Your Google results often factor into decision making—whether or not to consider you, bring you in, meet with you, or give you the job. As such, SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is important.
Here’s how to test and shape your Google results!
Step 1: Check your current results.
What’s SERP? That’s an acronym for your search engine results page.
Check it! Open a private or incognito browser window on Safari, Firefox or Chrome. This can be found under “File” in the menu bar. On iPhones, click on the lower right corner to open a new Safari window, then choose “Private” from the lower left corner. The reason you want to do this is to see unbiased results!
Visit google.com (as opposed to less popular search engines) to search for your name. What you find can actually be controlled and shaped quite a bit—including the image and video results.
Step 2: Make your homepage dynamic.
If you don’t have a website, stop reading this and get started on that!
Avoid a static or frozen website. You’re always growing in life and in your career. Stay relevant with a dynamic website—something that’s constantly being updated with your latest news and/or social media posts.
Why? Google pairs users with the highest-quality and most relevant content. They want their users to find exactly what they’re looking for. So just like the rules for raising fans and followers on social media—consistent, high-quality content is important!
Google recognizes blogging. For actors and performers, I’m a fan of “micro-blogging” news and updates. I have a whole blog on that—but it’s really about sharing what you're working on or towards in short blurbs. It's an easy way to showcase your latest news while creating an archive of professional updates!
I’m also a fan of social media feeds and follow buttons. This will not only help your website to become the #1 resource for news and updates on you—but it should turn your website visitors into social subscribers! Here’s my guide on adding social media feeds and buttons to your website.
With constantly changing content, the Google robots can now see that your website is active. The dynamic one-stop shop also gives visitors a reason to return! When you share your latest news, tweets, videos or Instagram posts—there's always something exciting and new to discover!
Step 3: Put your name on everything.
Search engine optimization is often about keywords. Since your first and last name are the top keywords, try to put them in more than one place on your website.
I recommend letting your website be in third person—having your “about” page read like a Wikipedia article and your “news” be like a blurb in the New York Times. Even if you write these yourself, act as if a publicist (or separate webmaster) is reporting on you. State the facts and include links to learn more.
Beyond written content, include your name within your media files. For example, you can rename "IMG5678.jpg" or "REEL5678.mov" to "YourName.jpg" or "YourName.mov" before uploading them. You can also often "tag" the media with your name in the headline, description/caption, as well as alternate text or other forms of meta data.
Be sure to take a look on my post about optimizing your YouTube as it’s owned by Google!
Step 4: Create a web of inbound and outbound links.
While SEO has become more advanced, initially it was about linking. This principle still applies. The idea is to help the Google robots see a literal web that’s been woven from links going to and fro—with your site at the center.
To start, be sure to have all of your social media platforms link to your website. Don’t forget all of your industry profiles/bios—Backstage, Playbill Vault, IMDb, etc. Be sure to link your website to these channels, too!
Try to have other websites link to your domain when you're interviewed or mentioned–such as online press or projects where your bio is listed.
When you’re linking to another domain from your own website, I do recommend these links open in another tab or window. This way, if visitors stray, they will eventually find their way back to your website!
That’s it! Remember Google wants to pair users with the most relevant content. SEO is a constant “game” as algorithms change and new content is constantly published on the world wide web. Become the #1 source for news on you!
Tony Howell is a digital strategist dedicated to helping you design your future—creating offline success from your online presence.