Support-A-Thon: What’s Your Digital Footprint Say About You?

This Support-A-Thon series was started as a way to help each other out with simple tips and initiatives we can start to implement TODAY. It’s also a great opportunity to share best practices and network further. Today, we’ll look search engine nuances, intellectual property theft, and how SERPs are replacing traditional resumes, amongst other things.

For our purposes, our digital footprint is essentially the collection of your online content. Thing is, content loosely defines a whole slew of things we do online and offline. In cyberspace, content includes, but is not limited to:

  • tweets
  • blog posts
  • comments
  • forums/discussion boards
  • status updates

And that’s just focusing on the stuff that is in public domains. These are all things that can be quoted, archived, forwarded, and, stolen.

With the speed of information delivery today, we must be mindful that any content we put out there can and will be used in some way we may not have originally intended or planned for.

Within minutes, that typo you made will be exposed to hundreds, thousands, then potentially millions of people! EEK.I’m not one for fear-mongering so I will share some good news: we all have made mistakes. We’re humans (or, in some cases, cyborgs).

The thing is that, unless you are involved with some sort of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or SEM (Search Engine Marketing), chances are you are focusing only on your active online touch points. You have to consider all your social media outposts, abandoned or not, connected sites/networks, and searchable content, first and foremost.

Seasoned Inbound/Pull Marketers know that they have to consider where online site traffic comes from and where it’s going to. Here are some metrics and data sources to analyze for my fellow data nerds:

  • referring sites
  • link popularity
  • top content
  • popular inner pages
  • outbound links
  • inbound links
  • referring keywords
  • traffic fluctuation
  • related searches

SIDEBAR: If you’ve noticed drastic changes in site traffic and page views, consider how relevant, persistent, and authoritative your content is. It may be a mere matter of quality or lack of consistency.. Or your traffic may be going to a competitor or scraper.

These are some of the things you can look at to figure out how juicy your content is to the search engines and, by extension, bots, scrapers, and hackers.

You see, organic traffic is amazing because you draw in new visitors and leads naturally.. But you also can draw in the wrong crowd. Social media has made it easier to spread our content but, on the flip side, it’s made it easier for others to do the same (and sometimes use our content).

This is where content scrapers step in. These are the elusive entities that will steal your content to divert some of your traffic. The more destructive variety will try to create branding conflicts, lower your search rankings, and tarnish your reputation and brand identity alike.

The more popular and connected you are, the more exposed you are. Search engine exposure is, quite frankly, a necessary evil. While you can go report anyone stealing your intellectual property and confront those mis-using your content, your best bet is to stay persistent and consistent with projecting an authentic, cohesive, remarkable image that supersedes the mistakes we’re bound to make as well as battles copycats, posers, and scrapers.

Well, I think I created the urgency there sooooooo…

Let’s look at how you can measure your digital footprint right now…

  1. Google yourself, your brands, and specialty topics. See where your content shows up versus the other stuff.
  2. Take inventory of all your social networks, portals, web sites, and the like. Make sure you update everything to be as consistent, accurate, and authentic as possible.
  3. Create backlinks between your biggest sites or link back to your hubs, the places where you spend the most time and stage your online efforts.
  4. Use other search engines and directories to see where you’re listed, if at all. Facebook Search is particularly interesting as it’ll show Facebook and web results alike.
  5. Submit your feeds, links, and sites to directories and search engines. Use pinging services like Ping-O-Matic and Technorati to get listed and have traffic-building sources to update their data. Some of these sites allow you to explicitly define keywords/tags and categories to qualify and place your content effectively.
  6. Create alliances with credible, ethical, and genuine people that can validate your content. Promote each other’s content to help with search rankings, votes, traffic/lead generation, and link building. Services like Networked Blogs and native blogrolls help tons with this and shows people you’re not all about yourself.
  7. Consider completely deleting accounts in communities that are mostly inactive and/or you do not plan to engage on. These may create links but an abandoned site can send off the wrong social signals.

The idea here is to be aware of the brand identity you created virtually on the Internet.

So, what does your digital footprint really say about you?

Do you like what you have found?

Do you want to change it?

Is this the first time you really stopped to looked at yourself from this perspective?

Believe me, we all take this stuff for granted at times. It’s easy to get lost in the daily hustle-and-bustle. At least now you have raised your awareness and you are in a better position to truly succeed (and sustain that success). I recommend you use this proverbial performance dipstick regularly, as outlined above.

This awareness can help you create better content, engage people efficiently, and protect your brand and yourself. It’s GREAT when you have the social web buzzing about you but you’ll to expect that it’s not always going to be good stuff. If you’re like me, you know that this old adage holds very true…

Negative publicity is better than no publicity at all.

More good news: you don’t have to be perfect or walk on egg shells. You *DO* have to make a deliberate effort to manage your identity. Again, persistence and consistency go a loooooong way!

