Written By: Adam Dince
Have you ever been asked, “If your friends were to describe you, what would they say?” If so, then you’re probably familiar with the lump that forms in your throat when trying to answer the question. Let’s look at the same question from a career perspective. If you were to ask your business partners, clients, boss or anyone in your professional circles to describe your skills what would they say? Are you really known for what you want to be known for? What is your personal brand?
I often write about the importance of building your personal brand online, and today we’re going to approach it from a different perspective. We’re going to look at and explore the question, “What does Google’s search engine know about you?”
Why is it important to be aware of what Google’s search engine knows about you? Google by nature is the world’s largest content aggregator. It has read and stored hundreds of trillions of Web pages. As Google stores this content, it simultaneously gets a strong understanding of the theme/topic of text, images, videos, and other assets present on page. Furthermore, it’s able to detect who the author(s) of Web pages are and how those authors relate to the larger Web in whole. All of this information tied together allows Google to help searchers find what they’re looking for.
Given that Google’s search engine is the oracle of the Web—wouldn’t you say that it’s important for Google to have an accurate understanding of whom you are?
So let’s dig in! First and foremost, in order to do this analysis for yourself, you’re only going to need one tool. It’s the Google AdWords keyword tool .
Sidebar for those new to this tool: Many of us in search marketing use the AdWords keyword tool to help us understand what keywords people search for as well as how Google thinks about the relationships between keywords. For instance, if I wanted to write an article on “chocolate donuts”, I’d use the keyword tool to find other terms related to “chocolate donuts” that Google recommends including in the content. Then, I’d take that set of terms, look at how often each keyword is searched and begin building a set of terms to target on the page. This is the most basic element / process of search marketing.
While you can use Google’s keyword tool to find the right keywords to optimize a Web page for, you can also use it to ask the question, “Google, what do you say about me?” It’s as simple as entering your name in to the tool and clicking “Search”. In full transparency, the more common your name is, the more difficult it will be to get an accurate set of terms related to your name and the longer it may take to change what Google knows about you. Think about the data we’re about to look at as a report card on how well you’re branding yourself.
Let’s look at what Google’s keyword tool knows about me:
The list of 216 keyword ideas returned by Google was fairly accurate to my professional career. They’re all terms I’d want to be found and there’s nothing derogatory (yet). This means that as Google reads and stores content from across the vast Web, it’s able to attribute these keywords/skills back to my name.
What does Google say about you when you do this? Are you finding what you hoped to? If so—congratulations! Keep building on it. If you’re not finding what you want, I’m going to provide a few tips on how to start changing what Google knows about you. Some of these tips are a bit more advanced so I’ll do my best to simplify. Know that following these may take research outside of this article:
Tips to help influence what Google’s search engine knows about you:
Build a personal Website – I can’t stress this one enough. Don’t count on Facebook or other social networks to help build your brand with Google. You’ve got to have a site where you post content regularly.
Keep content focused – It’s tempting to build a site and write a lot about everything. The truth is, you should keep your writing focused around the topics you’re looking to build your personal brand around. Sure, it’s okay to veer off every once in a while, but consistency I key.
Optimize social networks – Make sure that you’ve got a presence on the major networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest) and optimize them for both your personal name and terms related to what you want to build your brand around. See the screenshot below for an example.
Get Google Authorship – Google Authorship is Google’s way of verifying you as an author. Once you’ve been verified, you can use your authorship credentials as you write content across the Web. This will help Google tie all of the articles you write back to you. The more you write and include Authorship, the more Google is able to understand about you. Also, Authorship will lead to Google trusting your content more than non-verified sources. Finally, the last benefit you may receive with authorship is a nice little image next to your articles in search results Get started with Authorship.
Guest Blog – On you journey to building your personal brand, you’ll have opportunities to guest blog for third-party sites. Take advantage of those opportunities and make sure to tie your Authorship in to those posts.
Tie In Google Plus – Google Plus is a key element in centralizing all of your Web activity with Google. It will help Google better understand who you are, what sites you own and who else you’re connected to. When you create your Google Plus account, make sure to provide links in the “about” section to help Google get a mind-map of your entire Web presence.
And with that I wish you the best in helping Google’s search engine get to know more about you. Keep in mind that changes won’t happen over night, so be patient and let it happen organically.