A so-called “vanity search” – using Google or your other favorite search engine to search for your own name, company name, or other term that you would expect to relate to you – can be an important, even critical step towards understanding what people find when they look for you.
Google yourself and look at what you find.
The results can be very telling.
Googling yourself is both simple and complex.
I have a unique name, and Googling myself gets me tons of results about myself. But what if you have a common name? Or what if your name is, ultimately, irrelevant?
Think about what you want to be known for or found for. Think about who’s searching for you or what it is you have to offer, and how they’re likely to search.
Your business name? I do that all the time to look up hours, location, contact information, or if I just have a question.
Your name and location? You might be “Joe Smith”, a common name, but consider “Joe Smith, city”, or “Joe Smith, profession” as additional qualifiers that people might add.
The services you offer? With a location?
You get the idea. Think about terms people are searching for, and for which you want to be found.
You find nothing
This is a huge opportunity for you. If there’s nothing about you, then there are multiple ways for you to make sure that your message and your information – under your control – can appear instead.
You can be found.
You find nothing good
This happens too often: you search for yourself and find negative results. Perhaps forum comments, perhaps bad online reviews or something else. Essentially, anything that’s somehow related to you (or perhaps not related to you) that reflects negatively on you will become people’s first impression when they search.
And we know the importance of first impressions.
This is a problem, and it’ll take a bit of work to fix. But we know what needs to happen.
You find your competitors
This is both good and bad. The good news is, you have a reputation in you (and your competitors’) area of expertise. That means there’s an opportunity for you to set yourself apart and become recognized in your own right.
The bad news, of course, is that people are finding your competitors and not you.
You find yourself, but on other people’s sites
This is actually a good thing. It means you’re out there, people can find you, and hopefully it’s all in a good light.
In my experience, there are two things that are typically bad about this scenario, or at least put you at risk:
- The information is not in your control.
- The information is incomplete, out of date, or just wrong.
People find you, but get misinformation, and you have no way to fix it.
You find your page on a “site”
I put site in quotation marks because I’m talking about things like your social media profiles, blogs, and articles posted on other people’s sites or other services.
This is all good, but there are two issues with it:
- It’s not really under your control.
- It can go away at any moment.
Any time you rely on someone else’s website for exposure, you are entirely at their mercy. This is true even of social media sites, where your account can get suspended or hacked, often without any form of recourse.
You find your site
Awesome! As you might have guessed, this is exactly what I want for you: information about you, in your control. You get to make sure that it’s correct and up to date, and it’s yours to do with what you will.
If this isn’t what you find, then we have work to do to make it so, and if it is, then we want to make sure you’re making the most of it.