Consider that the data on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) all creates a virtual resume for you, whether you want it or not. Getting the right content to rank high on SERPs is part of the countless benefits of strategic, socially-responsible/aware, adaptive SEO.. But we’re not here to discuss that right now. *wink*

Back to the matter of content scraping, I am not trying to push anyone to hire an SEO out of fear. If others are copying you, it’s rather flattering. That said, I would suggest performing at least some rudimentary SEO work, as suggested above and on sites like Unbounce.com Blog, SEOmoz.org, and SearchEnginePeople Blog . The research and analysis components alone will help you understand yourself and your competition better. It can be very enlightening, fun, and productive if you approach it with the right attitude and strategy.

Here’s a stark reality some will not want to accept: all this information applies to business owners, artists/creatives, and job seekers alike. More and more people are looking at search engine results over resumes, certifications, and other credentials.. If you’ve ignored organic traffic sources in favor of direct and referral traffic sources, now may be the time to really get a handle on your digital footprint and really “level up” your online efforts.

So, I ask you all: have you ever really considered your digital footprint? How does this all put search engine rankings and persistent content development into perspective for you?

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20 thoughts on “Support-A-Thon: What’s Your Digital Footprint Say About You?

  1. Great and very important post Yomar!

    Your reputation and digital footprint online is important, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person and put some good shit out there. Personal branding online is the best thing you can hammer your resume with.

    • Agreed!

      Whether you have a formal brand or not, your personal brand is there so you might as well make it all your own, right?

      Put good shit out there. Simple and sweet, Mattias. I dig it!

      I’ve been hearing more and more reports about companies recruiting via social media. People are looking. You can see business entities adapting to the social web by making provisions to how employees should conduct themselves online, too. It can be scary but that’s the direction we’re heading into. You can see it as “big brother” or an opportunity to build up a powerful personal brand.

      I need to visit your virtual place more often. The last piece on Google Analytics was great. It was highly-technical stuff without excess jargon. I think anyone can pick up metrics and analysis easier by visiting your blog.

      You should all visit and follow @MattGron, folks – great guy! 8)

    • WOW!

      I just had the pleasure of seeing Matt’s latest episode of “When Social Media Runs SMACK Into Reality” with @robsearch and it was a good one!

      What excites me about it is that it aligns so well with the conversations we’re seeing over at the . The heart of conversions, with special regards to lead conversion versus goal conversion, is building the relationship.

      It starts with qualifying everyone in our networks, especially those in our natural market. Know your core audience and nurture the relationships there. Keep engaging in meaningful, authentic ways. It’s tough sometimes but the friends and fans that result from it is soooo worth it!

      Anyway, you guys and gals should visit Mattias Gronberg at his virtual home online. Matt and Rob are quite entertaining, educational, and energetic!

      • Yo buddy! :)

        I just see awesome opportunities to build my online brand today. As you say this is the direction we are heading towards today and it’s impossible to control this coulture shift. The only thing we can affect is what appears when someone “google” your brand. (name).

        Sometimes my friends tells me; I don’t want to do personal online branding because I don’t want to expose myself.

        I then “google” them on my smart phone and ask why I’m finding pictures on them??

        Everybody is already in the online game even if you don’t think you are!

        Thanks for all of your compliments, but my virtual home online is: http://www.mattiasgronborg.com I’m not the golf dude “Mattias Gronberg” I’m Mattias Gronborg :) LOL

        Let’s hook up on Skype soon!

      • Fantastic thoughts here, Mr. @MattGron !

        That last bit is huge.

        Folks often dismiss SEO and online marketing as a whole, yet they don’t realize they’re already being talked about online. We can help shape that image or just leave it all to chance.

        I think I know where we both stand on that, eh? Certainly, it’s worth making a concerted effort.

        Now, I know you secretly love golf. You’re living a double life. I get it! ;o)

  2. Yomar:

    What does my digital footprint say about me?

    Yeah, it starts here:

    The Economics of Friendship. And other social media DOHs! http://wp.me/pbg0R-oU

    But it goes further. And, honestly, I don’t think I’ll be the best gauge of it. I’m too inside of it. Just like I am not the best editor of my writing.

    What does my digital footprint say to you, Yomar?!

    • There certainly are exceptions. You’d be an example of someone that does an amazing, perhaps unreal, job of creating a consistent, authentic, and remarkable image. Everyone you touch almost instantly knows what you stand for and feels connected to you.

      I’d say that you are a friendly, willing servant to others, first and foremost. You put the needs of others before you. Your online content and digital footprint shows that you focus more on relationships, empowering/inspiring others, and humanitarian causes.

      Unlike other online entities, you project that “soft side” and your business and technical side is uncovered by those that dig deeper.

      Why is that?

      Because you’re not focusing on “selling” or self-promotion. Even when you promote your efforts, you’re natural and compelling about it. It always feels liek you are sharing stories versus “selling”.

      You are truly a rare breed, bud!

    • It seems it has turned up on a few news briefs and feeds. Pretty darn cool! Now, we may have to revisit the Paper.li -VS- ScoopIt discussion, Saul. It seems ScoopIt has more customization options.. But that’s for another discussion! I’m on ScoopIt as well so I better start using it more, eh?

