How to Actually Show Up in Google Searches: A Guide for Personal SEO

What Is Personal SEO?

The term “personal SEO” still isn’t that widespread. I think this is because SEO seems like a technical, complex subject to most people. People are more likely to ask, “How can I get my website or LinkedIn to show up when someone searches my name?” Or, “How can I make it easier for recruiters to find me online?”

But both of these questions are, at their core, about SEO. Search Engine Optimization means making online content easy for people to find using search engines. And, going a step further, it’s about making sure people find your online content instead of someone else’s.

There are lots of technical details and strategies to achieve those goals (some of which we’ll discuss later in this article). But the core principle is simple: make it easy for people to find your online content.

Personal SEO, then, means applying SEO principles to your personal online presence. This could include your LinkedIn, personal website, and anywhere else you “hang out” online.

So how can you use SEO principles to start increasing your online visibility? First, you need to determine your goals.

Define Your Personal SEO Goals

When someone searches for their name, many people want to appear. You won’t achieve much if you stop there, even though that’s a good start.

I invite you to think more broadly about what you want people to find when they search for you rather than just concentrating on your name:

  • What are your motivations for wanting to be found?
  • How would you like to be known?
  • Who would you like to be found by?

It will be much easier to build and optimize an online presence if you can answer these questions.

As an example, let us say I recently graduated from a mechanical engineering program in Denver, CO. I know there are recruiters looking to hire individuals with my skills, and I know they are searching online. Moreover, I know that I am particularly interested in working for a smaller company in the aviation industry. If possible, I would like to stay in Denver.

Using this information, I can define some personal SEO goals and answer the following questions:

  • Why do you want to be found? I’m looking for mechanical engineering jobs at smaller companies in the aviation industry.
  • What do you want to be known for? I want to be known for my interest in applying my skills to aviation projects.
  • Who do you want to find you? Recruiters or hiring managers working for the types of companies that interest me.

This is a somewhat simplified example, but it gives an idea of the thought process you should go through to determine your personal branding goals.

Taking some time to do this exercise will make the rest of the process a matter of filling in the blanks. If you try to create your online presence before you figure out your goals, you’ll have a much harder time.

But once you’ve figured out your goals, how do you start building a relevant, discoverable online presence?

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