Last Updated Mar 17, 2010 11:33 PM EDT
1. Buy your domain name. It will cost less than $30 a year. If the extension .com -- the most valuable extension -- is not available for your full name, then try using your middle initial or full middle name, or brand yourself around a nickname or topic. You should also buy .net and .org extensions, if they're available. In search engines, domain names reign supreme and usually show up first for a keyword search -- and .com reigns over other extensions. For example, Google the word "time" and time.com, the website of Time Magazine, will show up first. (Ahead of time.gov, the official U.S. clock.)
2. Start a blog under your name, and update it frequently. There are so many good reasons to have a blog. But if anyone shares your name, a blog can be invaluable, ensuring that people find the "right" you online. Posting new content, however, is key. Google ranks sites based on their refresh rate or update frequency, as well as the number of inbound links. So a blog that has 100 posts generally will rank higher than a static web site.
3. Create a Google profile. Launched last year, Google profiles is a social network directory, much like Facebook's profile pages for users. If you search a common name like Mary Smith in Google, you'll see some profiles listed at the bottom of the page. If you want to be listed, you have to create a profile. To improve your chances of being selected as one of the first few profiles displayed, make sure to fill out all the fields completely. Also, if you add links to your other social networks on the Google profile, it will help boost the rankings of those pages, too.
4. Cultivate bloggers and reporters. If The New York Times or a respected industry blog gives a positive review of your work, that positive mention will come up very high in Google searches for your name. Of course a negative mention from The Times will come up equally high in search results. So be judicious: Seek out reporters and bloggers interested in your area of expertise, build relationships by offering useful information, and then politely ask for support.
5. Claim your name on the largest social networks. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all rank high in Google search results, so make sure you own your full name (or the name you use for business) on all of them. This means adding options to get your name into the URL for your account. On Facebook, go to Facebook.com/usernames. For Twitter, make sure to register your full name as the account name. On LinkedIn, create a custom URL, so that it reads "linkedin.com/in/yourfullname." Also, make sure to join social networking sites that cater to your niche. For instance, if you're a musician looking to build your audience, you should get yourself an account on MySpace.com.
6. Become a guest contributor. Writing guest blog posts or articles for web sites will help increase the number of search engine results that come up under your name. These contributions will also boost your overall ranking and your web site traffic, because there will be more links back to your site. (Guest contributions should always include your bio, with a link to your web site.) You should also return the favor and invite others to contribute to your blog. Your blog will have updated content and more links in, and thus a higher Google ranking -- and you'll get a little break from blogging, too.
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