    • I really do think so but I suppose there are some industries where that would not apply. I find that the most successful people follow their passions with great conviction. They take a stand and make no apologies. That means there’s never wishy-washy feelings. People love them or hate them.. Nothing really in between. It takes courage, consistency, and commitment to have avid fans (and maybe some raging non-believers too LOL). Besides, you can’t please everyone… What do you think, Jocelyn? 8)

  3. I certainly need to do more research in regards to my digital footprint. Need to schedule out that time – and just do it. Would be interesting to see what I come up with. I do, however, have a Google Alert set to let me know when my name or brand names pop up anywhere on the internet. That helps.

    • That’s a great start, bro!

      You can also use Google alerts to track links to you in real time and actively thank people for them. It’s tough to keep up with it all, of course. That is why some folks could benefit from monthly SEO reports or at least a professionally-done search “dipstick” every now and then.

      This is the kind of strategic value I try to offer to my peers and clients alike. I also try to make my pricing flexible because I know how tough it is for fellow bootstrappers to invest money into such efforts, even when it can save time and make money in the long run.

      (Don’t worry, that’s not a hint. LOL)

      Sometimes, I offer free reports or at least basic data to show folks the wealth of data out there. Most of the time, people have NO idea where inbound links reside and where they are being talked about or featured. Then there’s the matter of indirect competitors who steal your traffic with unrelated content.

      It’s all pretty nifty stuff to know.. And the insight can lead to many great efforts! 8)

  4. Well, I’m sure hoping my digital footprint will leave good impressions for people who run across me. I know that if I ever decide to not be active on any site after awhile I just delete my account entirely instead of abandoning it.

    I also come across as someone who doesn’t “know it all” which is why you’ll definitely find mistakes I’ve made. It’s one learning process after another here.

    I do have a friend that her entire blog was scraped. She even writes from a personal standpoint along with her digital signature. I found that so odd that someone would copy her entire blog but she got them shut down ASAP. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that people will bypass me and decide I’m not worth copying.

    Very interesting post Yomar, thanks for sharing this. Just more things I never really think about.

    • Hi Adrienne!

      Allow me to say that you already know more than most, Adrienne. That’s why guys like Robert Dempsey are building awareness about the true nature of search marketing, because it goes well beyond scraping, rankings, and keywords.

      To me, being active with search engine efforts is about actively listening and, well, being proactive. The more popular you become, the more risks there are so I’m not trying to spook anyone. It’s just good to be prepared, yes?

      I’ve been stacking up my Google alerts and saved web searches to keep up with my visibility and what others are doing and saying, even if it’s not about me specifically. Every day I learn more. It’s an ongoing process so it’s important to stay humbled by the fact that we’ll never be completely set, you know?

      I feel the biggest value comes from those of us that focus on our personal brands over business entities and avatars. There’s greater reward I find with that approach, but also greater risk as a result.

      As you can tell, I am rather passionate about search and online marketing. There’s opportunitiy around every corner and that excites me!

      I hope this information excites you all too!

  5. Hi, Interesting post. I am not a SM expert at all but I am a big believer in social networking and like to learn as much as possible and give back to my audience. My Klout profile says I am an activist and my major expertise is coaching, I am fine with that but I have no idea what other foot prints I left in the air as I am constantly moving from one country to another every 3 years on average. So expats are my target audience. Pretty difficult to leave a mark on a cloud:-)
    What do you think ?

    • Hi Anne!

      Social networking is a big part of it. The tiniest little status update can run rampant through the Internet if left unchecked.

      Some folks take this to a new level by worrying about typos and other silly things.. That’s all small potatoes. I’m speaking more about being aware of what is going on. With that information, you’re positioned to make your online experience much more fulfilling, I feel.

      You don’t need to be an “expert” to understand how we all have a personal brand and image that is projected through the ether of the Internet. Doing the little things to manage that image goes a long way.

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come visit us again! =oD

    • Almost forgot to reply to your other wonderful thoughts here, Anne – shame on me!

      Moving around a lot can be tough. I’ve been there before. The constant shifting can leave your online persona in a state of flux.

      Now, Klout is interesting. Clearly, they’ve always looked beyond your own Twitter timeline. They look at the folks you influence and the targets links point to as well. It became obvious to me when stuff I never even tweeted about was getting picked up as a “specialty” topic.. And this was before they added other networks.

      Using Google Alerts and searches based on brand, name, and specific topics (such as the headlines of your articles) can make for an easy SoMe and SEO strategy alike. As you mentioned, listening to our audience and helping them out whatever way we can is very important.

      The neat thing about these simple proactive efforts is that you can automate them via RSS feeds, Twitter searches, Squidoo lenses, and more. In that manner, we can create listening stations to compliment our existing social media and networking efforts.

      One tool I recommend is Commun.it so, if you’re interested, I can provide a free link so you can try it out. It really “levels up” your Twitter efforts.

      Let’s connect.. I’m @Yogizilla on there. 8)

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