Whether you’re building out your own professional brand or are responsible for those of your firm, candidates, and/or clients, a focused and compelling digital presence should be at the top of your checklist. Here are a few fundamentals to live by (at least in the digital sense):
Becoming an SEO All-Star.
If folks can’t find your website through a quick Google search, you’re missing out on invaluable digital real estate—remember the old adage “if a tree falls in the forest…” Search engine optimization can be a laborious process, but with some diligence, you can make great strides in digital brand building even before you spend your first ad dollar.
Step one: define a clear vision and a core set of keywords—write them out on a massive white board if you need to, as these will become your SEO gospel. Next comes optimization, meaning optimizing your web content (all of it), in large part, through code. If you’ve got a good handle on HTML, scrub your code and make sure that you are leveraging unique keywords and phrases in all the prime spots: links, headers, subheads, body content, image tags, ref tags, meta descriptions, etc. Make your content accurate and descriptive (avoid being too dense), and aim for a clean, streamlined nav—search engines will reward you for it. Pro tip: Don’t attempt to overload your HTML with a jam-packed set of meta keywords. Google has long outsmarted digital marketers on this; and those meta keywords are next to meaningless on search.
Semi-pro tip: if, for whatever reason, you haven’t gotten on the responsive design bandwagon, the answer is yes, your search rankings are suffering…but you already knew that.
Leveraging social — the right way.
Let’s all overcome our social media FOMO and not amass 34 zombie accounts that we can’t remember the passwords to. Be strategic—you need not be in all places at once, nor do you have any reason to be. If you’re starting from square one, grab a handbook. (Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of Social Media is a go-to.)
Mastery of social is about putting your best digital foot forward. If you’re a firm, claim your business profiles, customize your URLs, and develop your digital communities. If you’re building out your professional brand, leverage industry-relevant networks that enable you to showcase your work and build out your professional connections. In either case, strive for thought leadership and deliver consistent, compelling, and informative content that connects with your desired audience. Social networks now provide a slew of metrics to measure your reach and progress—check in on these regularly, whether they be Twitter insights or your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI). Remember, beware of vanity metrics.
Pro tip: If you’re in the business of lead development, minimize your sales pitches on social—leave paid acquisition to the digital ad folks, and focus on brand building, as well as developing and cross promoting high quality, original content. Your social followership will reward you for it.