In today’s online existence, we can’t talk about your personal brand without taking a serious look at your Google presence. That’s just what it sounds like. How you come up in the results window when someone searched your name on Google. This is critically important because the Web is usually the first place people look when they want to find out about you. And approximately 70% of them look on Google. Yahoo, MSN and Ask account for about 28%, rounding out the big four.
If you haven’t Googled yourself lately do it now. First just enter your name. You will likely get a huge number of results, many of which will not be relevant to you. Now try it with quotation marks around your name. The number should be much smaller. While some or many (depending on how common your name is) will still not refer to you, a much higher percentage will be relevant. Scan these for several pages – if you have that many. You may be surprised at what you find. Some kinds of online activity, like reviewing a book on Amazon.com, rank a high priority with Google. Others fall to the lower positions. Look for misleading or negative page results. You can try to have them removed by contacting the site’s webmaster – not Google, the site that comes up in the results. Google only removes a page from its index at the webmaster’s request. There are some services you can purchase to help suppress or minimize pages you don’t like. I suggest doing a Google search on ONLINE REPUTATION to see what they have to offer.
Assessing Your Google Presence
There is no absolute metric. You can, however, get a reasonable idea of your presence by Googling your name in quotes, determining the percentage of the relevant entries (using the first few Google results pages) and multiplying it by the total number of results in the upper right-hand corner of the Google screen. What does that number mean? It depends on your personal/professional situation. If you are a fairly low-profile executive who has not done seminars, speaking engagements, etc, you might expect dozens to a few hundred. If you are well known in your industry or community and have had extensive public exposure, you might have hundreds of thousands of results pages. There is no right or wrong. The most important thing is building on what you have with positive, relevant pages that support and convey your personal brand. These beneficial pages also tend to push less relevant and negative pages down the ranking. Check back soon, and I will give you a list of ways to do that.