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Have you Googled yourself lately?

When was the last time you searched for your name on Google? I did so recently and discovered another person whose last name is my first name. There were a number of entries about him mixed in with references to my blog posts, my articles and my activities on various sites. Which would not be too much of a worry, except that my namesake was in the news, and not for something good…

The first place many people will go to find out about you is NOT your website, but Google. This is why it is very important to keep an eye on your Google name search. They may Bing you (the Microsoft search engine), but for the sake of this discussion I will assume Google and Bing work the same way.

Whether you have a website or not, your professional activities leave a trail on the search engines. I have a habit that when I hear a name, I go straight to my favorite engine and search them. When I search on a person’s name, I look for three things:

a. Is this person who they say they are: Checking addresses, phone numbers, company name (You would be surprised that sometimes I find people who are fraudulently presenting themselves)

b. Is this person professionally active: Quality of content, frequency, do they have a personal site, their LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends.

c. What do others say about him/her: Does the name appear on other people’s sites, in other events, newspapers, articles and other media.

Here are some tips to improve the impression a person will get when they Google or Bing your name:

1. Have an account on Big Three social media sites:

Most of the time, on Google, you will find that it is not your web site or your blog that comes up first, but rather your social media pages such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Search engine ranking algorithms seems to give significant weight to these sites. Whether you use social media or not, open an account on these systems and include your contact info and a short description of yourself. This has the added advantage of “reserving” your name on these sites so that a namesake doesn’t take it over.

2. Make sure your website and blog tags and keywords are current:

Your META tag provides the short description that appears in Google or any search engine, after the title of your site or blog. In most cases this is easy to update (check the parameters or settings of your web site or blog system). Use this space to include the short form of your positioning or “who and do what” statement as well as your phone number. Update the keywords to include your full name, short name and combinations, including initials. With a clear tag and quality keywords in the header of your site or blog (which you can update yourself), you will already have a jump on your namesakes.

3. If you are buried lower down on the search page results, focus on creating frequent and relevant content:

Most search engines take into account how often you update your sites and blogs to determine where they appear in the search order. If your name is getting buried by your namesakes, start updating your blogs more often (ideally every day or two) with content focused on your area of expertise. Post your articles on aggregation sites (like EzineArticles.com) The search engines will pick up on your content relatively quickly and move you up the page.

4. Don’t sweat the “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization):

Remember, we’re talking here about people who search your name because they’ve heard of you through word-of-mouth or referral, which will account for a big percentage of searches about you at this stage of your business. This is why I’m not a believer in hiring people to “search engine optimize” your site unless you are doing big volumes (thousands of dollars) through the internet already.

As a solopreneur, most people will hear about you through word of mouth or referral before they find you on the search engines, which is why most people will want to Google or Bing your name to see if you’re for real. By following these simple tips, it will be you that comes up at the top of their search, which will reinforce your credibility and help you get more and better clients.

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