Your social profiles and the social sharing of career-related content should confirm your personal brand identity to others and provide support for personal name SEO.
Content has power for personal branding.
The social sharing of curated or created content can: (1) show others what you are learning and thinking, (2) define your personal brand identity, and (3) support your personal name SEO (search engine optimization).
After completing your personal name SEO audit to determine the best presentation of your resume name, and reinforcing your personal name claim across the web and at important search trigger points, the next strategic step for personal name SEO involves your social profiles and social activities.
Your social profiles and the content that you regularly social share need career-related keywords and topical SEO.
First, this is important so those who begin with a personal name search will find value added content related to your personal brand identity (how you want others to see you).
Second, this is important so those who begin with a career-related keywords or topics search will find your personal name attached to the value-added content search results.
This is called career-focus confirmation SEO.
“Career-focus confirmation SEO is the process of optimizing your social profiles and social activity with keywords and topics to associate with your personal name and support your chosen career-focus and personal brand identity.”
Let’s begin by thinking about your current or desired career-focus. On a blank page, write what you would currently define as your career-focus.
Most of us would describe our career-focus as a broader career field or occupation. I am an accountant. I am a marketing person. I am an engineer. And, so on.
“A career-focus is a subset of a more broadly defined career field/occupation that defines a chosen area of work and/or study.”
Yet, a career-focus is not:
(1) an industry;
(2) a career objective;
(3) a company or school name; or
(4) a list of keywords.
However, a career-focus is:
(1) best presented as a niche or specialty;
(2) a topic of study and experience (with subtopics);
(3) best when keyword/topics are optimized for search;
(4) confirmable with evidence or proof; and
(5) adaptable or changeable as a personal brand grows with career opportunities.
A career-focus helps define the keyword topics/subjects associated with your personal brand for personal name SEO.
If you do not know your career-focus or have not optimized your career-focus keywords/topics for search, then others will not likely find you or understand the value of having you as a connection.
“Defining your personal brand by your current job/position shows others a lack of strategic career direction.”
Let’s begin this section with a test of your current social sharing activity.
Pick any social media where you are socially active for the purpose of personal branding and maintaining a professional identity, perhaps LinkedIn or Twitter. Go to that social network and your own recent updates feed or social sharing activity. Then ask a friend, co-worker, or spouse to quickly scroll through your recent activity (without looking at your profile) and write or repeat three career-related words (or groups of words) that describe your social sharing content.
What are those three words?
After reviewing my Twitter stream, I think that many would answer: social media, personal branding, and job search (in that order). In my LinkedIn stream, I think many would answer: job search, personal branding, and social media (in that order).
For you to achieve career-focus confirmation SEO, the words, phrases, topics, and visuals displayed in your social profiles and social activity should unquestionably demonstrate and confirm to others what your professional and career-focused personal brand is about.
To do so, will: (1) attract connections with like-minded career interests, (2) show others what you are reading, learning, thinking, and/or creating, thus enhancing your authority and reputation on those topics/subjects, (3) define and confirm to others your desired personal brand identity, and (4) confirm to career stakeholders and potential employers how you want to go forward in your job search or career.
“You are what you social share. Strive to consistently social share the career relevant and not the personal random.”
If you want to be found by employers or recruiters on LinkedIn or to impress important career stakeholders with your career learning and preparation, then you must determine which combination of words or topics will best get your personal name found in a search.
If doing this for a company or product, you would likely begin with Google’s Keyword Planner in AdWords. Kim Garst provides some other commonly used methods for keyword research. However, personal branding may require a different approach.
This approach is called keyword research for personal branding.
“Keyword research for personal branding is the process of discovering the most career relevant keywords and topics for career-focus confirmation SEO.”
Prepare yourself for some keyword and topics research homework. Go to a blank page and make four columns: (1) career-focus, (2) career-related topics, (3) career-related skills, and (4) career-related hashtags.
(1) Career-Focus Keywords Research.
With this keyword research, you are attempting to find the best keywords to describe and support your career-focus.
Begin the first column by writing down your official job title.
The first thought is to simply use your current job title in your social profiles. Good to consider, however, if important others are not searching for those with your specific job title, then your social profiles may not be found. Moreover, many job titles are either too boring, too creative, too specific, or too broad for a search.
You should always consistently use your official job title on your resume and in the Work section of your LinkedIn profile. However, variations are needed in your social profiles/bios.
Whether you are a professional with a specific job title or a student without, for your social profiles/bios it is best to think about the proper keywords to describe your career-focus rather than a job title.
For example, my career-focus involves the teaching, consulting, researching and speaking about social media, particularly for personal branding and job search. My official title is Professor of Marketing, though for my profiles I use “Digital Marketing Professor” because it better describes my career-focus for a keyword topical search. If an accountant, then “tax accountant specializing in financial planning” is a better description for a keyword topical search. If a student majoring in Marketing, then “Marketing student with a career-focus in Sales” is best for a search.
