What Does Google Say About You?

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By: Patrick Ambron, CEO & Co-Founder, BrandYourself.com

You can bet on it – if someone is looking to hire a contractor or do a business deal, they’re going to check you out on Google or Facebook. We all do it, and not only in business situations, Chances are you’ve Googled someone yourself – tens of millions of people do every day.

This means you need to optimize your personal search engine results. Big companies pay huge amounts of money to manage search engine optimization – SEO – to promote and protect their brands. When you run your own business, you are your company’s brand.

if you’re like most people, you’ve got a Google problem of some type that negatively affects your personal SEO

So how optimized are your personal search results? There’s an easy way to find out. Google yourself. Take a look at the links on the first page. Check out your social media pages, if you have them (and if you don’t, you should – more on that in a moment).

Maybe Google says nothing but good things about you. But if you’re like most people, you’ve got a Google problem of some type that negatively affects your personal SEO. Here are three fairly common issues:

The “Meh” Group

If this is you, your name brings up a few links, but nothing particularly interesting or relevant for a potential client. Maybe you emailed a letter to the editor on garbage hauling rate hikes four years ago, and that is your top result. Not very impressive.

The “Mistaken Identity” Club

The good news? A search of your name brings up tons of results. The bad news? They’re all about some other person who shares your name. The even worse news? That person has a long and fascinating criminal record. (This scenario was actually the inspiration behind BrandYourself.com – my co-founder Pete couldn’t get an internship because he shared a name with a convicted drug dealer.)

The “I Did WHAT?” Team

If you’re in this group, your search results are all about you, but unfortunately, they’re all negative. Maybe you had a bad breakup and your ex trashed you online. Or a disgruntled customer left negative comments about you everywhere. Or maybe you were less than discreet during Spring Break senior year, and now you’re tagged in embarrassing photos.

Optimizing Your Personal Search Engine Results

No matter which group you’re in, you’re not alone, and it’s relatively easy to improve your personal SEO. Here’s how to get started:

1.    Keep tabs on yourself. Go to Google.com/alerts and Socialmention.com/alerts and sign up so you can monitor changes to your personal SEO. Google yourself now and then to see where you stand.

2.    Build a personal website using your domain name. Buy domains with yourname.com or .net, .biz, etc., and then use a free platform like WordPress or Tumblr to create a site. You don’t have to be a tech wiz – the free site builders make it easy.

3.    Join Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you’re not already participating in social media, now is a good time to start. If you do have social media pages, make sure the image you project on them is positive and professional, and clean up pages that aren’t. Remember the “mom rule” – if you wouldn’t want you mother to see something you wrote online, you wouldn’t want a potential customer to see it either. Get rid of it.

Taking these steps today can help you improve your personal SEO and project a more positive image tomorrow. Remember, what Google says about you is important. Be proactive, and make sure you optimize your search results to protect your personal brand.

About the Author

Patrick Ambron is CEO of BrandYourself.com, the first do-it-yourself platform that makes it easy for anyone to take control of their own Google results. BrandYourself.com won “Best Bootstrapped Startup” at the 4th Annual SXSW Accelerator event presented by Microsoft BizSpark and was honored by the White House as one of the Top 100 Startups Run by Entrepreneurs Under 30. Find out more at www.BrandYourself.com