My 5/24/09 Missoulian column
Google has recently jumped into something akin to social networking to go along with their other services such as Google News, Maps and Gmail, among many others. Google has an existing social networking service called Orkut, but you’ve probably never heard of it because it hasn’t been as successful in this country as Facebook and MySpace.
But Google’s new service, called Profiles, is a mix of several ideas that set it apart from the usual social networking site. Profiles has some aspects of social networking: You can add personal information in the interest of people being able to find out more about you, add links to your Web sites, add photos and more. But the other idea behind Profiles is Google’s way of giving users a way to help control how their information appears in Google search results.
Google’s own reasoning is this: “A Google profile is simply how you present yourself on Google products to other Google users. It allows you to control how you appear on Google and tell others a bit more about who you are.”
Because Google has a majority of the search traffic on the Web (65 percent of all search traffic, and 90 percent of all search growth in 2008), having some control over how you “Google” might be an advantage. When you have completed a Google Profile, a Google search for your name will show your Google Profile at the bottom of the first page of search results.
How you “Google” is so important to some people they name their children with names that “Google” well, as revealed in this article from The Wall Street Journal
You’ll need to add a minimum amount of information to your Profile before Google will make it appear at the bottom of a Google search result page. This includes valid contact information such as an e-mail address and phone number (though these will not be public), biographical information and details from your resume, for example.
And some of that information will be shared among your other Google services under that account name. One problem is that if you have several Google accounts, you can end up with several different Profiles, a criticism pointed out by other bloggers.
But your Profile showing up on the first page of a Google search for your name might have its advantages. And, you’ll have your own Google URL: Your Profile will be at www.google.com/ profiles/myaccountname.