What does someone searching Google for your name or blog name find?
Earlier in the year I met a blogger at a conference who I had a pretty good conversation with. He had pitched me an idea for something that we might one day work on together. However when I got home, while I could remember his name I couldn’t remember his blog’s URL.
So I did what everyone would do and ‘Googled Him’ (by the way – I can’t believe that ‘Googled’ doesn’t come up in my spell check).
What I found when Googling him was not his blog (or not immediately) but the first three search results for his name were:
- a rant about him written by another blogger who complained that that he’d left comment spam on his blog
- his Flickr account which had pictures of him with scantily dressed women at an Adult Entertainment convention
- another rant from another blogger who he’d had a fight with (ironically over the same idea he’d pitched to me)
When I finally found his blog’s URL (it was 10th for his name) I decided to search Google for the blog’s name and found a similar list of links in the top search results.
This blogger has a reputation management problem – at least when it comes to Google.
Whether there is truth in the allegations made by the other bloggers I’m not sure – but certainly the impression you get of this guy when you type his name and his blog’s name into Google is not a positive one. It’d be enough to put off potential business partners, some potential life partners and potential readers.
There is an element in the search results for your name or blog’s name that is out of your control as a blogger. It depends upon what others write about you and the ranking of their site’s in Google – however there are things that you can do to help get the results that you want to the top of the rankings.
1. Identify Which Pages You Want to Rank Highest For – Obviously you want to rank highest for your blog’s home page when someone searches for your blog’s name but there is more than one search result above the fold that people will see – so what other pages do you want to rank well for? One that I always try to boost are my ‘about pages’. Knowing which pages you’re attempting to rank higher enables you to target them in the strategies outlined below.
2. Link to Key Pages – perhaps one of the best things that you can do is to link to the pages that you want to rank well for your name. Link to them from other sites that you have control over (social media sites and your other blogs), link to them from your own site (for example here at ProBlogger I link to my ‘about page’ from every page on my blog and as a result it ranks highly for my name) and when you have control over how others link to you get them to link to those key pages (for example when you guest blog you might ask them to link to your about page).
3. Use Your Name in Links – this is something I don’t need to do (after years of building up the ranking of my blog) but link to your about page with your name. Search Engines look at the words used in the links pointing at your pages to work out what they are about. If you have a link to your about page that simply says ‘about’ or ‘about me’ then it doesn’t tell Google what the page is really about. Instead use About Darren or About Darren Rowse type links and it’ll add to the power of the links to rank for those terms.
4. Use Your Name on Highlighted Pages – a search engine won’t rank a page for a term that is not used on that page. If you want to rank for your name or blog name on a particular page you need to use that term and use it more than once. This means on an About page that you’ll want to talk about yourself in the third person or at least find some way of incorporating your name into it. Name images on the page with your name, title the page with your name, use your name in headings, make it bold etc. All of these things signal to Google that your page is about the words you’re highlighting.
5. Use Social Media Sites as Secondary Ranking Pages – if you look at the search results for ProBlogger you’ll find that my ProBlogger twitter page, my ProBlogger Stumbleupon page, my ProBlogger Mybloglog page, my facebook page all rank for the term. This means that instead of just coming in at #1 and #2 search results for a page (for your blog’s front page and your about page) you can potentially rank for all of the top results for your name. Some of these social media sites naturally rank very well in search engines as they have so many incoming links but if you link to them (like I do in my footer) you can give them an extra boost. You can also help boost the ranking of all of your pages with some interlinking between them – this particularly helps as they will all be ranking well for your keywords.
6. Manage negative pages – so what happens when a page that is negative towards you ranks highly? Sometimes it’s difficult to have much control over these pages but there are often opportunities to manage the situation. If it’s a blog post – attempt to leave a comment that balances out the post and answers the concerns in it. If it’s not you might want to try reasoning with the site owner.
7. Remember Everything Online is Permanent and ‘Builds’ Your Brand – keep in mind that everything you put on the web is permanent. Even if content is deleted it is usually recorded somewhere in an internet archive page and it can come back to bite you later. Not only is the content online permanent but it all says something about you and your brand. This doesn’t help you fix poor online reputation – but I guess should serve as a warning as you build content online (whether on your own blog or not).