Image via CrunchBaseHave you ever Googled yourself? Feel free to go ahead and try it. There's no shame. Everyone does it, they just don't tend to boast about it in public much.
Are you the first search result? If not, someone else owns you. Now if you’re called Amy Winehouse or Barack Obama, the chances of you doing something about it are pretty slim, but all is not lost: bear in mind most people will refine a search for a common name - with a location or profession, for instance.
Search is a funny and arcane little game, but broadly search engines prioritise sites by their popularity using a mixture of relevance, links to the site and traffic. Blogs get treated incredibly well by search engines, as does Wikipedia. If you’re mentioned on a major website or a blog, it’s likely that this mention will pop up first – the minor vertical industry website about melamine production in Kamchatka likely won’t rise to the top of the pile.
If you’re not on the first page of search results, a lot of people won’t bother going on to wherever you are to be found down the pecking order.
Why does it matter? Increasingly, you want people to find you online – because increasingly, people look for people online. A recent ‘straw poll’ we conducted over Twitter saw over 85% of respondents saying that they researched new business contacts online before meeting them. So the person you’re shaking hands with for the first time likely already has a view and opinion of you – and he/she found just what you found when you searched yourself.
Can you do something about it? Sure. Get online and join up for professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Think about how people would find you and use those phrases wherever you are interacting online or writing content for online media (‘John Smith Dubai Creative’). Give your Facebook profile a spring clean and spend a little time trying out some social media interactions.
You never know, taking a look at that search result and putting yourself in the shoes of a recruiter, potential employer, new business prospect or supplier may just be what it takes for you to start working on your online profile and investing a little time in a Google Makeover!
This piece originally appeared as one of the chucklesomely named 'A Moment with McNabb' columns in Campaign Middle East magazine. I have to put it here ‘cos they haven’t got a website yet and don’t post it to their own damn blog.