If you haven't, I bet someone else has.
It's what we do when we meet people now, isn't it?
Lots of us do.
Before I meet with a potential new client I always Google search their name and/or their company name so I can see where they are at with their web presence and talk about helping them improve Google search results for their name/brand.
So, let's look at how Google represents you.
You have a web presence, whether you know it or not.
Someone I know announced on Facebook a while back that they had become a Real Estate Agent. Since I do websites for Real Estate Professionals I was curious to see what they had for a website to support their new venture.
When I Googled this person the first search result I came upon was a review for something on Amazon.
I found this very interesting, because it shows that if you have not been controlling your online presence, or even if you don't think you have one, one is being created for you anyway. Any website you post on may be indexed on Google and delivered in a search result for your name, especially large sites like Amazon.
There is nothing particularly bad about the Amazon review that came up on the Google search, but it wasn't necessarily the kind of thing you want people to find when they Google your name, especially if you are a business person. You want them to find who you are and what you do.
A Google search of my name nets around 421,00 results as of today - my name is not unique, there are others around the world who would be affecting this number. But, I'm first in the list and it won't take you long to see that I am into photography, have several social media profiles and have a website for my own work with WordPress design and consulting.
Add the qualifier "toronto" to the search and the top results change to be almost 67,000 results and things about just me for a few pages. The deeper into the search results you go, the further back in history the results are. Back to articles published when I had a store on Danforth Ave., etc.
As more new content relative to your name gets indexed your Google results will change over time. Don't get too hung up on the number of results. What matters is that you come up early in the results for search terms relative to your name. If you share a name with someone famous, or have a popular name that may not really be possible, but add your profession and/or location to the search and we should be able to find something relevant and valuable about you.
If not, then after your website is created we should start looking at how we can improve your Google ranking.
How can we affect what Google indexes for our name?
Well, that depends, and that's what we can work together to figure out if you are looking for help specific to you and your project. There are some general things that can help everyone improve Google search results:
Google Loves Domains
Having the domain susandrysdale.com is the best thing I did for my personal web presence.
If your name is available as a .com domain GO BUY IT RIGHT NOW! Sorry to yell, but seriously, you are very lucky. Don't wait for someone else to grab it. There are people who wish they had their name as a .com but someone else got there first and now they have to compromise.
Buying a domain is about a $15/year investment. For a cost so low with a benefit so high, getting your name as a domain is an absolute must, even if you don't know what to do with it yet.
Google Loves Blogs
Many people seem averse to the idea of "blogging" so I try to call it "News Updates" or "Updateable Content" - something like that so as not to scare them off. Because adding this kind of content to your website has huge value to how you index on Google. You have the opportunity to feed Google the fresh content that it loves so much and keep boosting the results of a search of your name - or brand or project - whatever you want to become associated with you.
As newer content with your name is published. So over time the results will begin to reflect the things associated with your name that get the most traffic.
Let's go back to my example of the friend who has just entered into Real Estate. A Google search now, many months later, results in a listing for their name on the Real Estate Broker's website along with a personal profile. This now ranks higher than the older Amazon search result. As this person's name gets mentioned more online this old result will get pushed further down in the rankings.
To have an even stronger web presence a personal website would be my recommendation for this individual, but for now at least Google is delivering a better result for their identity. This is because the Real Estate brokerage has listed their name on its website and of course, as a large company their website ranks highly on Google. Plus, Google loves fresh content so old links will start to fade away as new, more relevant content links are published.
This is why having a blog as part of your website is so valuable, and why WordPress can really help you build the story around your name. It also helps greatly for other sites to list your name and links to your website. That's where social media becomes very helpful.
Google Also Loves Social Media
Ah, social media. It was once OK to ignore it. It's not anymore. Not if you care about your personal branding and how you are perceived. I know people at both ends of the social media spectrum - those completely without any, and those that are rock stars with thousands and thousands of followers on several different platforms.
If you are one of those that didn't want to know about social media, but now you feel a little left behind, well, the good new is it's never too late. It's like a conveyer belt going by that you can jump on at any time.
Social media is another topic, we'll get to later. Just know, if you want to be successful online it needs to be part of the mix. We can figure out what level to start out at and as you learn you will begin to understand which one is right for you and how you can learn to add it into your life.
So go ahead, Google yourself.
What do people find?
Where do the results lead?
Are they relevant, or ancient history?
What would you prefer them to find?
How can we take what Google knows about you know and improve it?
What is it that you want to be associated with your name?
These are some of the questions we can address as we work towards improving how the internet represents you.
When I help clients create a website getting it live on the domain and looking good with the first key content is just the first step. You will have improved what people find when they Google you and pushed it in the right direction. Now, with a WordPress site you now have the power to also affect the future of that search results, to a certain extent, by publishing content you want associated with your name and telling people what you're about just but going to Google.
The world of Google has become very important.
If you haven't already I recommend that you do the following to help you get more familiar with the resources it has to offer:
1. Create a Google account. This starts by getting a gmail address in the Create Account page. Make sure you keep track of your username and password, and please use a secure password - numbers, letters and special characters!
2. Get familiar with the cloud space that is Google Drive. It's a very helpful resource for sharing and storage.
3. Set up a few Google Alerts for your name and other terms you may wish to track. By doing this you ensure that when Google indexes search results for those terms you will be notified by email.
4. Once you have purchased a domain for your website, go to Google Analytics to set up the ability to track your website's traffic.
Keeping an eye on what Google knows about you is a must. You may not be able to control what that search result is completely, but if there is nothing really there about you yet that is relevant to promoting yourself, your brand or your project you can begin to shape what is there and bring more traffic to your website and more credibility to your name in the online world.