I told you so; Google Search = Identity

Well, you know a conversation has come full circle when it appears in either the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) or New York Times and then enters the echo chamber via Techmeme. At the expense of hearing myself echoing similar sentiments that were once echoed by a set of bloggers ranging from Darowski, Bocardo, Jeremiah and myself. Here is a summary of one such discussion.

Yesterday, Kevin J. Delaney of WSJ wrote a piece (“You’re a nobody unless your name Googles well”) on how central a Google vanity search is to your online identity:

In the age of Google, being special increasingly requires standing out from the crowd online. Many people aspire for themselves — or their offspring — to command prominent placement in the top few links on search engines or social networking sites’ member lookup functions. But, as more people flood the Web, that’s becoming an especially tall order for those with common names. Type “John Smith” into Google’s search engine and it estimates it has 158 million results.

I concur. Actually, in the previous discussion generated by Adam Darowski on how your blog is the new resume, I voiced a similar opinion:

As I’d mentioned in my post below, the best repository for your online identity is your vanity Google search. My online brand a.k.a vanity search yields my blog, my other blog (mprofs – where I contribute), my LinkedIn profile (Disclosure: I work for LinkedIn), my Images (Flickr), Video, Events, etc… Now, that’s a comprehensive identity.

On boosting visibility, Kevin writes that:

Some people have taken measures to boost their visibility online, including creating listings in professional directories and paying companies to help them appear more prominently in search results.

One of my earlier posts, I contend that finding your dream job inevitably depends on your online identity and there are two ways to get there. Option A: Blog regularly, between 3 to 5 times a week (as I’m doing today at 12:20 in the morning) on topics that you’re passionate about. This is definitely going to raise your online profile and result in a very high Google ranking for your name. Option B: A less time intensive approach, would be to use a tool like LinkedIn to create a profile and thereby define your professional identity (I currently work for LinkedIn).

Is there any easier way to define your online professional identity?

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  6. Darren


  7. Matt Dickman

    Mario — Great post and oh so true. One little extra that I would recommend is joining a site called Ziki at http://www.ziki.com. They basically create a page for you, feed in your blog posts, Flickr images, Twitter updates and add links to services like LinkedIn. Here is my page http://www.ziki.com/people/mdickman.

    Now, here’s where it gets interesting. They actually buy the keyword phrase for your name in Google, Yahoo and MSN. So if you go to Google and search for ‘Matt Dickman’ you will see a paid AdWord ad at the very top of the list linking to my Ziki page. The service is a great way to own your identity outside of your excellent examples. Would be an interesting test for LinkedIn to look into (maybe as an add-on).

  8. Damon Billian

    Hi Mario,

    I think that folks like you and I are very fortunate to have uncommon names. I do think it will be challenging for the “John Smiths” to standout, even if they take all of the steps to manage their online reputation (social networks, blogs, etc.). Generally speaking, there would have to be a way for folks to geo-tag their name & folks would have to search that way as well (John Smith, city/state).

    Don’t know if you’ve read Dave McClure’s blog about Spock yet. That could be one possible solution…

    Having a linkedin profile also works for me pretty well; my LI profile appears on the first page of results.

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