My students are asked to begin their career-focus keyword research with the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This publication describes the various career/occupations and job opportunities available, along with the job outlook, needed skills, and more. Review this resource and make a list of job titles/names (that you are qualified for or will work to qualify). More advanced or specialized careers may require a Google search of “careers in _____ (name of chosen career field or occupation).” Add these keywords to your column one.
The most common mistake by students when defining their career-focus is that they describe an industry or type of company they want to work for rather than a career-focus or type of work they want to do. While adding an industry focus to your social profiles may be good for a job search, that alone is incomplete. You may say you work (or want to work) in the music business, yet it remains uncertain what type of work you do (or want to do) in that industry. Are you in sales, accounting, financial analysis? And, are you using the optimal words so important others can find you in a keyword/topic search?
One quick way to get an idea for better keywords or alternate ways to describe your career-focus is to use a Twitter Search. Type in your career-focus keyword(s), such as social media, then click people. The search results will show you how others have used those keywords in their Twitter profiles. Now go to LinkedIn and complete the same people or jobs. From these two searches, you can add some potential career-focus keywords or phrases to your list in column one.
“Your career-focused social profiles and shared content provide a digital first impression of your value as a potential like-minded social connection.”
(2) Career-Related Topics Keyword Research.
Now, more keyword research is needed to identify the keyword topics and subtopics associated with your career-focus, education, and work experiences.
This keyword/topic research is important for others to see your career confirmation and preparation with the content that you are social sharing. These keyword search results will: (1) define your content curation and/or content creation strategies, (2) help others with like-minded career interests find you and your content, and (3) prompt others to connect and begin a relationship that could lead to a job, career, or client opportunities.
So, begin column two with your first thoughts of topics/subtopics related to your career-focus. In other words, if you were planning to begin a blog about your career-focus, what categories or keyword topics would you write about?
For example, I blog about using social media marketing for personal branding and job search. Thus, every blog post that I write typically falls into the related career-related subtopics of self-marketing, personal branding strategies, skills development, job search, career advancement, personal learning networks, digital marketing, content marketing, blogging, search engine optimization, online reputation management, digital citizenship, and more.
A good place for you to start this keyword research is to return to the Occupational Outlook Handbook and identify the various duties and responsibilities of your chosen or current a job/career. This should provide you with some initial subtopics to add to your list.
Next, return to the Search Twitter box and type in each of your career-focus keywords, go to the People search results, and review several profiles to see what related topics others are adding to their profile. For the Twitter profiles with your same career-focus, you should also scroll thru their updates stream to review what career-related topics and subtopics they are social sharing. Do the same with a LinkedIn people search. Add these career-related topics and subtopics to your list.
These topical search results will guide you in your own social sharing of content and in organizing your personal learning networks (PLN).
A straightforward way to confirm that you have identified some important career topics and subtopics is to visit AllTop.com and search for the availability of blogs on your career-focus. Go ahead and click thru to several of those blogs to see additional categories or subtopics that are most often written about in your chosen career-focus. There you may find a blogroll of recommended blogs on the same subjects. The career-focused blogs that you find in this search will also provide you with a wealth of content to social share while adding to the expertise/authority of your own personal brand.
(3) Career-Related Skills Keyword Research.
Another search that you need to complete is to determine that you are selling yourself with the right keyword skills required by potential employers and used by others to find you in a search.
Go to a favored or known job board (such as Indeed, CareerBuilder, or Glassdoor) and conduct a job search using your career-focus keywords (from your column 1 above). As you scroll thru the search results of job opportunities, click on several of the most interesting and write down the most often repeated skills and qualifications needed for the job. In your list, make the distinction between the skills that you have and the skills that you need to develop or improve.
The logic with this career-related skills keyword research strategy is that the most used skills keywords in these job listings are also the most used skills keywords used by social recruiters and employers when conducting a topical search.
Now, go to LinkedIn>Your Profile>Featured Skills & Endorsements and “add a new skill” to conduct additional skills keyword research. Just add a potential skill (perhaps those found in your previous searches) and LinkedIn will show you related skills most used on their network. Add these skills to your list with a star to represent that they were validated/confirmed on LinkedIn.
For example, my most valuable career-related skills on LinkedIn based on keyword research include social media marketing, personal branding, social media education (recently added to my profile based on this research), social media networking, and others.
(4) Career-Related Hashtag Keywords Research.
As you have experienced, hashtags have become important when social sharing across all social networks. Even LinkedIn, recently joined the hashtag club.
For personal branding, hashtags are for much more than providing humor or hashtag-jacking onto trending topics. Instead, hashtags are used to: (1) strengthen your career-focus confirmation SEO by showing others that you are learning and social sharing career relevant content, and (2) make your social profiles and social shares more easily findable in searches for career-focused topical content.
