SEO Optimize Your Name for a Good First Online Impression

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

When was the last time you googled your name? Find out how to maximize your branded SERPs to make the right first online impression.

When was the last time you "googled yourself"? How often do you think your potential employers or parters type your name in the Google or Bing search box? According to the recent Huffington Post article, 80% of employers Google job seekers before inviting them into an interview!

Your name (or brand name) "vanity" search results are your biggest asset. Your cannot "own" them but you can influence them in one or another way. Are your branded SERPs making the right first impression? (Many people will not even look further!)

1. Auto-Suggest

People may form their opinion about you (or your brand) when still typing your name in the search box: That's the power of as-you-type search suggestions that also power Google Instant (Google showing the search results while you are typing the query)

Google Suggest is not be taken lightly. We've heard stories when it has ruined a product (when, for example, Google started suggesting [seo book torrents] "encouraging" people to seek free downloads instead of paying for the product).

In some cases, Google Suggest may form a negative first impression with many people unlikely to look further.

Solution: Google Suggest is mostly powered by search behavior data: "What users tend to type next" when searching for your name (Bing Auto-Suggest feature works in a similar way). You don't really have the powers to change anything unless you create a positive big news around yourself, for example:

  • Publish a book or a course. Coin a term in your industry and back it with research, etc
    A faster way would be to try to "fake" searchers' behavior (using tools like Mechanical Turk) but that's what I'd never recommend (just an option to be aware of)

2. Misspellings

There can be two types of unfortunate cases:

  1. Search engines consider your name a misspelling and mildly suggest a better way to put it (which is likely not you)
  2. Search engines consider your name to be a misspelled version of someone else's name (and show a more popular variant without really giving you a chance)

In the latter case, Bing will not even prompt the search results were generated for a different name giving you zero chances to get found:

[This is the case I discussed in more detail here]

Solution: Misspelling also heavily depends on searchers' behavior as well as the search engine index. In both cases that would take a long time to convince a search engine your name is not a misspelling, so I suggest paying for pay-per-click ads to make sure Google will show your website on top at least (yes, this is not ideal but better than to never get found!)

Image OneBox

Almost all name-related search results in both Google and Bing include a OneBox results for images, which means, even after losing Authorship photos from search results, we still have to deal with marketing our photos (if we care about our branded search results).

Solution: Google's image search used to be the easiest search index to control; they changed the visual algorithm last year to bring more variety. From now on, Google would push less known (more seldom used) photos of you for the sake of variety.

Since top images also make it to the general search, you should be keeping an eye on your image search results as well. To get better control over your image search results:

  • Embrace more visual sharing platforms (Flickr, Facebook, Google Plus, etc) and upload different photos of yourself there.
  • Whenever invited to do an expert interview on someone else's blog (or a guest column, etc), consider providing a unique photo of yourself.

Overall, the more variety, the better. If Google can't find another original photo of yours, it will be forced to show up someone else's...

*Note: I don't suggest using different pictures across your social media profiles though. Consistency on social media makes your (personal) brand much stronger.

Rich Snippets

Both search engines provide some support of rich snippets which can tell more about you (your location, your profession, your following) and your personal brand right from within search results.

Usually rich snippets are generated based on rich markup (like schema.org) but in most cases both Google and Bing rely on huge well-structured sites where they have learned to read on-page code to transform it into a nice rich snippet. LinkedIn and Twitter are two well-ranked reliable ways to generate your rich data in SERPs:

LinkedIn profile in google:

LinkedIn public profile in Bing:

Twitter profile in Bing:

Setting up your profiles on those sites as well as linking to them from across your own sites will help you bring more rich data into your vanity search results.

Now, go Google/Bing yourself!

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