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How to Hack Your Personal Branding with SEO

Just a few months back I was curious to understand how Google algorithm was changing in light of the transition toward voice search. That is why together with WordLift Co-founder Andrea Volpini we undertook an experiment to see how I could use SEO for personal branding. In short, I wanted to know whether I could trigger a featured snippet based on the question “who is Gennaro Cuofano?”

For me, it was an experiment, but of course, now that it worked it is also a good business card to have. Why? First,  I was able to have it based on a web page of my site. That rarely happens. In fact, most times when it comes to people, Google only offers a featured snippet if you have a Wikipedia page or an authority website.

In short, Wikipedia has such an authority in Google‘s algorithm eyes that it will take it for good and offer it as a snippet. Even so, if you’re a person, unless you’re a public person there is no way Google is going to use that information in a featured snippet. At least that is what I thought before of this experiment!

 

What’s the point of having a featured snippet?

Until I was able to trigger the featured snippet from a page of my website I didn’t think this would have been possible. There are three reasons why I believe having a featured snippet about you is important:

First, the featured snippet gets used by Google voice assistants to answer the questions of the users. Therefore, if you ask your personal assistant “Who is Gennaro Cuofano?” you will get an answer now. That means you can control your own or company branding also through Google. That is not trivial at all, especially now that we’re transitioning to voice search!

Second, the way Google is transitioning to voice search is changing too. Although the featured snippet is what gets you to the voice assistant, there is something more to take into account. 

Third, once you get your featured snippet why not use that as a business card?

Let me show you how to set up your featured snippet in a few steps.

The Featured Snippet Framework

You need a few steps to improve your chances of having the snippet:

  • set up a dedicated page
  • target a long tail keyword
  • transform that page into an entity
  • bring link juice to that page
  • bring authority to your featured page

Set up a short dedicated page

If you want to set up your page to make it to the featured snippet you want to make sure to have it set up as a biographical age. Ideally about 58-60 words and avoid storytelling. To have an idea on how to set it up you might want to look at Wikipedia pages for other people. For instance that is how I set that up:

Gennaro is a digital entrepreneur specialized in growing online businesses. He launched and created FourWeekMBA.com. He holds a Law Master’s Degree and an International MBA from LUISS Business School and the University of San Diego. In San Diego, he worked as a financial analyst for a real estate investment firm. Now Gennaro is a Business Developer for WordLift.

You might notice how I avoided story-telling, kept it short and biographical. That leads to the second point.

Target a specific long tail keyword

To make the page optimised for the featured snippet make sure to target a particular question. For instance, on my short page, I targeted the question: “who is Gennaro Cuofano?”

That will make it easier for Google to understand that you’re targeting that specific question, thus improving your chances to get the snippet.

Use structured data

Google Search works hard to understand the content of a page. You can help us by providing explicit clues about the meaning of a page to Google by including structured data on the page. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content; for example, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.

Sourcedevelopers.google.com

Although Google makes a case for using structured data for recipes, we now know that structured data is crucial also to rank any other kind of page. In other words, with structured data, you do Google‘s little crawlers job easier to index and rank the page easier.

How can you implement structured data? With a vocabulary called Schema.org.

What is Schema.org? As explained on their website:

Schema.org is a collaborative, community activity with a mission to create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet, on web pages, in email messages, and beyond.

and it continues:

Founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex, Schema.org vocabularies are developed by an open community process, using the public-schemaorg@w3.org mailing list and through GitHub.

In short, Schema is the most efficient way to translate the content on that page as data that Google can quickly process. That is why I used WordLift to create a page and set that up as a schema type “person.” In fact, that is a particular property of Schema.org that allows Google to understand what the web page is about.

schema-type-person

I then used an additional field to link my page to all the other pages about me on the web.

schema-type-person

With this setting, you will create an entity, or a defined object now existing on the web. It is almost like Google finally knew I existed.

Bring link juice to that page

To make that page more relevant connect it to other key pages of your site. For instance, if you have a few articles that are ranking pretty well use them to create internal linking toward your page.

Bring authority to that page

To make sure that page becomes authoritative for Google you need a bit of backlink. How do you get them? One effective way is to use that page as a bio to link when writing guest posts for other sites.

Conclusion

Getting a featured snippet isn’t only about getting leads but also building your brand through Google. For how unconventional that might seem Google is the ultimate source of authority. Therefore, that is the best business card you could ever present to anyone.

Do you need help setting up your featured snippet? Ping me here.

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Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Creator of FourWeekMBA.com | BizDev at WordLift.io | International MBA

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