How to Leverage Personal Brand to Rank Your Business

by on September 14, 2010 | posted in Linkable Asset Creation

Pa – pa – pagination.

Yes, pagination sounds like a next generation rap group, but for us SEOs, we know it as something more important – a way to proper flow link juice, organize webpages, and get our website indexed. As it comes to personal branding, the practice is largely ignored – and for many, it’s a huge chasm of missed opportunity.

When you’ve successfully branded yourself and built yourself as a name within technology, mentions will start to flow in. You’ll get talked about in numerous blog posts, you’ll start wishing your Google Alert had a contents page, and likely, girls will start smiling at you when you walk by – mostly because they know. Yes, they know. Ask them.

You’ve got it.

You might have it, yes, but what else are you missing? It’s important cousin – a brain.

With strong personal brand comes a strong opportunity, one that can bring you benefit more than through simple job opportunities, connections and smiling women. Personal brand can get your businesses’ website ranked – for more than just your first and last name.

About that About Page

Your business probably has an “about page”, and hopefully, within that, it has a team page that details some tidbits about each of your companies’ personalities. That’s cool, really, it is. I’m happy for you.

:)  <– That’s a smiley face.

That’s awesome – but – if this page isn’t properly paginated, you’re doing yourself a big disservice. What I mean by properly paginated is that each team member has its own, separate URL – and isn’t just listed bullet by bullet on one page. This URL should use their first and last name – for obvious reasons – so it ranks well for said name.

But why, you ask. Why waste my time creating new URLs when I can create one ugly, long page with every employee’s bio?

Simple, sir/maam. Links. Rankings. Money.

Aaron Wall

Link Tendencies and the Personal Brand

If you’ve got a strong personal brand and you’re getting mentioned, bloggers have many ways of linking to your website. Firstly, they will try and find a website that is perennially associated with who you are. For me, it’s this one – because it’s my first and last name. I will always, firstly, get linked to here.

It is the natural psychological tendency to strongly associate my website’s home URL with me, even if it has little biographical information about who I am – because it uses my biological name.

Standard.

But what if isn’t? Then, identification can shift. In example, Aaron Wall is unanimously associated with SEOBook. But the nature of the website doesn’t particularly give it the biographical associations a blogger often wants when they throw in the Aaron Wall link.

Hottdamn – did I just link to Wikipedia and not SEOBook? Yes, I did. Because I didn’t feel sufficiently fulfilled by linking to SEOBook’s about page – mostly because it’s an appropriation of other people in the company, and firstly, a salespage for their offerings. Admittedly, SEOBook is different because it’s largely just Wall (or public perception is as such), so his about page may get more love than a normal one. But for the normal, decent sized company, people aren’t going to want to link to your businesses’ about page with eight bios so people can see information about you. They want a biographical source, and also, one that is also associated with you.

Thus, they look to this equation when choosing what page to look to:

Biographical Information x Personal Brand Association

Whichever page, in their eyes, has the highest computation for this equation, will get linked to when they want to give people biographical information about your brand. About pages that aren’t paginated effficiently and list an entire company on one page will lower the personal brand association.

This equation varies depending on the person, who can weigh each factor differently – but the variables are the same. People like Wikipedia, and will often link there if they see it in the first page of your results. But, the better and more solid your own about page and information is, the more likely they’ll link to it. And, of course, we all know about SERP clickthrough rates – if you get your about page in the top three results for your name, the odds are they’ll choose it before some other shoddy source that says you like to play basketball on weekends.

When you have no about page and no personal website, people are put in a conundrum. Sometimes they’ll choose Linkedin – or god forbid – they’ll use your Twitter. Look at SEOMoz’s Ben Hendrickson for example – if SEOMoz hadn’t created an About page for him, people would be relegated to linking to his LinkedIn. HIS LINKEDIN!!

I’m amazed by this – how can people sleep at night wasting all that linkjuice!?

Deep Blue Links

I can hear your counterarguments already – and let me say this – please read the whole post before you start acting like such a #%)*#. I’m ready for your Q&A session.

You might think that your getting people to link to your website’s about page over your actual page is a huge waste – cause you want that link juice to go straight to the homepage. WRONG. It is the natural journalist’s tendency to offer the complete story – sometimes, that takes two links, sometimes, it takes three. In very few situations would anyone ever, say, link to Rand Fishkin’s bio in a post without also linking to SEOMoz homepage directly. Because it just doesn’t make much sense in the way it informs the reader. Also, some people have stronger personal brand associations than company associations (such as Chris Brogan and his company New Marketing Labs)– so, by creating a strong about page on a company site over a personal one, you differ some links over to the business you want ranking.

However, if you don’t really have a biographical source available to go with your associated website, you will often force the content creator to minimize this selection to only one page – your business. Or, they’ll go to a second tier source like your Twitter, one that you should frankly care less about getting linked to – a nice link is better than a few extra followers any day, and those can often come indirectly.

So, by creating a nice, solid about page on your company’s website that will rank in the top three of search results for your own name by including it in the URL, you dramatically increase the likelihood you will get additional deeplinks to your website every time someone mentions you in a post.

Similarly, it’s a good way to get links from people on your internal team. If you have a strong team with numerous well-branded employees, you’ll naturally attract this activity by creating this for your workers.

Your workers will want to link to their about page on their own websites, even if they don’t have a strong personal brand. Maybe they’ll use it on their Twitter if they don’t have their own website, which will in term help boost your businesses’ own brand. And occasionally they’ll get mentioned as well, especially if you encourage people to build their own brands externally – something you should support and actively nurture.

