in Just Journalism

Why it’s important to dominate search results for your name

Search results for your name

Do search results for your name show the best side of you? Photo by Jeff McNeill on Flickr

My sister told me the other day that when you Google her name you might get the impression that she’s a beauty queen. Apparently a New Hampshire diva whose name only differs by a camel-cased letter gets some search engine love, too. And it does mattter: My sister, who’s searching for a job in journalism and communications, has already been asked whether she’s got a  background in beauty pageantry during interviews.

She’s lucky, though; she could be confused with being something a whole lot worse than Miss New Hampshire based on search results not falling in her favor. But this demonstrates that if you’re a journalist, independent publisher, blogger or journalism student,  it’s important to try to dominate the search results for your name, and if not possible, at least get a very high ranking for a page that reflects positively on you.

Not only do you avoid awkward questions in interviews (or worse, not getting one in the first place), it’s also a step toward building your personal brand, which is more and more important in these days of social media, influential individual publishers and star journalists as a valuable product.

Mashable’s Sarah Kessler highlights a few ways you can win the search rank for your name, but a proven method is to have a portfolio site at a domain matching your name. My sister’s is a work in progress, but I’m willing to bet that shortly after she launches it, all the results in the SERPs will be relevant to her and her brains, not the New Hampshire version with the looks (just kidding, sis!).

Another excellent method for search domination is to blog. However, lots of people slap a “blog” inside of their personal domain (guilty of that myself once upon a time), but that really only makes it hard for your blog to gain any traction. It will always ring a little hollow as self promotion rather than be known as an cited authoritative source where you converse with or help others. A serious solo blog’s posts should ideally reside on their own homepage, not a subpage of a larger site. References to your name from other people, like bloggers or traditional media, will also impress people searching for you.

Kessler also authored a post featuring a list of seven services to find and reserve your name across the interwebs, but that philosophy makes me hesitate. It’s great if you’re active social media accounts rank well, but a bunch of ghost town social accounts will only look silly—or worse, frustrate those who waste their time there while trying to find something substantive about you. What do you think?

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