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Why a Personal Website Is The Best Thing for Your SEO Career}

Why a Personal Website Is The Best Thing for Your SEO Career

Published 14 May 2024

In a slightly different article to usual, Corina Burri joins us to share her experience of building a personal website and just how valuable it can be for your SEO career.

In 2021, I was between jobs.

While I enjoyed my newfound freedom in the first couple of weeks, all too soon I began missing optimizing web pages!

My entire career, I'd been busy working for someone else; I'd always been working on someone else’s website. Being out of the workforce meant I had no access to a website, so I had no content or data with which to test new SEO concepts.

I felt like a painter without a pencil.

Soon, it dawned on me that I needed my own queendom on the World Wide Web so I could continue to learn and test things.

I knew that eventually, I would look for a new role, so I decided to build a website under my personal name. After all, I’d rather recruiters saw my own up-to-date content when they queried my name on Google rather than some forum comments I made 5 years ago. 🙂

Little did I know back then that having my own website would be beneficial far beyond my future job search. In this article, I share the advantages of having a personal website, as well as some tips for building yours from scratch.

Contents

What are the benefits of having a personal website?

Looking back, having my own presence helped me in the following areas:

  1. Skill development
  2. Experiment without pressure
  3. Personal branding
  4. Leads and rewards

1. Skill development

“Learn as you build.”

Going through the entire process of setting up a website was an important exercise for me. I gained a holistic understanding of “how websites work”. From migrating a domain name and setting up hosting, to DNS configuration and more.

This knowledge is making me a better SEO.

Creating my own website was also an opportunity to finally work with WordPress. It has a market share of 62.8% and I will likely need it one day for a new job or client project.

On a design level, I was able to put into practice my HTML and CSS skills. I discovered how satisfying it is to see how your CSS edits change the layout in real-time!

Plus, when Google announced the sunsetting of Universal Analytics, I had a stress-free playground available to learn GA4 on.

Within a corporate environment, there are (quite rightly) many more procedures in place when implementing a new analytics tool. But in my own online queendom, I’m the sole decision maker and can learn, practice and implement without worrying about the consequences.

2. Experiment without pressure

“No one will be angry if you break something.”

Having your own website is a brilliant place to test out new SEO concepts. If things go south, you don’t have to justify your actions to anyone but yourself.

Here’s a secret. In January 2023, Aleyda Solis shared a post of mine on her social channels. She has a massive follower base and the post got some decent engagement.

I was curious to see the impact it had on web traffic. Excited, I logged in to GA4, only to stare at a flat line.

“Seriously?” I thought.

That was approximately my expression when I stared at the flat line in GA4.

Soon enough, I found out that my GA4 tag did not fire.

What happened? A week earlier I updated my WordPress version and my GA4 tag was overwritten. I was gutted. But at the same time, I was glad it had happened on my personal project and not for a client or at work.

Timeline in GA4

Having my own website also allowed me to learn and test the concept of E-E-A-T, content optimization, and how to implement structured data without plugins.

I’m grateful for all these learnings as it has made me a more confident SEO professional.

3. Personal branding

“You do you!”

Having your personal website is owned media. You control what people see when they query your name on Google and you get a much bigger playground to show your personality than on social media.

My web presence should give people a glimpse of what they get when they work with me.

Here are some examples:

  • My references board helps to lift my spirits on bad days. It shows that I know my craft but also that I’m vulnerable and have the occasional self-doubts.
  • On my blog, I share “how-to” guides. This shows that I’m a person who keeps learning and that I love to open-source my learnings.
  • Also, on my blog people see my writing style. They see that I have a conversational tone and that I’m not always taking myself too seriously.

4. Rewards

“I’m not getting rich, but I eat good pizza.”

Ok, let’s talk about money. Did my personal website make me rich?

Nope.

After a while, my personal website turned into a blog with decent traffic. I then implemented the “Buy me a coffee” extension where people could donate a sum if they consider the content helpful. And in the last 3 years, I’ve made a grand total of $5.

Direct monetization is not working. However, I do receive inquiries for consulting gigs – which eventually converts to money.

And it’s also rewarding in non-monetary terms:

  • A local newspaper found me through the website and asked for a statement on marketing trends.
  • My articles got featured in Tech SEO Tips, Rich Snippets and many more industry newsletters. This has increased my visibility.
  • I got invited to speak at a national event in Switzerland.
  • I earned some decent backlinks from authoritative sites such as Ahrefs blog. This allows me to rank for competitive keywords.
  • I’ve received three pizza lunches and a couple of coffee invites as a “thank you” for the content I provide.

What to put on a personal website

If you’re now feeling motivated to experiment with your own personal website, you’re probably wondering what should be on there.

The first draft of my website was minimalistic and simply contained the following:

  • Bio
  • Friendly photo
  • Contact information

Minimalist version of my personal website

If you want to take it further you can share your thoughts, case studies and resources on a personal blog. This will eventually lift the traffic and give you a playground to showcase your expertise as well as test out SEO concepts.

From there, it depends on your objectives. Are you looking for a new role? Consider adding a CV page or portfolio. Or you could add case studies that show evidence of the positive results your SEO work has generated.

Do you want to speak in public? Add a speaker section with topics you’d like to speak about and some photos of you on a stage.

Taking on some consulting gigs? Share your consulting services on dedicated pages that target relevant search terms.

How to start a personal website

Building a personal website takes time. But as you saw above, you don’t have to build a 20-page website on day 1. You can grow your queendom over time.

The below resources helped me get started.

Enjoy the process! You got this.

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Corina Burri

Corina Burri is an in-house SEO Lead and freelance SEO Consultant from Switzerland. She’s been working in SEO since 2016 and blogging about it since 2021. Corina supports companies with SEO education, SEO recruiting and all things on-page SEO. 

She works in English, German, Spanish, and French.

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