I recently had the opportunity to work with a well-known SME (Subject Matter Expert) who needed to evolve their marketing. In the past, they were so well-known their calendar was full of keynote speaking engagements. The overnight metamorphosis to virtual meetings changed everything. The big events were gone. These opportunities seemed to have evaporated. A quick evolution to digital marketing was necessary. A quick internet search for them was puzzling. None of the information was congruent; different phone numbers and addresses, their personal images were not the same...you quickly became confused. Was this the person I was looking for? Their digital footprint was a mess.
What is a Digital Footprint?
Your digital footprint is a collection of all the information about you available to search engines. This includes promotions of speaking engagement and appearances, as well as social media, links to content you have published, and we cannot forget reviews. When was the last time you searched your name and brand to look at your digital footprint?
The image above is the first page of search results for my digital footprint. I was aware of the footprints above; however, as I scrolled into pages 3 and 4 of search results I found listings that were not set up by me! Your digital footprint can contain information that you did not specifically provide.
Search your name and brand and see what shows in search.
How does your digital footprint impact SEO?
When you are performing an internet search, there is no filter that says, "Only show me stuff that this person has authorized." If you know of one, please share in the comments section. Your digital footprint is part of Off-page SEO. This simply means information NOT on your website but has links back to your website.
Why is this important? When you are creating a profile for social media or joining an organization that will share your information, such as a trade association, you want the information to be congruent. Donald Miller of StoryBrand says it best, "If you confuse, you lose."
Social SEO shares these ideas in their article, Your Digital Footprint: Analyze and Maximize for Better Results.
The first step to creating a strong and effective digital presence is analysis. Answer these questions to gain valuable insight into your online marketing strategies:
- What are the major components of my digital footprint? The easiest way to find this answer is to put your business name into a major search engine. Look at the first page of results. Is your own website one of the first results or is the page filled with review sites and social media pages?
- How is my business represented on the internet? Take a look at a few of the 3rd party sites that mention your business. Are your ratings good? What do customers say?
- Is my message consistent? Do your blogs, web pages, and advertisements all say the same thing? Is there old or incorrect information in circulation?
- Does my digital footprint show my business in the best possible way? Use this step to define what it is you want internet browsers to see when they encounter your brand’s name. Does your current online presence support that?
- Is my metric-tracking method working? If you aren’t collecting data on what your customers are doing, you’re missing out on some huge opportunities. Fine tune your data collection and analysis routines to get the most out of every online campaign.
These questions help you define what potential customers see when they find your business on the internet. The next steps show you how to shape that picture into a flattering vision.
How do you improve SEO with your digital footprint?
Start with what you can control first. This would include any platform for which you have a login.
Keep it simple.
Logo- I am NOT a graphic artist so I leave this to the professionals. Have a professional logo that is sized correctly for all platforms.
Pictures- I am NOT a professional photographer. Spend the money and have proper headshots that can be used. Don't forget to use Image Alt text on Logos and Pictures.
Banners and Cover images- LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook allow you to customize your banners and covers. Be consistent. While there are a million options, inconsistent images just lead to brand confusion. We really like to use Canva as they have a simple drop down for you to select for these platforms and you can create a Brand Kit so you don't have to guess about colors and fonts. Be consistent.
Bio- Use the same bio for promotion of speaking engagements as the bio on your website.
Brand Promise- Once again, if you confuse you lose. Make sure your brand promise is the same across all platforms.
Contact Information- This may seem obvious, but look closely at your address, phone number, and website links. Make sure they are correct.
Reviews- If you are like me, I look at reviews before I contact a business. Maybe it is just my personality, but I look at negative reviews first. I want to know how a business handles customer complaints. Google My Business is one of the more common platforms for business reviews. Many businesses are surprised to know that they even have this business profile. Make sure you have claimed your business profile and manage your reviews.
Your digital footprint is significant for Off-Page SEO.
Moz offers keen insight into Off-Page SEO.
What is off-page SEO?
"Off-page SEO" (also called "off-site SEO") refers to actions taken outside of your own website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs).
Optimizing for off-site ranking factors involves improving search engine and user perception of a site's popularity, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority. This is accomplished by other reputable places on the Internet (pages, sites, people, etc.) linking to or promoting your website, and effectively "vouching" for the quality of your content.
At a high level, improving the "off-page SEO" of a website involves improving search engine and user perception of a site's quality. This happens by getting links from other sites (especially those that are reputable and trustworthy themselves), mentions of your brand, shares of your content, and "votes of confidence" from sources outside of your own website.