How to optimize your personal website

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What’s the status of your personal website these days?

You’re not alone if your initial reply is, “Uh, I don’t know.” Because there are so many other fires blazing, many ordinarily conscientious professionals have difficulties remembering the first thing about their personal webpages.

Maybe there’s a name for this trap, but someone cleverer will have to come up with it. And it doesn’t really matter anyway. Your personal website is important and should be a priority for you to fix because it can actually be a really important component of your personal and professional brands.

So, let’s get down to business. Here’s how to make your personal website better, one task at a time.

Use an Approachable, Appealing Cover Photo 

Note the difference between “cover photo” and “headshot.” You need no introduction to the latter; let’s assume the headshot you use for LinkedIn and other professional properties is A-OK.

“Cover photo” — that’s a bit tricker. We’re talking about the sort of high-resolution, eye-catching image that can appear either in the background of your website’s homepage (maybe set behind large-font text) or as a foregrounded “feature” shot at the top of the page.

The personal website for Steve Streit, a financial executive and entrepreneur, shows how it’s done. Streit’s photo dominates the space, drawing your eyes down the page and compelling you to read his entire bio.

Make Your Bio the Default Page 

About that bio: Make it your website’s default page, the first thing visitors see when they land on your top URL. After all, most visitors come to your personal website because they want to learn more about you — perhaps with a different spin than they get from LinkedIn or third-party media mentions. 

Feature Examples of Recent Professional Work If Relevant 

This is especially true if your work isn’t generally available outside of your professional ties. If you’re not a published author, artist, video maker, or anything, that is.

Just make sure you don’t break any confidentiality or exclusivity agreements with your clients, and that your work is legible to the ordinary person looking at it. If not, project summaries can be used instead.

Include a Testimonials Page, But Don’t Oversell It 

Not every expert is able to get positive Google reviews. You could be out of luck if you don’t have a “legitimate business.”

This emphasizes the importance of obtaining client testimonials. You’ll need to ask a lot of questions to do this; this guide should help you improve that ability and avoid embarrassing situations.

The only real exception is if you’re selling something on your website. In that case, testimonials are beside the point (maybe even counterproductive) and you can rely on reviews.

That said, if you are in the business of selling products or services, you’ll want to have a separate commercial website anyway — even if your personal identity is closely linked with your “business self.”

Link Out to Your Active Social Media Profiles 

Consider including a social media feed on your own website, or at the very least on your active social media accounts. Your prospects will eventually make their way to such properties; why not encourage them to do so through a route you control?

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