Social media is essential to managing your digital reputation, especially on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Opening social media accounts is only the first step. There are five key components that you should immediately set up when getting started to give yourself a shot at ranking for your search sooner.

  1. When possible, claim a vanity URL or handle, which is critical in ranking for your name space — the search term you want to own, usually your name, company, or brand. This differentiates you or your company from other profiles; for example, if you want your profile to rank on Page One for your name (e.g., Sally Jones), do not select a handle such as @Basketballfan33, which would have the URL Google searches for an early indication of what a profile/page is about and usually looks first at key terms in the URL, so would rank higher in a search for that name.
  1. Always upload a profile picture following the sizing preferences of each social network. It’s also important that prior to uploading the photo, title the image for your name space (e.g., sally-jones.jpg, using our example).
  1. Understand and take advantage of social media domain authority. Social media websites generally allow you to promote another link of yours, which could be a press release about your company or your, your own website, another social media profile, or even some sort of e-commerce project you might be promoting. This allows page visitors an easy opportunity to check out another page of yours without digging deep. When crawling the page, Google begins to understand the relationship between your social media profile and the promoted page, so the search engine gives “authority,” which means that website has a greater of a chance of ranking for your name.
  1. Write a bio, or corporate profile, that helps people find you or your company and that ranks for the key words that are important for your namespace and reputation. Use as many characters as possible and use the name you’re trying to rank for at least once; for example, “Sally Jones is a finance professional with expertise in real estate. Interests include mentoring, gender parity, and social impact investing.” If a biography field has a higher character limit (e.g., LinkedIn), add your key search phrase a few times for an added boost to your rank. Make it appear “organic” and not forced; mentioning your key phrase too often can will make the profile seem “spammy,” which Google penalizes.
  1. Finally, your profile should be as comprehensive as possible; in other words, don’t leave things blank. For example, complete the location field. This can be as broad and general as “United States” or as specific as your neighborhood. Location may not seem essential, but it’s another unique search term that a someone might use to find you in search.

If you set up your accounts with optimization in mind from the start, you’ll save time and effort later. Social media is not a “set it and forget it” strategy for digital reputation. Inactive accounts are seen by search engines as less relevant than profiles that post regularly, so share engaging content frequently and develop a following in order to increase your chance at reaching Page One.