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My Name Is Common- What You Can Do To Fix It

Do you have a common name and struggle with how you can stand out from the others who share your name?

popular names

It seems that every high school track star’s name is Hannah Morgan. There’s also an actress and an active environmentalist who I secretly battle with to own page one ranking in search engine results. This is also a question I’m asked a lot when I present, so here are some of the ways you can combat common name syndrome.

Google Yourself

First you need to know where the right reference to you appears in search results, so enter your name in quotation marks like this “Hannah Morgan”.  Go ahead and try that on Bing too.  This is your baseline- from here it can only get better!

Me On The Web, a Google service (free) will allow you to search for references to you and set alerts when your name is mentioned online. You need to have a Google account to do this. AND you should have a Google+ profile anyway so go create your account!

Chose the Right Name

But wait, before you create your Google account, let’s think for a second about how you should list yourself. Can you use professional certifications after your name, such as SPHR? Or does it make more sense to use your middle initial or full middle name? In most cases, these simple steps will do the trick.

Consistency Is Queen

But you can’t stop there. If you are in job search or career transition-mode, be sure you change the name on your resume to match your new listing. If you have other online profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter or others, be sure to change your name in these places as well. Maybe now is the time to stake your claim and begin squatting on other social networking profiles you might want to use one day. Namechk.com and Knowem.com are two free tools you can use to see if your profile name is taken across hundreds of social networks. If you name is available, you can and should claim it. Who knows what the next new fad in social networking will be?!

Bury Them

The third step is to outrank or bury the others by creating more references to your name.

By far, the best way to protect and improve your online name is to purchase your name as a domain name, such as www.hannahmorgan.com. No, I don’t own it, but probably should have purchased it years ago. Remember to use the new consistent name you identified above. If you can’t get .com, you may be able to get .net. Honestly, the extension isn’t as important as having a small piece of digital terrain- something you own.

For ideas on how to build the right type of digital dirt and get first page rankings, you can read this post  15 Ways to Own Digital Terrain.

Get Help

BrandYourself and Vizibility.com were designed to help improve your online reputation. They are both free to set up, but have premium services that cost money. Before you spend any money, test drive them and see if they can make a difference.

30 Days Later

After you have embarked on making these changes and have worked them regularly for 30 days, re-assess where you rank by using Me On The Web again. You will not see instantaneous results. The search engine gods take time to recalculate things. While you may see improvements in under 30 days, it may take longer as well. This is just a rough estimate.

Do you have other solutions? I’d love to hear what you’ve done to own your name! Please share! 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dave Boring September 27, 2013, 1:14 pm

    I have a similar, but different, problem. In 2000 a graphic novel (long-form comic book, I guess) was published with the title “David Boring.” All of a sudden, a Google search of my name showed reviews and sales information about this book, and nothing about me. I was OK with that for a while since being found online at the time meant someone was looking at your MySpace profile.

    Today, I use the more casual version of my first name online. All my friends & coworkers call me Dave, so I started thinking about why I was using my full given name online. I decided to change it online, including my LinkedIn profile and my blog site. Now, a Google search of “Dave Boring” brings up my LinkedIn page and blog site on page 1 of results.

    One other thing I have done to help improve visibility is use a consistent head shot photo across all web sites that I deal with professionally. You will see the same picture on my LinkedIn profile, the “About” page of my blog, and my profile on Spiceworks.com. To help keep my professional and personal profiles separate, I do not use a picture of myself as my Facebook profile picture or Google+ profile picture.

    Who would have thought that a relatively uncommon last name would be so hard to find online?

    • Hannah Morgan September 27, 2013, 2:10 pm

      Dave,
      Great story! Thanks for sharing. And having a single avatar/profile photo makes it easy to recognize the real you!

      I do have one question- the graphic novel has no affiliation with you, does it?

      • Dave Boring September 27, 2013, 5:03 pm

        The only affiliation I have to the novel is the name. Otherwise, the plot is nothing like my life. And for everybody’s sake, that’s a good thing. Here’s the plot summary from Wikipedia:
        “The book depicts the misadventures of its eponymous character, whose main interests are finding the “perfect woman” and learning more about his father, an obscure comic artist whom he has never met. All this occurs in a nameless American city, against the background of a looming nuclear conflict.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Boring

  • Donna Svei October 1, 2013, 11:00 am

    Hi Hannah,

    I have googled you in the past only to have that actress come up all over my page one search results. I just googled you again and you DOMINATE page one of my search results. Way to go!

    Donna

    • careersherpa October 1, 2013, 11:39 am

      Thanks Donna for noticing! Owning page one will continue to be a challenge and one that I am up for! Keeps a girl on her toes! :-)