Rank No. 1 for My Name in Search Engines
Summary: This article is a record of my journey of promoting my own website to rank number 1 in search engine result pages (SERP) for my name as the search query . Detailed search engine optimization (SEO) techniques are discussed together with the achieved effects. It can serve as a roadmap for website owners to promote their website up the SERP.
If you own a personal website or have created a personal page at websites like about.me or aboutus.org, ever fancy to appear first in the search engine result page with “your name” as the search query? This can be seen as a personal branding tactic. And if you are working in the SEO industry, gaining the number 1 place in search engine result page is a strong testimonial to your skills.
My name is Edward Chung and I am a full-stack well developer. I am generally interested in all things related to the internet and is busy catching up with the changes in the internet everyday. Before going into the web industry, I was a visual designer.
I registered the domain www.edward-designer.com on 22 Dec 2006 and hosted my personal design portfolio on it. Normally, I would update the design/info of the site once a year. Just like any other pure web designers at that time, I didn’t think much about SEO when building my first few editions of online portfolio. Having a full-time job as the webmaster of a local tertiary institute and working on SEO for the website on my own accord, my own site was nearly abandoned for several years.
But when the idea of personal SEO sprang up in my mind, I could not but try my very best to apply all the SEO techniques I have mastered to my own website. And it is really fun.
Below are the preparatory works I made before carrying out the optimization:
- Fix a name to represent myself – it was pretty difficult for a person living in a bilingual city like Hong Kong to fix a name as we are called differently on different occasions: e.g. Chung Edward, Chung Chi Wing, Chi-wing Chung, 鍾志榮, etc. This has the implication that my personal SEO would be more difficult as my name would be displayed differently in the web and search engines would not know the different names represent the same person. If possible, choose a name that returns less search results as the competition is less fierce. After thorough consideration, Edward Chung seems to be the most natural choice.
- Search and record your current standing – I was ranked 44 among 31,700,000 results in Google. With the ‘benchmark’ for later comparison, I would be able to see my progress along the way.
- Build my own website and blog, best if the website is self hosted. If you don’t have the skills or hosting options, you may use free services just like WordPress, about.me, aboutus.org, however the limitation is that you won’t have the free hand on server configurations and data from many analytic sources. And if you build your own website, register a domain name that includes your name. Unfortunately, www.edwardchung.com was not available, so I resorted to a domain that can represent my profession: edward-designer.com
- Register and use the following free web services for your site: Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, AddThis
Week 1: On-page Optimization
As in any SEO campaign, content is king and techniques are jewels of the crown. The combination of contents and techniques guarantees best results.
- use the techniques described in the post: Top SEO Tips for Web Developers
- repeat my name a number of times in the contents of all pages – but make sure not to spam the page as Google will detect and give penalty
- begin a blog on my site (All Things Web – the blog you are now reading) and use the RSS feed as a sitemap for Google Webmaster Tools
- update my site and blog regularly and submit the change to Google/Bing Webmaster Tools manually for faster results
- jumped from 44 to 12 in Google HK (English)
Week 2: Off-page Optimization
- Register my personal profile at Google+, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, about.me and Coroflot (if you are a designer), include my website address in all the profiles as search engines love good links
- Search for your own local directories and get listed on them, e.g. www.designdirectory.hk and timway.com/add.html
- Put all these links on a page on my website for easy reference by the search engines
- Register for accounts on major local discussion forums and participate actively in discussion topics related to my industry
- Continue to add contents to the blog
- jumped from 12 to 8 in Google HK (English)
Week 3 : Competitive Analysis and Link Building
- Search for terms like ‘Hong Kong Web Developer’, ‘Hong Kong Web Designer’, etc. and study the SEO strategies of the designer/developer websites with high rankings. Try to understand the rationales behind the higher ranks even if I don’t feel there is an SEO strategy at all.
- Pin images from my website on Pinterest (links are still without rel=’nofollow’)
- Try different homepage configurations to see if these have any impacts on ranking. A layout with more text wins this time.
- Added a language switcher on the home page to display contents in Traditional Chinese.
- Participate actively in discussion topics related to my industry and continue to add contents to the blog. This is an ongoing endeavor beyond this week.
- jumped from 8 to 6 in Google HK (English), from to 8 to 4 in Yahoo! HK
Week 4: Ongoing Optimization and Handling Irregularities
- Add a latest blog posts section to the home page
- jumped from 6 to 4 in Google HK (English), from 4 to 1 in Yahoo! HK
- [29-08-2013] A youtube page with the owner bearing the same name of me always appear before me in the Traditional Chinese results. The owner must have not applied any SEO but the page is ranked higher by Google. Deeper analysis reveal that the page is not active at all, only 3 videos were uploaded months ago. Weird behavior, something must be wrong on the Google algorithm as this page does not offer any valuable contents. I tried to create my own channel to see if things will be improving. [02-09-2013] The youtube page jumped 4 places while my website remains in no.8
Week 5: Enhance Web Presence Through Other Channels
- Created a video of my design portfolio and uploaded to youtube.
- Added local merchant information to Google map
, pending approval. [09-09-2013]
- The ranking in Traditional Chinese jumped from 8 to 4
- Try to be a guest blogger/contributer at leading websites related to my profession. This is rather difficult, so I would try to write more blog posts on my blog first to hone my writing skills.
- Comment on blogs related to my industry (always search for code without rel=’nofollow’ though this is quite difficult to find)
- The rank of my website seems to top off at 4 in Google HK (both English and Traditional Chinese) with the three above coming from linkedin.com
- Will keep an eye out for any improvements as time goes
- The ranking in Traditional Chinese jumped from 4 to 2
- The ranking in English jumped from 4 to 1
- SEO for your name is pretty easy as not much people know the trick, therefore the competition is low.
- Google crawls changes in website contents pretty fast, the effects on search result will be visible almost the next day [it will take a week or so for Yahoo!/Bing to show the result].
- Be ware Google may have multiple languages for a region and the results will be different depending on whether you have optimized your site for the language in question.
- It is easier to get to the 1st position in Yahoo! HK than Google. It took only about 3 weeks to go to the first place in Yahoo!. LinkedIn and Facebook pages of your name often are the most highly ranked pages in Google. It takes time to ascend through the ranking and beat them.