I was interviewing a potential candidate for the Oregon State University College Student Services Administration program when she asked for my business card. Unfortunately, I had not brought any with me. I found myself saying what has become an inside joke amongst my friends: “Just Google my name.” Trust me, it sounded a little ridiculous when I said it. However, I think it brought up a valuable topic/question for student affairs professionals: Are you searchable and how does it relate to your personal brand?
We’re all aware that people like to Google each other. Prospective employers, current employers, colleagues, friends, family members…any member of our professional/personal network can search for our name. I’m often asked how I was able to get my name, and the sites that I either run or belong to, into the top 10 search results page for the top 3 search engines: Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
The answer is relatively simple: consistency, reach, and connections.
Consistency: I use my full name for every website that I am affiliated with and/or own. My primary web presence is EricStoller.com. Because my name is in the URL, search engines automatically give it a higher value in search engine results pages (SERPS). Using my full name on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Google Profiles ensures that when people search for my name, they are shown links to sites/services of which I am affiliated that have a higher likelihood of appearing in a SERP due to their PageRank.
Reach: In addition to the sites that I mention above, the more sites/services that you sign up for using your real name will strengthen your overall searchability. If a website allows you to create a unique identity with a profile, I would highly recommend that you be the first person to sign up using your full name. This will assist you with maintaining and managing your personal brand. I use “ericstoller” for every website. According to HowManyOfMe.com, there are at least 11 people named Eric Stoller in the United States. When people search for “Eric Stoller,” I want to be at the top of the results page.
Connections: If you have your own website and your name is your URL, making connections with other websites is crucial to establishing your site, your name, your searchability and your personal brand. Search engines will find your site/name much faster if you are linked to from prominent websites. I currently blog for Inside Higher Ed as well as for The Student Affairs Collaborative. My site posts are aggregated into Blog High Ed and linked from CollegeWebEditor.com. Whenever I speak at a conference, I include links to my website and to Twitter. These virtual pats on the back create a strong network of connections that enhance the placement of my name in search engines and help to spread my personal brand throughout the web.
Cross posted at On The Go With Ed Cabellon