Search engine optimization (SEO) is both an art and a science, but the most important thing that job-seekers need to remember when developing a digital presence by creating a personal Website or blog is that you must develop a clear strategy for building your online brand so that employers who Google you -- or search for people with your skills, abilities, and accomplishments -- find your site first.
For more detailed SEO strategies and suggestions, please read our article, SEO for Job-Seekers: 10 Tips for Building Your Brand and Being Found Online by Employers and Recruiters.
Here are the rules and guidelines of search engine optimization for job-seekers... the do's and don'ts of job-seeker SEO for developing a digital pressence.
- Do establish and publish a nicely designed Website or blog that has clear and easy navigation. Remember to buy a domain name for your site that includes some variation of your name. (For example, my site is RandallSHansen.com.)
- Don't use Flash or other technology that the search engines cannot read -- and which can annoy visitors. While design is important for your site's overall appeal, you can do so using simple templates or CSS and other design techniques that are search engine friendly.
- Do conduct research on employment job postings to find and utilze keywords and keyword phrases related to your current and next job -- and then create content around these keywords to describe yourself and your expertise.
- Don't rely on someone else to create or run your Website or blog -- unless you can contact them at any time to change and update the content on your site.
- Do develop strong, current, and unique content that is both keyword-rich and helps build your online brand. At a minimum, do include an index page that highlights your key value proposition and short bio, as well as a page with your current resume. Do consider adding additional content, such as an online portfolio and career-related articles and white papers. (To the search engines and directories, at least, content is still king, thus creating a valuable knowledge base is essential to SEO.)
- Don't create 20 junky pages for your site, when you could produce 10 great ones. Remember that it is not the quantity of your site, but the quality.
- Do utilize the title, meta tags, and image "alt" command to optimize your Web pages with two or three keywords -- or better, keyword phrases -- that are specific to each page of content.
- Don't fall victim to the many, many "SEO experts" who claim they can get your site into Google, Yahoo!, and others immediately. There are no SEO guarantees and anyone who tells you so is out to take your money.
- Do create and implement a linking strategy with your friends, colleagues, and others in your profession. Don't use link-generating software that spams other site owners; send the emails yourself.
- Don't take shortcuts and don't practice any unethical SEO strategies, such as keyword stuffing, using link farms, hiding keywords at the bottom of your pages, or faking links to your site.
- Do submit your site to the major directories and some smaller directories. (Especially do submit your site to the Open Directory Project.) And do consider developing a list of key search engines and hand-submitting new pages from your site to them on a regular basis. (You could also use a submission service if you prefer -- but choose one that hand submits also.) Especially do submit your site to Google and bing.
- Don't keep submitting the same pages to the search engines. Do submit your page and then wait for the results. If you regularly add new pages to your site, you will eventually train the spiders and crawlers to visit your site without your request.
- Do use other resources to build your reputation and value, such as social media sites -- including social networking and social bookmarking sites -- as well as blogs, forums, and online communities. But don't spam these sites with just the link to your site; instead, get actively involved with a managable number of them to build your digial pressence.
- Don't forget that content is still king on the Web. So do create relevant articles for your site -- as well as for industry sites and blogs and online article directories.
Review the SEO and Web publishing terms used in this article in my Marketing Your Website Glossary: SEO, SMO, SEM Terms.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.