Oh Wait, There’s More – The Good Stuff

Hold up – I’m just getting started. Here comes the good part. I didn’t think of this because I frequently saw company about pages unpaginated. I thought of this because there’s a big opportunity going unharvested – using these new, fresh links to your about pages to help your website rank for the terms you want it to rank for.

Now that you’ve done the pagination thing and made an about page with your name in the URL, make it something to be proud of. The better it is, the more likely people will link to it – this is especially important the bigger a brand you are – and the more competing “about” pages vying for those links.

Once you’ve done that, do the important part – link internally, in the body content, and do so with the anchor text you want. Try to make this natural, but don’t worry too much about it – especially if you’re an SEO. We’re snake oil salesmen for Christ’s sake – it’s expected.

Take, for example, aforementioned Ben Hendrickson’s page. Dude has 416 links pointing to his bio – but he doesn’t have one internal link used in the body content. Wouldn’t it make pretty natural sense to throw in a link to the SEO Tools page with that exact anchor text? After all, Hendrickson was instrumental in their creation, and the links coming in are undoubtedly super-topically relevant for that term. That might go a decent ways towards ranking first for that keyword – especially when we know about the Reasonable Surfer model, and how Google now views in-content links as more important than header, footer, and sidebar links.

Where's the links?!?

It’s possible that Google already picks up SEO Tools in SEOMoz’s header in this case first and rules the point moot, but it seems, given the model, that some value has to be placed in placing an in-body internal link with identifying anchor text. And even if it is seen as secondary text, SEOMoz – or any company with employees with strong personal brands – could find other ways to splice in internal links that are important, but not explicitly linked to in the main navigation.

The Protaganists

There are a few internet marketers doing this stuff, and doing it well. In the effort of citation and also providing good examples (since my website is not one), please see below. Revel in the internal links. Link to their about bios. And their websites. More. Deeplinks. Money. Traffic. Fun.

The Perpetrators

So, now’s the time where I get to call out/suggest this implementation for many top SEOs with strong personal brands – and also, give them more link juice to encourage said implementation.

Many people are missing the mark, and as such, missing out on some sweet link juice. And although sweet, link juice is 100% sugar free – so, definitely – it’s totally good for you. I have excluded many recognizable SEOs who don’t follow above practices because they seemingly don’t care about ranking their websites for any large keywords or have no need to – and as such, they have been ignored on this list. It’s also entirely possible that the below people feel similar, however, with some deduction I feel the opposite. Or, feel they should feel the opposite.

SEOMozers

Outspoken Media

Blueglass

Miscellaneous

Personal Brand – It Makes You More Than Just a Sex Symbol

A strong personal brand has many advantages. Until now, one benefit of the status has largely gone unharvested in internet marketing. But aha – opportunity knocks! And it’s not just for the big boys, either – they just have the most to gain. Even if you only manage 20 or less mentions a year of your name, they add up. Every link counts – and the ones you get in the internet marketing sector are from largely highly reputable, trusted domains – and thus, very worth the effort it takes to fully benefit from them.

SO, you now have an action plan.

  • Create an about page for your business.
  • Paginate the about page with seperate URLs for each employee.
  • Have each employee create their own, informative, personalized page.
  • Throw internal links in each personal bio as it seems relevant.
  • Promote your personal brand.
  • Profit.

That’s it. Simple, right? Now, let’s go get them links, and from there, get them ranks.

  • http://www.sugarrae.com Rae

    First off, this is a great refresher post… a lot of people overlook the obvious, so before I continue on I want to say I agree with your points… thus why we have separate about pages for each team member at Outspoken Media. I wanted to get that out of the way to not detract from the value of the information in this post before saying the following…

    But then you made assumptions that some people, including me, were “missing the mark” when we were attempting “not to.” So I’d like to answer that.

    First, you specifically chose to use my Outspoken Media profile as an example, when you know that the about page on Sugarrae.com has more links and is ten times more known as my personal brand. And that site suffers from exactly what you described above with Aaron – a ton of links (try 20K plus) to the homepage rather than the about page. But, even with that said, my about page on Sugarrae has more links than the Outspoken about page. And on the Sugarrae about page I certainly do link, within content, to Outspoken pages… the homepage and the about page has more internal and external juice to pass than my Outspoken about page… and, they’re external, not internal links to other Outspoken pages. I just wanted to point out you purposely overlooked and didn’t mention or refer to the pages you found ranking not only number 1, but also number 2 for my name because they didn’t serve to “make an example of me.” #justsayin :)

    Secondly, Outspoken Media was outed before our planned launch date because we were featured in the Wall Street Journal that ran almost two weeks earlier than planned. That meant getting a site up as fast as humanly possible. Which we did… and have been slammed with client work ever since. The cobbler’s children have no shoes to an extent. Internal cross linking wasn’t super important for a brand new site that wasn’t dependent upon the engines for clientele… contact forms and content was. The funny thing is, we’re already in the process of updating the site behind the scenes and would have gotten to more robust internal linking before it is re-launched. So your “deduction” that we weren’t aware of the power of those pages (and again, the power of them NOW as opposed to the essential no power they had in our rushed launch) and/or ignoring them instead of that we can’t have more business than we can handle at the moment and that it instead currently takes a back seat was wrong. Again, #justsayin :)

    • Ross Hudgens

      That makes perfect sense, I honestly did not do a thorough check of each SERP for every person on this list, I probably just went to the Outspoken Media page to check your profiles because I am very aware of your brand, which is large as you say. Obviously if you have a better about page that is going to get the lion’s share of the links, it makes sense to emphasize there, or place priorities in other areas.

      As SEOs there’s always something to do – I know every SEO on this list is aware of the strength of internal linking, but likely, had all just “forgotten” about it or just overlooked it for more important things – which, clearly, happened to you.

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