We’ve already talked about coming up with a brand name that is memorable whether that’s your name, or your company, or both. Now that you have it, you need to secure it consistently across the Internet.
The first thing to do is secure that name as a domain name. If you’re branding your personal brand, you want to own YourName.com. Why? Because again, you want to own that name. When people search for you, YOU want to show up first. And owning YourName.com is the first step.
Use a site like InstantDomainSearch.com to quickly and easily search to see if your name is available. If it’s not, you can modify your name to include your middle name, or first initial of your middle name. For example, if your name is Karen Michaels, and you find out that KarenMichaels.com is taken, you could brand yourself as Karen Anne Michaels and register KarenAnneMichaels.com. You could also do this with your first letter of your middle initial. Example: KarenAMichaels.com
Go do a search for your name on Google and see what comes up. Chances are, someone who owns your name with you, and who already has YourName.com will show up on the first page of the results.
Simply put, that needs to be YOU!
Wait, before you move forward, it’s time to see if your new brand name is available on all the important social media channels. There’s a service called Knowem.com that allows you to easily search all the social media channels to see if the username you have chosen is already taken.
Just to make sure you understand what I mean. If your domain name is KarenAMichaels.com, you want to have the same brand name registered at places like Twitter and Facebook and YouTube. For example, you would want to have Twitter.com/KarenAMichaels and Facebook.com/KarenAMichaels and YouTube.com/KarenAMichaels.
So, go to Knowem.com and see if that brand name is available or taken. If it’s taken, you might want to rethink your branding strategy. Go back and find a domain name and social media name that is available across the board. Note: You really only need to worry about the big five: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn. The other channels aren’t important enough that you have to have your brand secured. It’s nice to have, but not a must.
Once you’ve secured your brand name in theory, now you need to put something up on that domain name. It can be a full-blown website or blog, or it can simply be a single page with your basic information on it. But there has to be something up there for Google and the other search engines to read. I suggest you get a simple, and cheap web hosting account from a company like LiquidWeb.com or Hostgator or thousands of others.
The cost for having monthly hosting for your website or blog at this basic level can range from $5.00/month to $15.00/month. You shouldn’t pay more than that. Most hosting companies will also offer a free domain name registration when you order hosting, so look for that first.
Once you order your hosting you can usually ask the hosting company to install a blogging software like WordPress on your domain for you during setup. This is great because they are essentially doing all the setup for you. Once the registration and hosting is setup, they will hand you the virtual keys to your new website where you can begin to place content on it.
I suggest that you put the following (at least) on your new website/blog.
1. Your contact details (whatever you’re willing to share). So your email and phone number, etc.
2. Your photo. Remember, how do you want to be perceived? Use a photo that represents you. If it’s you and your family that’s great, but maybe it’s a professional photo of you.
3. Your social media channels. Link up all of the other places you exist online. Show your Twitter link and your Facebook link and your YouTube and Google+ and LinkedIn.
4. A few paragraphs (at least) about who you are and what you do. This is content that Google needs to read and index your page. It can be very basic information, or it could be robust— it’s up to you. The point is you must have some information on that page for the search engines to recognize.
Now that you have your page created, the search engines need to know about it. Google finds websites through links from other websites. You cannot technically submit your website to Google. So what you want to do is get some family or friends or work associates who have websites to place a link to your website on theirs. That will get the Google spider working.
There are other things you can do to help as well. Do a search for “Google Webmaster Tools” on Google. Google Webmaster Tools allows you to submit a sitemap to Google. A sitemap is a file that you submit to Google that verifies that Google knows your page is real, that it exists. If you’re using WordPress.org, you can download a plugin called “Google XML Sitemap Generator” which will automatically create a sitemap for you that you can submit to Google.
You can, and should, also create a Google Analytics account. Google Analytics keeps track of the statistics on your website. For example, it will record how many visitors you have had every day/month/year, and other things like the most visited page of your website and which web browsers are most used when viewing your site, and a thousand other things. The reason you want to utilize Google Analytics is the same reason you want to submit a sitemap, because Google then “recognizes” your website.
It all sounds like such a pain in the you know what, but remember, you’re claiming your land on the Internet. These technical steps help assure that you will win that land war. Your competitors (the people who share your name) won’t be doing this probably, so here’s your edge!
Next, if you haven’t already done so, you should go and register your brand name on all the important social media channels. On Twitter this is very easy, you just make “YourName” your username. On Facebook it’s a bit more difficult. You already have a Facebook account, so now just visit Facebook.com/Username. Here you can set your username. Make sure to set it to whatever brand name you decided. The outcome will be Facebook.com/YourName.
Securing your YouTube brand name is easy to mess up. When you register a new account at YouTube, they ask you to create a channel name. This is where you put in your brand name. So if done right, your url at YouTube would be YouTube.com/YourName. It is important to know that you can never change your YouTube channel name. So choose wisely.
Whew… That was hard!
Yes, it’s not easy owning your personal brand on the Internet. The good news is that because it’s not easy, that means that less people will do it, and leaves the door open for you to dominate! Don’t expect to own the first page of Google overnight. It can take time, but if you did the job right as listed above, you’re on your way to owning your personal brand name and total world domination! OK, not quite, but it will feel good to win.
But wait a minute Jim, what should I do if none of that works? The answer is: Change your name or come up with a new brand that people can identify you by. That’s surely a hard pill to swallow, I know. But you’ll thank me, and yourself, down the road when you’re reaping the benefits of your ownership of your “digital land.”