How I started
10 years ago, I was a business development manager for a high tech startup in Green Bay, Wisconsin. No, that’s not an oxymoron. Steve Jobs was born here. We are the Silicon Tundra! But I digress. During those days, I spent fully 50% of my time looking for the journalist that would write the article that would validate our product. When we finally got that article, we sent the link to the collective address books of everyone in the entire company and said in effect “See? We’re real. Someone in a position to know said we are good.” Then came the power of inbound marketing, blogging and social media.
In his groundbreaking book Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky wrote:
We are living in the middle of the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race. More people can communicate more things to more people than has ever been possible in the past, and the size and speed of this increase, from under one million participants to over one billion in a generation, makes the change unprecedented, even considered against the background of previous revolutions in communications tools. The truly dramatic changes in such tools can be counted on the fingers of one hand: the printing press and movable type (considered as one long period of innovation); the telegraph and telephone; recorded content (music, then movies); and finally the harnessing of radio signals (for broadcasting radio and TV). None of these examples was a simple improvement, which is to say a better way of doing what a society already did. Instead, each was a real break with the continuity of the past, because any radical change in our ability to communicate with one another changes society.
Shirky, Clay (2008-02-28). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (p. 106). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Now everyone has the power to change society without asking the permission of a journalist and that is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because we have that power but it’s a curse because to embrace that power, we’ve got to either have or develop all the skills and capabilities of a major news outlet at our disposal. We need to be part IT Department, part Journalist, part SEO, part Marketer and part Salesperson to begin with and that’s a lot of parts and not everyone has them.
So here’s where I come in. For people who are looking to get found I am the part IT Department, part Journalist, part SEO, part Marketer and part Salesperson. My passion is to help thinkers become thought leaders by giving them the thoughts, tools and tactics they need to make a dent on the internet. Sometimes I call myself an internet plumber, but that really minimizes the importance of the work I do. So let me back up the truck and start over.
I focus all my energy on understanding how an individual or small business can leverage the great tools we have at our disposal to create a place that is searchable, findable, knowable, memorable and shareable and because of all these ‘ibles’ I say that a person or a small business might become credible. My superpower, if you will, is helping people understand what that they have a brand and what it is. Many times I’ll ask a client “if you are the answer what is the question”. In other words, what would people type in the search bar that would point to them as a solution. Those questions are the ones that you should continually be answering on the internet, out in public where people can find the answers.
There’s one more ‘curse’ about this new power we have and that’s that now everyone has this power. There are over 2.5 million blog posts that are written every day and every author hopes that their post will show up on the top of Google search engine rankings. Now that you’ve got the power, what can you do to rise above everyone else?
How you could start
Get the thoughts you need
I have been blogging for over 10 years and have helped hundreds of clients get found and the next few paragraphs contain the most important thoughts, tools and tactics I have learned beginning with this: “If you don’t know where you’re going, then it doesn’t matter which way you go” the Cheshire Cat said so a good place to begin is with the end in mind. Can you articulate your passion? Your onlyness? Your ‘why’? If you can’t, bookmark this post until you can. If you can, then I recommend taking it a step further and doing the work to develop your personal brand. Yup. The Brand Called YOU. If that sound’s like a difficult thing, my friend Ryan Rhoten can help you out. He has a very cost-effective online course called The Personal Branding Blueprint you can take here. When you’re confident that you have a handle on that personal brand, then listen to the podcast that Ryan and I did on the Elevation Workflow a few weeks ago. The Elevation Workflow is a ‘lather, rinse, repeat’ process that all effective thought leaders use whether they realize it or not.
Get the tools you need
Here are all the tools you really need to get started. In terms of number of tools and cost, the barrier to entry is quite low. Don’t worry – you can always add more later but you can get all the tools you need for less than $100 per year if you’re smart. I think these are the basics:
- A self-hosted WordPress website with a snappy theme
- A Google+ account
Yup. That’s it. Those are all the tools you need. However, remember the words of the great philosopher Eric Clapton who said “It’s in the way that you use it”.
