Everyone tried, at least once, to Google themselves and see what’s on there about them.
That is actually recommended to be done from time to time and I don’t think it’s egotistical.
So, when I found this question on Quora… Should I register a domain name with my full name or just my name? I thought I should write something like a tutorial on how to own Google’s first page (applicable for other search engines as well).
Nowadays whether you are spending time online or not chances are that data about yourself will be present online. That data is not necessarily put there by you, it could be a third party (either another person or another entity – private, nonprofit or governmental).
You can only control part of that online data and if you are not present online you can’t control anything. Whatever is there, good or bad, it can’t be changed (or, at least, it can’t be changed easily) and it will appear in the search engines.
But if you are present online (moderate or hard core) then you can control part of that data which appears in the search engines.
Most of the people aren’t doing that, but they should and I think in the future they will do it more and more as more people become fairly tech savvy (thanks to the younger generations which now are growing up).
People who are concerned with their personal data being online try even harder to have less data out there.
As the Borg said in Star Trek-Next Generation, unless you are isolating yourself from the world or living somewhere in the mountains, the “resistance is futile“.
My guess most of us won’t go in the mountains to live like a bushman, we will go to visit and return to our agitated and busy lives in the cities.
So, “if you can’t beat them, why not join them“? Why not create and preserve your personal brand?
If you can’t eliminate what others (people or entities) are saying about you (sometimes bad things) why not try to beat them by taking charge of the information which you do and can have control of?
Your name is one of your most important assets. It stays with you your whole life, it can even survive you through your children, grandchildren, gran-grandchildren and other relatives. Your name can survive you now also through the Internet (1000memories.com and much more).
Your name is or can be searched by anyone…and it will be searched, have no doubt about that (see more below).
You want to control what those people are searching about you and want to have the best stuff show up in Google and other search engines. If the government can control the information about itself why not you do it about yourself?
Here you have the ways to do it and I will explain each of them (apologies to those who already know how to do it, but I hope this helps more people who are less knowledgeable and which are not just a few).
1) Own your full name domain name
Like I said in my answer from that Quora question, the best is to acquire your full name domain name, better than having only the first name or the last name domain name.
– good: www.johnsmith.com
– not so good: www.john.com or www.smith.com
When somebody is searching for your name they are usually searching using your first and last name together. Even they know that using just the first or last name separately will give too many results.
They will search for “john smith”, not for “john” or “smith”.
If you have a domain name with your full name and have the content which you want, not what others want, which do you think would be the first result in Google (or another search engine)? Yes, it will be your domain name in most of the cases. If it won’t be the first result on the first page, it will surely be somewhere on the first page.
Of course, beside having the domain name with your name you also should have fairly enough content there which is regularly updated.
You can get all three big general domain extensions: COM, .NET, .ORG
You can setup you personal site on the .COM domain and have the other domains redirect (301 redirect) to this domain (so you won’t have to maintain three different websites with the same content).
If none of these three big general extensions with your name are available (chances are that you are not the only one with the same full name and somebody already got the domain name), then try to see who has that and buy it. Sometime, you can acquire it for little money (little money could mean $50 or $300 – your name deserves that, or even more).
If the owner doesn’t sell (even if you offer good money), well, then you have to get your name on another extension, like .ME, .CO, .INFO, or maybe even countries domain extensions (but be careful which country you pick).
After having the domain name secured (Godaddy.com, Namecheap.com, 1and1.com, Moniker.com are registrars where you can try to buy your domain name if it’s not already taken) you can start building your website.
Building a website it’s easier if you are using an already made content management system (CMS). One of the easiest to work with is WordPress.org. Don’t be fooled, WordPress is not just a blogging plaftorm but it can be used to build customized beautiful and functional websites with the help themes and plugins which greatly enhances its capabilities.
Wordpress is also offered by many hosting companies (you need to have a hosting account too) which makes its installation a breeze. You can be up and running in 5 minutes.
Your website should be registered with the major search engines, be search engine optimized and also a link building campaign doesn’t hurt at all. Every time you write an email, post on a forum or comment on a blog, don’t forget to include a link to your website.
2) Get your full name profile on the biggest professional social network: Linkedin.com
Linkedin.com is the biggest professional network (80+ million people and growing). It is your online resume. The are other professional social networks out there, like Xing.com, but they are smaller.
You should secure your profile and the vanity URL like this: www.linkedin.com/in/johnsmith or www.linkedin.com/in/john.smith or www.linkedin.com/in/john-smith (don’t use something else in place of your full name)
Google and other search engines is looking at the URL (the part after the main domain name) as much as it looks in the title of the page and the actual content. The URL should match what’s in the page.
Linkedin, being a site which is trafficked a lot, is seen by Google and others as an authority site and the search engine tends to place it higher in search results when it comes to people.
Update your profile there – don’t let it stay blank – and allow search engines to crawl your profile (Linkedin has this option in Settings).
Put a link on this profile to your website described in #1 and also put a link to this profile on your personal website so Google can associate this profile with your personal website .
