Reference Check: You Are Who Google Says You Are
If first impressions count, then you are who Google says you are. Your reputation is the first 3 pages of search engine hits.
The internet and its search engines have become so powerful, available and user-friendly that your reputation is becoming defined by what the first 3 pages of yahoo or google search hits turns up. Forget about personal and professional references for making a first impression because the internet search gets done before that.
Think about how often you will do a quick internet search before meeting a prospective client or supplier coming to your office. How about checking up on a prospective date or hire? Chances are that you might do a quick internet search before meeting. Likewise if you meet someone at a networking event, how often will you look at their website and maybe poke around the net for a couple minutes or more to get a better sense before calling? For most corporate purchasing, the salesperson doesn’t matter much these days so long as there is good information on the website. If you are looking for a product or service, chances are that you would troll the net before doing much else. It is fast, cheap, easy and hassle-free because you can passively review the information without talking to sales people or going through any tedious hoops.
There are 3 simple steps you can take to enhance your web profile:
- Ensure your internet profile from the first 3 pages of hits matches up with who you want others to think you are.
- Become involved in the online community so there are more cross-references to you and to your website if you have one.
- Put good content on your website or wherever you leave your mark. If you are submitting articles or participating in searchable forums, make sure the stuff doesn’t work against you later. Presentation also counts so present the content well and not in the wrong places. Porn sites are likely not the best place to post articles, especially if you have a nosy mother-in-law with broadband.
If you have a website, it should be well maintained and checked often enough to ensure the material there positively supports the online profile you are trying to establish and maintain.
There are some great ways to enhance your internet profile. Most of them do not involve paying search engine listing fees or buying ads. The better ones include:
Publishing articles online. Articles that contain your name, links to your website and key words are automatically picked up by the search engines and will bump up the hit counts on your main website.
Affiliating with other websites. Your hit counts will get pulled up if you tie into trade association or non-profit organization websites, especially those with higher hit counts than yours. Many non-profit associations have websites and if you are an active member chances are stuff will get onto the website and maybe other places on the net from this.
Keeping past content on the server. Do not remove past content from your website if it is consistent with your desired messaging and already picked up by search engines. It keeps working to advertise you or your business and adds to your hit count. Conversely, empty hits which are those annoying dead ends when you click on a search engine result that goes to content that has been removed frustrates people.
Monitor your hit counts and do regular searches. Use your website hosting company or third party performance measurement and monitoring tools to tune your website and track links to affiliated sites, articles, etcetera. Be mindful that as your traffic increases, it grows geometrically, not linearly. If your site is an early hit on the search engine results lists, it gets additional traffic because people tend to go to the highest hits first, increasing the counts non-linearly by that act alone. Just like in most competitions, 1st place gets much more attention than 3rd place and 4th place gets no notice or prize money. Hitting on your own site can effect the counts and improve search engine placements, especially if you are highly specialized.
Send people direct links to your content rather than the file itself. A good example would be for articles. Rather than attaching the file itself to an email, put a link in the email with maybe an extract from the article in the body of the email. That way you do not load down people’s emails while you create additional hit counts that raise your positive internet profile.
Become a great spammer. Spam the internet itself with your messaging. It is not the same thing as sending spam via email. Participate in forums, comment on relevant news pieces (putting in a link to your website), post articles, join lists and get your messaging into as many places as possible.
Let your introduction and a positive first impression be made for you by the internet search engines. Whether dating, looking for a job or a client, if you do a good job developing and maintaining a good internet profile, you will have a chance to make a good second impression when you first meet the person.
Peter Paul Roosen has an engineering background and founded numerous companies including firms involved in locomotive and plastics manufacturing, computer software and marketing. Tatsuya Nakagawa is president and CEO of Atomica Creative Group Ltd., a strategic product marketing company based in Vancouver Canada. He has assisted numerous companies in diverse industries with their early stage deployments and product launches in North America, Europe and Asia.
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