Use self-hosted WordPress
Your self-hosted WordPress site should meet the following criteria:
- It should be hosted by a firm that knows how to host WordPress like Bluehost or WPEngine
- It should have a good looking theme from a professional firm like StudioPress that is optimized for search
- You should install the Yoast SEO Plugin and configure it optimally according to the developer specifications
- It should be connected to the Google Search Console and configured optimally according to the developer specifications
- It should be connected to Bing Webmaster Tools just in case
Your WordPress website is the place for posts like this one. A post that contains what is called ‘evergreen content’:
To be evergreen, content must tick one or more of these boxes:
- Highly ‘Google-able’: should answer common questions that are constantly relevant to searchers
- Interesting long past its publication date
- Pull in traffic consistently over months, or years
- Lacking an expiry date
Use a Google+ Page
The next step is to use the Google Get Your Business Online if you have a storefront or the Google My Business if you’re not to create a Google+ page. The page should be optimized for search according to these recommendations from HubSpot and you should use it for posting content that is more temporary – not evergreen – in nature. Google+ is a great place to curate and comment on other people’s content as well and to find great content that other people are creating or curating as well.
Why Google+ you might say? Isn’t Google+ dead? None of my friends hangout there. First, Google+ is far from dead – according to The Social Media Hat it is the number 3 network behind Facebook and YouTube. In a recent post I wrote on this blog I said:
Here are three reasons why Google+ is STILL fundamental if you want to get found:
- Of all social networks, Google+ ranks #3 behind Facebook and YouTube for monthly active visitors.
- Of all social networks, Google +1s have the single highest correlation with Google search ranking. Read this.
- According to Moz, “after Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor.”
Consider this as well…
Google+ interactions affect Google search rankings more than virtually any other metric. Cultivating a strong Google+ presence helps to drive organic site visits, which convert at a higher rate than outbound-sourced leads. Simply put, Google+ is central to effective social media marketing. Not only does it provide engagement with diverse populations, but it directly affects measurable outcomes beyond engagement, including higher search results ranking. Source: The Link Between Google+ And SEO Demystified – TrackMaven 3+ reasons why I’m STILL bullish on Google+ ~ Todd Lohenry
Don’t forget to EAT right
No, I’m not offering nutrition advice – EAT is what Google is looking for – they are continually refining their algorithm to ferret out expertise, authority and trustworthiness on the internet. The question is whether or not you are the one that will be found when people are looking for an expert. My favorite author on the topic, David Amerland, writes:
“The content you create and then share is part of your digital identity. It helps those who consume it to understand who you are, why you do the things you do and what values you stand for. As a result content is the primary means through which you establish your online identity, create your reputation and generate the all essential sense of trust without which nothing else can take place.” Amerland, David (2015-01-21). SEO Help: 20 Semantic Search Steps that Will Help Your Business Grow (p. 44). New Line Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Once you have figured out who you are and what your personal brand is, the most important thing in the world is to create, curate and collect content that is consistent with that brand so that Google has a clear understanding of what you are communicating and can offer you as a possible solution. Evergreen content belongs on your WordPress website and everything else belongs in Google+ – don’t worry, you can always do more later but these are the only two things that really matter in the beginning.
One last thought. Stop viewing Google as a system that can be tricked into pushing you to the top. The thinkers and the technology behind the Google algorithm are way ahead of you and me. Instead, focus on directing all your energy to communicating clearly and concisely in the manner that Google expects if you want them to promote your content.
“This is a change in mindset that transforms Google from an “adversary” of sorts that had to be managed, coerced, and somehow convinced to rank your website and serve it in search to an ally interested in the same things you are: giving the right answer to those who ask a question through search. As search “disappears” and becomes a ubiquitous service that people use, it becomes all the more critical to be conscious of the need to provide everything about a business or a brand that will help Google “connect all the dots.” Amerland, David (2013-06-27). Google Semantic Search: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques That Get Your Company More Traffic, Increase Brand Impact, and Amplify Your Online Presence (Que Biz-Tech) (Kindle Locations 3819-3823). Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.
I know this is a lot to digest in one sitting, but in one post I’ve shared with you four important takeaways that represent the distilled ‘wisdom’ of over 10 years of practice:
- Establish your personal brand
- Use an optimized self-hosted WordPress website
- Leverage a Google+ Page
- Don’t forget EAT!
Focus on these four things and you’ll be doing better than most people who are trying to establish their online reputation. Questions? Feedback? Comment below or connect with me online. Oh, and if you read this and think you still need help, use this contact form to get immediate attention.