Googling ourselves. We’ve all done it – and privacy experts agree that it should be done on a regular basis. But if the results that come up on Google when you search for your own name are less-than-flattering, you may be scrambling for a solution.

These days, potential employers (and mothers-in-law) are checking Google results for your name rather than just reading your resume. Whether it’s outdated contact info, unprofessional forum postings from 10 years ago, or a photo of you in a wet g-string contest (and you’re a guy!) you may be in need of a personal Google make-over.  Here are a few tips to improve your personal presence on this important search engine:

  • Set up a Google+ Profile. Google will sometimes display your Google+ profile in the search results for your name. What’s great is that you have 100% control over your profile content, which goes a long way to building your personal brand. It’s very easy to set up a Google+ profile. Just go to https://profiles.google.com and click on the “create an account” link.
  • Get notified when you’re mentioned on the web. Google’s “Me on the Web” tool sends out email notifications when your personal information appears online. To set up an alert, review Google’s help page.
  • See something bad? Ask the owner of the page to update or remove it. Almost anything can be removed from a website – if the site owner is accessible and agreeable.  After all, most website owners want updated information just as badly as you do. If you can find contact information for the website that bears outdated or improper information about you, obtaining an update or removal may be as simple as asking for it.  Be sure that you are very specific about the page or pages that contain the problem, and clear about why you want it changed.  If removal is not an option, you might request that the site owner add text such as “This information was last updated March 1996.  ZappyCo cannot vouch for the current status of this information” or “This page is no longer maintained.”
  • Crowd out the results. It’s likely that you won’t find anyone who’s willing or able to change the offending content for you. Items such as archived forums, news and media content, and postings by people that simply hate your guts are destined to stay out there indefinitely.  Your best bet will be to try to outrank them on the search engines. Strategies for outranking your competitors can – and do – fill many websites and books.  Some quick and easy ways to start are:
    • Start posting comments in blogs or forums using your full name.  Choose big, popular forums that are likely to have a good presence, and make sure that the pages are accessible without a login.  (And, before you get any big ideas, make sure they’re relevant comments, or else when you Google yourself you’ll be embarrassed by your own spam messages.)
    • If you have a business or personal website, you can make your name one of your top target keywords and proceed with an SEO plan like the one described in our book, Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day.
    • If you have the opportunity to build your own web page within the website of your school, employer, or any organization of which you are a member (many schools offer this to their students and staff), be sure to do so. A nicely written bio page would be a welcome result on a Google search for your name!
    • If you don’t have a website or bio page, build one on any of the zillions of free website services out there (you can experiment with Google’s own here: [Google Link]) and make a page that’s all about you! (Also see the “pay your way to the top” bullet below – Naymz offers a free profile page.)
    • Get active on Linkedin or another business networking site.
  • Use your middle name. Often, problems with Googling yourself arise because there are other people sharing the same first and last name.  For example, there are two authors on Amazon.com named Jennifer Grappone! If you are plagued by this type of problem, you might wish to incorporate your middle name into business correspondence, add it to your personal signature on emails, use it in forum and blog postings, and be sure that it is included on any web content about you.  In the long run, this will help to distinguish you from all of those online doppelgangers.
  • …or no name at all. Some content stays on the internet for a surprisingly long time. Use your full name as described in the previous bullet when you’re making professional postings, but consider using a “pen name” for dating profiles or other material that you may not want to show up in 10 years when a potential employer is Googling you. And go anonymous for some of those rants that you can’t resist!
  • If all else fails, consider paying your way to the top. There’s even a company designed specifically to help you with this: Naymz, at https://www.naymz.com. (Special thanks to Andy Beal for this suggestion from his blog). The basic service allows you to create a free personal profile page on their domain. The premium service will sponsor ads listing your profile page in Google. (Be warned, as reader Darin Newberry points out: “Naymz web site is for the personal use of individual members only and may not be used in connection with any commercial endeavors.”)
  • If pictures are poisoning your reputation, read more about image search at our post: How To Improve Image Ranks.

Follow these steps to improve your Google self-esteem.  It’s a lot easier than changing your name!

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We’ve been helping customers improve their search engine ranks and conversion rates for over a decade. We consult on SEO and social media for major brands, one-person shops, and everything in between. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!

Pogo-Sticking, Bounce Rate – Ranking Factors?

by Andrew Berg on January 2, 2015

Can Pogo-Sticking affect your rankings?

Pogo-Sticking: A search engine user clicking through to a site, and going back to the search results to click through to other pages.

If you Google “pogo-sticking seo” you get a page full of resulting saying it’s an SEO factor, and some go as far to say that if Google notices “they will penalize you” or that “you could fall in the rankings.”

Despite the apparent consensus on this topic, I find it hard to believe it’s as cut and dry as it’s made out to be.

Why? Two key Issues:

Issue 1: You cannot measure Pogo-Sticking

Pogo-sticking and bounce rate are often grouped together. They are different concepts, and most understand this. However, this understanding doesn’t lead most to the conclusion that because bounce rate ≠ Pogo-Sticking, you cannot use bounce rate to find out if people are pogo-sticking from your site.

Without a measurement, how can you know if a user is pogo-sticking?

Bounce rate only tells you one side of the equation, it doesn’t tell you if:

  • The user found information in that first page
  • Left Google entirely after the search
  • Continued pogo-sticking on all results, not finding anything
  • Continued pogo-sticking on all results, revised search and found what they were looking for

Issue 2: Is Pogo-sticking always bad?

The idea of a user clicking to your site from search results and leaving sounds bad – but, is it really?

John Mueller has stated a handful of times that pogo-sticking/bounce rate is not a reliable measure, here is one in response to a Question about Pogo-Sticking:

“Yeah, there’s a lot of different reasons why they might do [pogo-sticking], so it’s really hard for us to say this is a good sign or this is a bad sign”

If you think about it, this makes sense as there are various scenarios when pogo-sticking is a common user behavior:

  1. User finds answer to specific question immediately, continues looking for other information on the topic.
  2. User finds a product, but continues looking to comparison shop
  3. User finds a good site, but decides to look at other options out there
  4. User opens up 10 tabs, and looks at each of them
  5. User goes back and forth between results, eventually sticking with one

There are certainly scenarios where pogo-sticking would be a bad sign, but it’d be hard for Google (even harder for You) to decipher the reason why a user is Pogo-Sticking in most scenarios.

Should you be concerned about Pogo-sticking?

No.

Given the issues addressed here, and also John Mueller stating it is not a ranking factor. I do not believe the act of Pogo-Sticking is a ranking signal, so it’s not something you should be concerned about.

However, at the end of the day, despite saying you shouldn’t worry about Pogo-Sticking, the common solutions across the web to solve the imaginary Pogo-Sticking problem are still important, but for different reasons. Here are a few items (of many) to be concerned about:

  • Slow Site Speed: Especially for Mobile; If your site is loading slowly, a user may bounce out of the site. While, Google is unlikely to to penalize you for the bounce, it’ll get you for having a slow site and as a result poor user experience.
  • Ad Heavy Design: If your site is “Top-Heavy” with ads, or your ads are taking up more real estate than the content, Google may penalize you for having a poor user experience. 
  • Mobile-Unfriendly: If your site is not mobile-friendly, you may be at risk for being penalized for having a poor user experience. 

As you may have noticed, the key item to focus on with your website is giving the user a quality experience (great user experience and quality content).

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We’ve been helping customers improve their search engine ranks and conversion rates for over a decade. We consult on SEO and social media for major brands, one-person shops, and everything in between. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!

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