As an independent consultant, your personal brand is everything. It’s what prompts people to contact you about a consulting opportunity and drives referrals from colleagues and friends. So it’s worth taking a look at something that greatly impacts your brand though you may not realize it: Google. It should come as no surprise that it’s the first thing people turn to when they want to know more about you.
Thus, it’s important for you to know exactly what Google says about you and how it determines the value of your website. Here are five steps to better Google search results.
Improve search results by becoming more active online.
1. Search Thyself
Several times a year, search your name and your company’s name (if you use one) and review the results. Google will pick up photos you post on social media, comments on forums, and things other people have said about you on pretty much any website out there. It’s possible you may be able to convince Google to remove offending items. But it’s more likely you’ll have to counteract bad results by becoming more active online. Your most recent positive posts will push down the older, less relevant ones.
2. Update Your Website
Google gives great weight to currency, so don’t allow your website to stagnate. In addition to blogging, which we’ll talk about in a moment, keep your client list current, refine your home and inside pages from time to time, and share news about your business when it’s appropriate. All of these factor into the algorithms that Google uses to determine your page rank.
Unbiased industry articles that you publish will run higher in search results than sales pitches.
3. Write and Publish
Even more than currency, Google rewards in-depth, quality information. Unbiased industry articles that you publish will run higher in search results than sales pitches, and authors that post regularly are more favored than those who write only intermittently. One warning: Google hates repetition. So, if you post to LinkedIn, don’t copy and paste the same item to your blog or other sites. Instead, pick the channel where you want the post to appear, then write introductions for other outlets and post them with links to the full article.
4. See Yourself as Others Will See You
Many people will find you by searching for what you do, not by your name. So be sure to search the keywords and phrases related to your business. For example, if your consulting business is focused on factory automation in the New England area, search “factory automation New England,” as well as variations on this term, like “factory automation Massachusetts.” If you don’t appear in the results, focus future blog posts on these topics to raise your profile.
5. Know the Basics
I could write a dozen posts on the role keywords play in Google’s search algorithms, but I’ll spare you. It boils down to this: If you want your website and writings to appear when someone enters “factory automation” as a part of their search, you must include the phrase in your site’s copy and in the articles you write. But avoid posting paragraphs that say nothing but “factory automation” over and over again. Google is wise to such tricks. Instead, identify the words and phrases that best reflect your value and use them regularly and in context. Finally, educate yourself about some of the tools available to help your site present itself to Google in the best way possible. Chances are your Web developer knows about them, but it’s always good to have some knowledge of your own. To start, take a look at MarketingProfs, Search Engine Land and the Top Rank Marketing blog.