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:
- blog posts
- 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…
- Google yourself, your brands, and specialty topics. See where your content shows up versus the other stuff.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?