Expanding Your Digital Presence
Updated: Sep 13, 2018
As an educator, you need to be able to be found. That's vital, especially in the 21st Century. Even more so, if you want to be considered an innovative educator, which is becoming more and more vital. Standing out as an educator is vital. There are harder ways to do that (which we won't talk about here), and then there's the fun way: expanding your digital presence.
Your digital presence is everything there is to know about you that's available online. This can be the bad (middle school photos, negative things said about you, etc.) and, importantly, the good, like your resume, past teaching experiences, and what makes you stand out.
Your digital presence can make or break you as an educator. If someone gives a quick Google search for you and something negative comes up, that's a bad sign right away. If someone Googles you and doesn't find anything, that's not the best first impression either. What you want is for someone to Google you and for an amazing central hub of everything that makes you awesome to come up.
If you have a really negative or embarrassing digital presence, you really can't do much to get rid of it. The best tactic is to bury it. You want your good experiences (or your central hub) to come up first, or as close to first as you can get. You can do that using SEO.
Search Engine Optimization. In the absolute simplest terms, SEO is: When someone googles a term, Google finds webpages with that term in them more than others, and puts them at the front of that search.
So, what does this look like? SEO can be harder to explain, and for most of us educators, we don't need this in-depth knowledge of it. If you would like that sort of information, check out this website here. For the rest of us, however, what you need to know is actually easiest to explain in an infographic, which is available for download below.
As you can see, using that term, that's how you get your hub to the top. You,
essentially, want to use key terms on your website or hub as much as possible. Of course, there are elegant ways of doing this, and less elegant ways. You could use one key term and plaster it everywhere, even in nonsensical places, or you can use your name as a key term and plaster that everywhere it makes sense.
Let's look at my website as an example. On every single page of my central hub, I have my name first (which is also the name of my website), and then the page title.
This is a quick and easy way to increase that optimization. You need your name, as a professional, to be ALL over this hub. Write your "About" page in the third person and throw your (full) name in there. Make sure you're looking at how these key terms are used as well, the "quality" of the key term matters as well.
SEO is how you get your webpage to the top of the search, and your webpage coming up first is how you put the right information out there in front of employers.
The best way to see what else comes up about you? A Google deep dive of yourself.
Originally, I had a colleague go out to see what was out there on me. The results were... less impressive than I anticipated. I was worried about anything embarrassing I may have forgotten about that was out there, but really all I found was a... lack of information.
1. There wasn't much out there.
2. The info out there was out-dated.
3. There was no professional information.
That became my goal for my web presence: I need to look like someone an employer wants to hire.
When I was creating my own, I wanted "professional" to be a key word people thought of when looking at it, so I went with a really "minimal" and "modern" looking website. I, personally, chose to make mine in Wix, but there are a lot of options out there! You'll have to google to see what best suits your own needs.
I knew I wanted to have an "About Me" section, a "Teaching" area, and something for potential employers.
My About Me page was pretty brief, but yours can be longer!
I really wanted to go for something clean, simple, and professional. I wanted it to be short as well, because I felt like most of the "about me" would be found throughout the rest of the website, especially in the teaching section.
The Teaching portion of my website is still under construction, considering it's one of the biggest aspects of me as an employee and a person, and it features a variety of content.
I have areas to access my resume, and areas to say a bit about my past work as an educator so far.
I wanted information like this readily available to anyone who may have found this site. As I progress through my teaching career a bit, I'll include my teaching portfolio here.
I also have a section dedicated to connecting with other educators, particularly through my Teachers Pay Teachers:
Finally, we have my "Hire Me" section. I really wanted to solve the problem of having so little professional information of me visible online, and so I decided to put my resume online, as well as use it to showcase my skills in educational technology.
... It's interactive!
Wix makes something like this pretty straight-forward, but I think the end result is still really impressive. Here's a GIF of it in action:
This is so vital for teachers in a lot of different ways. Firstly, it's important to connect with professionals and secondly, it's important for establishing an identity.
It's good for teachers to be able to have a central area for employers and other professionals in their field to find them and find out info about them.
It's also important that teachers establish an online identity. This is great for students and parents; parents like to see what kind of person is teaching their kids, and if you have prior work samples available, it sets a great first impression.
This is important for students because students make a lot of regretful mistakes, and post those online. They need to know how to remove those mistakes, where possible, or how to keep them buried and show more professional information.
Students need to understand that what they post online follows them, and they want it to be professional.
Want More Information?
What about you? What have you done lately to take care of your digital footprint?
Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to leave your thoughts!