How I Became the #1 Personal Brand Strategist on Google
3 weeks ago I typed the words, “personal brand strategist” into Google. It had been a few days since I’d checked my standing and I hadn’t been thinking much about it. I typed p-e-r-s-o-n-a-l, then brand, then strategist, and in 0.44 seconds the words “Anna Vatuone” appeared. I could hardly believe it. I didn't even have to keep scrolling or click onto page 2, or 3, my name was right there--no searching necessary. Shocked.
I picked up the phone and called my friend Erin. My heart was racing.
It had occurred to me that I’d been searching for weeks and hadn’t cleared my cookies yet. So there was a chance my results could be biased. Erin picked up the phone and confirmed what I saw. Sure enough, there I was. (Erin is a marketing specialist who understands SEO exceptionally well; every time I had any developments on Google she was always the person I told first.)
I have owned the domain annavatuone.com since October of 2018. Back then it was merely just a blog with a few posts about my entrepreneurial journey. However, in March, I became a full-time personal brand strategist: this is when I noticed a significant shift in my standing on Google. It’s also when I took on more clients, produced more content, and implemented more strategies into my business on a consistent basis.
The journey to the first page of Google has definitely felt slow moving at times, but all things considered, I was able to do this pretty quickly.
I want to preface this article but I stating that I am not an SEO specialist, but rather I would like to share with you what has worked for me in hopes that it will help you on your professional journey.
Here’s what I did:
Profiles & Titles
The first step of personal branding is to create and possess ownership of as many social profiles as possible. This means Medium, LinkedIn, Quora, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.. This list goes on. This is important for two reasons: First, your name/handle is precious real estate on the internet. You want that name to be yours, especially when your audience could accidentally confuse another profile for you and your message. No no no. Not good.
Second, once you have ownership of your profiles, you want to establish your online presence on every medium that is available to you. This is personal branding rule #1. Get yourself out there and spread your message wide and far! When I was first starting out--this is exactly what I did. I created social profiles everywhere and anywhere I possibly could. Except, I went one step further by adding my “official title” into the field where my name lived.
The first place I tested this strategy was Instagram. (Erin gave me the idea). Because my own name is my instagram handle (@annavatuone), I felt that using the name slot for my title worked for me. This way, if anyone clicked on a tagged photo or searched the term “personal brand” I would be sure to come up.
People would know what I did before they even clicked onto my profile.
This has worked so well on Instagram that I decided to implement this strategy onto other channels like Pinterest and Twitter. Not only do I believe this has been the main reason for my high ranking on Google, it has also kept all of my channels looking super cohesive and consistent.
Now, I had always heard that video was good for SEO but I had no idea it would be this effective. One evening I was playing around with my website (the one bad thing about being a web designer is that I am ALWAYS tweaking my site, I am never satisfied! lol) and opted to input something more engaging and dynamic on the front page. I found a stock video*, uploaded it to Vimeo, and placed it on my Squarespace website.
Done and done.
The next day I googled, “personal brand strategist” and I was stunned to see that I had moved from the second page to the first page overnight. I couldn’t believe it.
Moral of the story: video is king. Use it everywhere and on every page. Plus, from a design perspective, it gives your website such a cool and engaging look.
*I also noticed higher conversion rates after adding video.
The best personal brands are those that infuse personal
passions with professional expertise.
As a personal brand strategist, I help my clients develop a clear and concise message surrounding exactly what they LOVE and what they KNOW. It’s the combination of these two components that make up a powerful personal brand; ideally, the brand adopter will always benefit just as much as the brand creator. How? Through content that is valuable, enjoyable, and informative.
A centralized theme and message is an essential building block for anyone’s personal brand. It’s what allows you to build community and foster new relationships stemming from your personal network. It’s also how you attract like-minded people who will ultimately become your biggest supporters and what we marketers like to call, “lifetime customers.” These are the people who believe in what you believe in, enjoy the same interests, and find the same work interesting. How do you attract these people? You stick to your mission. You ask yourself WHY.
Why am I posting this?
Why am I using this platform?
Why do I want to build my personal brand?
Once you’ve found the answers to these questions: share & repeat.
When I set out to build my personal brand I wasn’t thinking so much about SEO (perhaps I should’ve been.) I was determined to identify my mission, spread my message, and bring value to my audience across a multitude of channels while keeping it consistent.
Because I wasn’t thinking about SEO, my rise to the top of the page came as a surprise to me because I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. It doesn’t have to be that way for you.
I used to think that being on the first page of Google for anything meant that your SEO had to be in top-top shape. Now, I know that Google rewards those who are clear and concise, purposeful and consistent; those who stick to their mission.
Some could argue that Google rewards those who build their personal brand ;)
*What I would’ve done differently if I had the opportunity to start over*
I absolutely would’ve changed my title to “personal brand consultant” as this is a more widely searched term than strategist. “Strategist” may have been the easier word to rank for, however.
I’m currently working hard to rank on the first page for both.
It’s important to note that when I am working with clients I always do significant market research before selecting the perfect title for their brand. (And you should, too). Don’t choose something so off-base that no one will search for it, yet also remain unique and authentic to who you are and what your mission is. This is VERY important when first starting out. Choose wisely, because as you can see, it’s meant to be used in conjunction with your name on every social profile.