s) behind a business: Google!
Google knows brands and people. That’s what they call “entities,” and entities make up the core of Google’s Knowledge Graph (i.e. what Google knows about the world).
Google’s Knowledge Graph runs any search. Thanks to it, Google knows that if you type something like “ice fire” in the search box, you may not really need to find pages that mention those but instead you are likely interested in books and authors:
Being part of Google’s Knowledge Graph comes with many advantages, from being more trusted in the eyes of Google to being able to rank for all kinds of searches that you may not have optimized for. That’s how I was able to rank for [top SEO experts] even though my own business site isn’t really ranking for it anywhere in top 100:
Notice how I managed to brand my profile picture in a way that hints at the connection to the company I work for.
Building a personal brand takes time and effort but it helps Google make all the necessary connections and consequently trust you and your business more. And with Google’s trust comes higher rankings and better organic visibility.
Here’s how to start working on your personal brand, one step at a time:
1. Create a Solid About Page (or Even a Site)
There’s no need to get corporate when you put together the About section on your website. It’s not a board meeting, nor is it a resumé and there’s no investor to impress. People just want to get to know you better.
Giving some personal background followed by a How [your business] Was Born story will engage readers, and get them interested in your brand.
- Write down your personal story of how your business came about. Start by giving some personal background and follow by telling the story of your business and your goals and vision for the future.
- Use the story in your site’s About sections and use a concise version in social media profiles.
- Business sites could have an About Our Team page where the focus is on the business’s story, followed by short bios of team members.
- Add a section listing the (e)books and whitepapers you release.
Consider setting up a separate site to tell your personal story. With time, this will help you better control your branded search results. If you are not sure which domain to register, try this cool brand name generator called Namify. It will suggest some cool names, and even help you create a matching brand identity:
You can do more with your personal brand than just tell your story. For example, you can set up an industry newsletter and become known for it. Your personal branding may turn into a separate project, so set up a separate site just in case!
Another useful tool to mention here is called About.me which helps individuals brand themselves online more easily. You can easily create an eye-catching page with your photo, a short description of your personal and professional background, links to your social networks and to your email.
Since these networks are highly ranked by search engines your personal page is likely to get a top position when people look up your name. It’s also much handier to give your personal page link to others instead of all your social media links and URLs. All these networks have free plans and some offer premium plans as well.
- Go to About.me and set up your personal web page within minutes. Use a high-resolution photo of yourself.
- Link to your personal page from your social profiles and from your websites.
- Add the personal page link to your email signature and to your business card.
If you upgrade your account on About.me, you will be able to use your own domain. This is helpful for the reasons I explained above (more positions to hold for your brand-driven search).
2. Interview and Get Interviewed
Expert interviews are a great way to let your personality shine through. Whether you conduct the interview or you’re the one answering questions, interviews allow you to expose a different, more intimate, side of your personality and to show your expertise.
Audio or video interviews work best because your audience can see and hear you which makes for a much more personal experience.
- Use your social network, forums and top users lists to find thought leaders and influencers in your industry.
- Contact a few influencers and ask to interview them, preferably face to face, via Skype video or phone.
- Post the interview on your website and social networks. Ask the interviewee to do the same.
- Contact relevant radio shows and podcast owners and present yourself as a guest expert willing to get interviewed.
- Be forthcoming when asked to be interviewed. Mention your willingness to be interviewed on your About page, media kit and social profiles.
- If you have a team of employees, interview them, encourage them to get interviewed as well and showcase the interviews on the company’s website.
The awesome thing about interviewing niche experts and being interviewed by them is that this effort places you next to those experts in Google’s Knowledge Graph.
In other words, Google starts associating you with those already established entities. If you want to analyze currently present semantic associations of any existing entity, search this name through Text Optimizer, a semantic analysis tool that uses Google as their data source:
3. Get Close and Personal
Even if you’re an introvert sharing even a fraction of your private life can take your business to new heights. You may feel like you always want to appear “professional” to your audience, but this approach could actually be keeping business away from you.
Some of the most successful bloggers I know, such as Leo Babauta, Chris Brogan and Steve Pavlina don’t draw a clear line between their private and business life. How much you are comfortable to share is up to you, but the benefits will be enormous: More people will approach you and your business because they will see you as a friend and as someone they can identify with.
And no, it’s not about telling everybody what you had for breakfast. (Unless it’s really special!)
- An effective place to inject personality into your site and engage is in your post’s intro. Rather than talking in third person, tell a quick story about yourself. Share an experience or a thought you’ve had and then flow naturally to your subject matter
- Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are great for combining personal and business affairs. A personal insight, a joke, a photo of your daughter’s first day at school or even a close up of that amazing cake your wife has just baked – these all work well within reason
- Sharing details such as your age, your place of origin or residence (you don’t need to give your home address!) can also help break the ice
- For a business website combine blog posts about your office life, showing photos from the office and telling some non-work-related things. For example: A charity event you’ve organized, the Hawaii retreat you’ve been to, the new office you’ve moved to
- Humor works great for showing you as a person. No need to be a comedian, but it’s okay to be funny at times or sarcastic at others. Even laughing at yourself, ranting or putting out a controversial take once in a while can work.
4. Come up with Lead Generation Strategy
Just like with any other site, an important question here is always: “What do I want people to do on my personal website or page?”
Make your About page part of the buying journey
You don’t want them to come, read and leave. They will barely remember you after that. Your traffic needs to be engaged, whether it’s branded traffic (those people typing your name in the search box) or just any cold clicks (people who have no idea who you are).
You need to always watch people come to your site and then proceed forward. Knowing means understanding. The better you understand your site visitors, the better you can serve their needs and subsequently convert them into customers.
Finteza is the tool I use to monitor and analyze on-site conversions and build sales funnels. It can help you run A/B tests and find your best-working CTAs, highest converting pages and most engaging page layouts.
This is how you tie SEO and sales by making sure all your efforts result in higher conversions and consequently higher income.
Set up alternative CTAs
Now, your personal brand is not exactly your business. People who are interested in your founder’s story may not be the right audience to try and sell your product to. As you watch how your traffic is interacting with your personal story or personal website.
It may be a good idea to come up with alternative CTAs to better utilize that opportunity and convert those clicks. For example:
- Invite those visitors to request your expert quote
- Add a CTA on how to contact your press team
- Encourage those people to follow you on social media or subscribe to your newsletter
- Invite them to invite you to a video interview. It may be a good idea to let your press contacts schedule a video/audio interview with you right away. Tools like Appointfix will help you set these CTAs up by allowing your site visitors to request a certain time slot for a call or chat with you.
Personal branding has lots of benefits – from protecting your online reputation to better organic visibility. It does come with some challenges – including extra time and money investments as well as the need to make your personality and personal life open to the world (at least to some extent).
When I was trying to decide whether I want my audience and readers to know more about me, I took some time and read other niche experts and influencers. At the end I decided that I wanted to work on my personal brand and I am surely glad I did. That opened up so many opportunities and introduced me to so many people that I was able to turn my life around and build several more brands up. I hope this guide will encourage you to do the same!