My November, 2009 Montana InBusiness Monthly column
Search engines on the Internet are constantly cataloging billions of Web sites – and Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s new Bing enable millions of people a year to simply type in another person’s name to find out all that’s available.
When people search for you – it’s not if, but when – you want to be easy to find. And you want people to find the right “you,” as well; one thing a Web search will show you is that there can be many others who share your name.
Nothing can guarantee you a high search rank, but there are some legitimate things you can do in order to end up on that all-important first page of search results and differentiate yourself from other people.
One thing you can do is spread your name and work and business details around more widely by using many existing free Web services.
Of course, if you’ve got a Web site – especially one that has a domain name that is your given name – you should already be ranking fairly high, but there’s more you can do.
Search engines rank by raw text, but Google has the advantage of ranking sites by the number of links to that site, so if you – and other sites – can draw links to them, those sites have a good chance of ranking higher.
If you don’t have your own Web site, using social networking to get your name out there is an obvious way to Google better. But don’t limit yourself to Facebook and the other popular services and wait for them to raise your search ranking.
LinkedIn is a very popular business networking service, and though you must pay for the premium services, you can get a simple LinkedIn profile for free. Google and other search engines rank LinkedIn pages fairly highly, so your LinkedIn profile will improve how well you Google.
Go to www.linkedin.com to start a free profile, but you will find that Linkedin offers much in terms of networking, and you may do more with the service.
And you should check any business networking services that specialize in your industry. Google your type of business and “networking,” and you might be amazed at the number of services available.
You can take advantage of Google itself by using its service called Profiles, which provides a way for individuals to take ownership of their name in Google search results.
The main advantage to using a Google Profile is that a link to your Profile appears on the first page of Google’s search results for your name. You need a Google e-mail account to get a Profile, but that’s free, too, and the payoff is placement on that first page of Google results.
You will need to enter enough information into a Profile in order for Google to make it public. That includes an e-mail contact, but you can choose to not have that shown publicly. Go to profiles.google.com.
A LinkedIn profile requires little information, but the more you provide, the better your profile will be indexed and searchable, and you’ll get a more relevant position in search results.
And that’s true for all services: provide enough information to differentiate you from others and for search engines to “feed on.” Getting a “placeholder” account at many different services is a good idea, but the more details you provide, the better – in order to Google better.