3) Get your full name profile on major social networks websites: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram
Facebook and Twitter are two of the most trafficked websites in the world.
Facebook recently got over 1.1 billion people in its network and Twitter has over 700 million users.
Secure your profile and URL just like you did on Linkedin: www.facebook.com/johnsmith – www.facebook.com/john.smith or www.twitter.com/johnsmith – www.twitter.com/john.smith (if all these IDs are taken then try to get some combinations which have maybe numbers in it, along your full name – like www.facebook.com/john.smith123 or www.twitter.com/john.smith123 or something else but STILL have the full name in it).
Don’t use something else.
Like at Linkedin, Google and other search engines is looking at the URL (the part after the main domain name) as much as it looks in the title of the page and the actual content. The URL should match what’s on the page.
Allow Facebook and Twitter to index your basic profile, but be careful with showing other sections of your profile (especially be careful on Facebook – you don’t want your naughty pics be seen by anyone).
On Facebook, you can let search engines index your profile picture, some activities/interests, some arts and entertainment, some sports, some contact info (where you can put your personal website), some notes. You can even have some pictures from your albums set up as public (but, again, be careful what pictures you want to let loose).
Update your profiles regularly (status, mainly).
Link your profiles to your personal website (put link on these profiles to your website described in #1, so Google can associate this profile with your personal website – on your personal website you can also put links to these profiles).
Do the same on Google+ and Instagram. These services are growing and, especially G+, being a Google service it may help your profile be on the first page fast.
4) Get your full name profile on other social media websites: Youtube.com, Quora.com, Vimeo.com, About.me, Flickr.com, Reddit.com, Digg.com, StackExchange.com, IMDB.com, Tumblr.com, Posterous.com, WordPress.com, Blogspot.com, Foursquare.com, Namesake.com and/or others which suits your personal and professional interests
As on #2 and #3, get the proper URL which ends in your full name: johnsmith or john.smith or john-smith (some services may not allow you to have a vanity URL, like IMDB)
Update your profiles and contribute to those websites with something (answer questions, upload videos, pictures, submit links, etc), don’t just leave them blank, and link them to your personal website from #1 (on your personal website you can also put links to these profiles).
Allow search engines to index your profiles but be careful how much your share (each service has its own privacy settings so look at those before sharing).
These are trafficked websites and Google tends to bring them to the front in search results.
Having a personal website and having all or part of these profiles will allow you to dominate at least the first page of Google and other search engines, thus controlling a good chunk of the information about you which is online.
There are services which aggregates information about you, so-called “people search engines” (see this question on Quora People Search: What are the best “people” search engines?). The results from those specialized search engines can appear in Google, Yahoo, Bing but you can push them down (onto page 2-3-4-5 or further down) using the strategy above.
Of course, this can take some time, maybe several months to one year of work (consider it a part time job). You have to build your personal website, subscribe to the important and not so important services, contribute, doing some SEO and link building, then wait for the search engines to index you.
It is to your benefit and don’t be paranoid by thinking “my enemies will find out about me”, “the government will find out about me”, “the marketers will find out about me”, etc. They will find out about you anyway (just think about the volume of spam you get in your email inbox and your snail mail box).
Just be careful in what exactly you are sharing on all your websites.
Don’t share your phone, exact address, your family status, your relatives status, your location status (if you are using services like Foursquare or Facebook Places or such).
Although, for somebody who really wants to find out about you (like a private investigator), it won’t be very hard to do it.
Again, see what privacy policies all these websites and services have.
——– example 1 ——-
Robert Scoble (well known tech blogger and evangelist) is a very known example: https://www.google.com/search?q=robert+scoble
——- example 2 ———–
As an another example (I know, shameless plug, sorry) search after my name “Mircea Goia” on Google https://www.google.com/search?q=Mircea+Goia
On Google search engines I own at least the first page and my personal website always appears there (you can try other search engines too). And I am no celebrity.
Another good reason to control a part of the online info about you is that, beside regular folks, employers/recruiters are searching for you (when you change jobs, when you are already on the job, when you don’t expect it, etc).
You want to show them your best, right?
You want to show them who you are, what you have done, what’s your expertise, what are your interests/passions, how you can help them.
Yes, they can ask you but they will want to find out online info also (sometimes they don’t ask you first).
Let them find you! Let them come to you.
This especially if you work in fields of arts (musician, moviemaker, actor, painter, graphic artist, etc), computer science (programming, web programming, web designing, web marketing, mobile programming and designing, etc), or other fields which are based on human interaction (real estate, even planners, etc,etc).
According to Dan Schawbel, a renowned personal branding guru, who wrote this article in Forbes, your online presence will replace your resume in 10 years.
Read also this NY Times article.
Even the Mormons are doing it.
Will you let others build your online presence or will you take control of it?
NOTE: This article was published first by me on Quora.com on June 26, 2011.
Here is an infographic by Enrico Bisetto at Sestyle which explains a bit what I said above in a graphical manner.