The best keyword research for career-related hashtags is done on your favored social networks.
Begin by using each of your career topics/subtopics (from columns 1 and 2 above) and using them as a one-word hashtag in a search on Twitter. The drop-down from the search box will provide related suggestions for search. This will tell you which of your career-focus related keywords are often used as hashtags. Clearly, some keywords may be too long for a hashtag and alternatives are needed. For example, my own hashtag keywords research showed me that #SMM is more often used than #SocialMediaMarketing.
This is also a valuable time to return to your previous Twitter people search to review the hashtags that those with a similar career-focus most often use in their social sharing.
Perhaps even better than a Twitter hashtag search is an Instagram hashtag search. The drop-down box in Instagram makes suggestions for related hashtags and shows a count of how often they are made in posts so that you can use the most popular ones.
Additional hashtag keyword research results are found with hashtagify.me and ritetag.com.
Advanced Tip: Hashtags are the way your social shared content is found by others, especially from those that do not follow or connect with you. It is important to consistently use the most popular topical hashtags associated with each of your social shares rather than use generic hashtags that don’t define each social share. For example: the hashtag of #fun or #work is not likely to draw in a career relevant connection as much as the hashtags of #socialmedia, #personalbranding, or #SMM. Hootsuite gives an excellent overview of how to best use hashtags.
Now that you have identified the best keywords for your career-focus, career-related topics/subtopics, skills, and hashtags, the next step is to use them.
You should consistently use your career-focus keywords in all of your social profiles. As with your personal name, what others find on LinkedIn or on Twitter should represent the same you.
Your career topics/subtopics keywords can guide you in the various subjects of content that you should social share in your social networks. Its use will assist in your discovery of career-related content to social share, and more specifically, can guide you through the set-up of a personal learning network.
“A personal learning network (PLN) is a defined and organized group of people that are chosen for potential interaction and as a beneficial resource for continued learning about a preferred topic/subject.”
A digital personal learning network provides support for the planned consumption of content and the curation of content for personal learning and social sharing.
While there are many tools for developing a digital PLN, my favorites are: (1) Feedly, (2) Twitter Lists, and (3) Flipboard.
Feedly is an RSS subscription management tool. In Feedly, you can set-up folders for all of your career-focus topics and subtopics (from column 2). First, visit AllTop.com to find the best blogs on each of these topics. Then, go to Feedly and search for each of these favored blogs and add them to the appropriate topical folder.
Twitter Lists are a way to organize a PLN around those who have the same or similar career-focus as you. In Twitter, you should create a list for each of the topical folders that you have set-up in Feedly. Then, search Twitter to find those that share the best content on each topic and add them to the appropriate topical list so you can follow their tweets.
Flipboard finds and organizes content for the topics of your choosing. Browse the topics suggested and add more specific career-related topics (the same topics as used for Feedly folders and Twitter Lists). Flipboard will find this topical content and present it in an easy-to-read magazine-style format. While not as thorough at finding content on your own with Feedly, Flipboard’s app makes reading content while on the go a breeze.
Your skills keywords are the skills you should make prominent in your LinkedIn profile. You should include your strongest and most career relevant skills in: (1) the Summary as part of your personal brand storytelling, (2) your Work, Volunteer, Projects, and Organizations sections as evidence of what you have learned and developed, (3) the Featured Skills & Endorsements so that others can provide social proof of your qualifications, and (4) the Recommendations section as you guide your recommendation requests as to the skills you would like them to write about for even more social proof or third-party credibility.
Your hashtags keywords are the hashtags you should use in your social sharing across any of the social networks. From your keyword research, you should have tested and confirmed 3 to 5 most often used hashtags related to your career-focus. These are the hashtags you should repeatedly use to label the content that you are social sharing. If you share something and have difficulty using one of these five keyword researched hashtags, then perhaps your social sharing has gotten off career-focus.
For example, most of the content that I social share is labeled with one or more of these popular hashtags: #personalbranding, #socialmedia, #SMM, #contentmarketing, or #jobsearch.
Sometimes, a consistent content marketing strategy is not enough to push the less desirable content about you to lower on the search engine result pages. Thus, requiring a stronger effort to clean up this Google Yourself mess.
In my next blog post, I will write about a personal name search hygiene as part 4 of this personal name SEO for personal branding series.
Others need to find you and the content that you social share.
This requires optimization of your personal name so that important career stakeholders can easily find you by name in a search (personal name SEO).
This also requires that your name is associated with the appropriate career-related keywords and topics so that important career stakeholders can find your social profiles and social shared content that best represents your desired personal brand identity (career-focus confirmation SEO).
Google is your friend, if you optimize.
In three to five words, can you describe the social shared career-related content of your personal brand?
Image credits: Denny McCorkle
This article originally appeared on Digital Self Marketing Advantage and is republished with permission.
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