How Social Media Profiles Help with Search Engine Optimization

I know enough about SEO to be dangerous to people like Brian Chappell, who is our expert, but this is sort of an SEO 101 post anyway. When I started Ignite Social Media in July of 2007, I could see pretty clearly that I didn’t rank very well for my name. While I’m no “John Smith,” I do have some competition for the term “Jim Tobin”. Battling me for first page results on Google are:

Nobel Prize Winner. Not me.

  • Jim Tobin, the Nobel Prize winning economist, called “one of the giants of 20th century econ” (pictured above right);
  • Jim Tobin, a baseball pitcher in the 30s and 40s who apparently was pretty good;
  • Jim Tobin, the CEO of Boston Scientific (pictured below right), who apparently made $38.1m bucks in 2005 (mad…); and
  • Jim Tobin, who was convicted in 2005 of trying to help George Bush’s re-election effort by jamming Democratic phone banks.

Rich CEO. Not me.

All of these folks are far more notable than I, so in a fair SEO battle, they should crush me. There is no silver bullet to competing with any keyword or phrase, including your own name. The secret to being competitive is having lots of sites linking to you for that phrase, combined with producing content regularly with those keywords.You can fairly easily do both for your name and doing so allows ordinary folks, like me, to compete with famous people.

Utilize Social Media Profiles to Rank

Unless you work for a wildly popular company, your site or blog doesn’t rank as well as LinkedIn, Twitter (which made changes to their title tag structure and now ranks really well for names), Plaxo, Naymz, FriendFeed, Brightkite, Facebook or others. Building profiles in each of those sites is a must-do. Keeping them active (even if just through feeds) helps even more. You’re borrowing their search engine juice.

Blog. On Your Site And Off

Right now, this blog ranks number one for my name (although the convict sometimes bumps up, depending on Google’s mood), which is a testament to the value of steady content creation. Did you know that BLOG is actually an acronym for Better Listing on Google? You didn’t, because it’s not. But it could’ve been, because steady blogging works.

What a lot of people miss though is the value of blogging off site. Our posts are picked up on WebProNews, I’ve guest posted on Marketing Pilgrim, a podcast I did at Michigan State is currently ranking high, and a speech I gave at NC State is doing well. So get out there, be visible and contribute content.

Finally, remember the goal. Ranking for your site for a specific term is the big win. When that’s difficult or impossible, try to surround it with links to places that do link to you. Think of them as breadcrumbs that can lead people to you. Sprinkle as many as you can.

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11 Comments
  • FadiPick
    Posted at 13:40h, 28 April

    BLOG is actually an acronym for Better Listing on Google! hehehe I like it! Excellent tip 🙂

  • Paul Jones
    Posted at 15:53h, 28 April

    Jim,
    I appreciate your post. My name is Paul Jones, and as you can imagine, I also have heavy competition for my name.

  • Jim Tobin
    Posted at 16:04h, 28 April

    Yeah, Paul. You’ve got it way worse than me. A back-up plan is to rank for Paul Jones and what someone might associate with you. For a while, I had to pleased with ranking well for “Jim Tobin AND marketing”. If you start there you can make progress a lot quicker on more common names.

  • Catherine
    Posted at 16:42h, 28 April

    Jim,
    Thanks for this post this am. If you don’t mind, I would like to borrow your “acronym” for BLOG – that was really great!

    Thought I would also pass along a little nugget of SEO wisdom I’ve picked up. You can make your LinkedIn profile work harder for you by changing the anchor text of your links. So, you could change the “my company” listing to “Jim Tobin’s Social Media Firm” or “Raleigh Online Marketing Company”. Whatever keywords you were targeting! You can see my profile here – http://www.linkedin.com/in/catherinemears.

    Thanks again!

  • dean guadagni
    Posted at 17:33h, 28 April

    Jim,

    Well done article! I agree with all . I have a question. When advising a new blogger on how to defend their reputation and control their page 1 Google results for a name search, don’t they risk locking out their blog (if it’s new) when utilizing the powerful sites mentioned? I think it is a great strategy for people unwilling to blog; I am just worried that new bloggers might be setting up a castle wall that will keep their writing off page one for a long time.

  • Jim Tobin
    Posted at 19:10h, 28 April

    Dean, if it’s truly a new blog, it’s unlikely to rank for a long time anyway. By the time Google updates page rank, backlinks, etc., and by the time there’s enough frequent content to rank for their name, we’re usually looking at 3-6 months minimum anyway.

    So these are a good way to jumpstart people finding you, and many of these profile sites let you link to your blog.

    Over time, a blog can rank very well, as it does for me, even though this site doesn’t have the Google juice of Facebook. Hope that helps.

  • Jim Tobin
    Posted at 20:21h, 28 April

    Great tip Catherine! I just changed it in my LinkedIn profile. Thanks much.

  • Sine
    Posted at 20:27h, 28 April

    And now Google has a way to control how your name and profile appears when you search. http://tinyurl.com/dxtrug

  • Jim Tobin Ignite Social Media
    Posted at 20:38h, 28 April

    Sine, YES! Over time that may be more valuable than all of the others. I filled mine out last week. Good point.

  • Jim Tobin Ignite Social Media
    Posted at 13:17h, 01 May

    Actually, Catherine, I just talked to Brian Chappell, our SEO guy. I was thinking that maybe that LinkedIn link was made “nofollow,” meaning we don’t get any SEO juice out of it.

    It’s not. Instead they use a redirect to our sites, not straight links. So we still don’t get any SEO juice out of that anchor text. Bummer, but I suspect they thought about what that section would look like if we all gamed their anchor text…

  • Edward Izzys
    Posted at 18:50h, 17 June

    Interesting!

    I feel like there is a scarcity of good marketing today. Good marketing means which can convert the leads into sales. The only marketing that has moved me in the last couple of years is Social Media Optimization.

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