Do you have a common name and struggle with how you can stand out from the others who share your name? Let’s look at what you can do so that your information rises to the top of page one of search results.
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 ways you can combat common name syndrome.
First, you need to know where the right reference to your name appears in search results. 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?!
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.
BrandYourself was designed to help improve your online reputation. It is free to set up, but they offer premium services that cost money. Before you spend any money, test drive it and see if it makes 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.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.