How (and, to be honest, if) you, your brand, your business, and services, your products, and your colleagues are portrayed in a simple Google search is the most important personal and professional reputation there is. Your Google SERP is who you are, and you need to take control of it.
Google relies on global online content to come up with its search results. This is the truth. Unlike reddit or Wikipedia, Google isn’t micromanaged. Unlike Wikipedia’s restriction on creating and editing your own Wikipedia entry, Google welcomes all of us to contribute to all the links, text, content, videos, images, graphics, copy, tweets, posts, site updates, mobile-friendliness, and site-speediness that make up the entirely of your reputation online, according to Alphabet’s Google Search Engine.
Every unprotected tweet you make, every public post you make on Facebook, every blog you post, every page you add and flesh out on your website, every time you update your LinkedIn profile or Company Page, any time you upload a video to YouTube, making sure you completely fill out the title, description, and all the other stuff they request, every time you update your bios on your social profiles, each time you guest blog or participate in conversations on reddit or become an editor on Wikipedia — all of these things — are indexed by Google and contribute to your online reputation and heighten your chances of showing up on the first page of Google and actually controlling and dominating your online reputation.
Google’s more Rain Man than Beautiful Mind in that it can seem a little autistic sometimes. Google isn’t content in, search out. It’s the culmination of almost 19 years of algorithm updates and an army of spot-checkers and QA Google employees around the world. But even with actual people checking the quality of the content online to try to hammer down and prune the abusers, and even with the most sophisticated and powerful algorithm ever backed by an astounding amount of computing power, a) there’s just too much and b) the content that people are providing is not remotely perfect — and no matter what Google does, it’s anti-democratic to only allow the most perfectly-formatted, hosted and mobile-friendly, super-quick-loading, script- and image-optimized content, to come up tops on the search results. So, Google literally cannot allow itself to become a precision tool, it needs to be very forgiving and exceptionally generous to the most high-quality germane and salient content that doesn’t in any way follow Google’s desperate attempt to meet them at least halfway towards the perfect Google search engine optimized.
Rolling dice with your search results doesn’t mean gambling with your reputation. The more quality content that you generate across all of your online platforms, the more in control you are of your online reputation. It doesn’t even need to be quality content. I don’t want you to get stuck behind a perfectionist’s writer’s block. As long as you consistently, over a long period of time, produce content that reflects what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and who you are, starting today, you will build an online reputation. It’s a little like witchcraft: you only get the magic results you want if you speak the right spells. Online, the spells — your intention — come in the form of posts, tweets, videos, webinars, infographics, products and services pages on your website — all the content you openly share (and people consider valuable) online. It’s very Genesis: “In the beginning was the Word” and “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and now is indexed online and is with Google.
If you spend all your time writing about Dungeons & Dragons or motorcycles or your travels or raising your kids, you’ll surely develop a personal online reputation but that reputation will be based on your prowess and experience in D&D, bikes, traveling, and being a mom or a dad. Don’t get me wrong: sharing yourself and portraying yourself in your full depth and glory, showing how you’re a three-dimensional person worthy of both admiration and a strong attraction to work with you on a daily basis is great. But, if you want a reputation in online reputation management, you need to write about ORM, if you want a reputation on SEO you need to write about SEO, and if you want a reputation on marketing, you really need to stop just doing marketing and keeping all your processes and techniques black-boxed and secret. You need to become a teacher, a lecturer, and a tutor, and make sure all the benefits of your experience find their way into publicly-accessible videos, articles, blog posts, and even infographics and presentation decks that you can put onto Slideshare.
So, start today. Start right now. You may not be getting the sort of engagement, comments or feedback that your boss or your board or your beancounter wants, but you’re also performing for Google. Of course that bean-counter is correct: it doesn’t hurt to be popular. The more popular your content is, the more Google notices, on all platforms. But even going through the motions does help. And if you ask any SEO or SEM or ORM specialists, they’ll remind you that your first 6-18 months is just you in a room playing piano for nobody. Don’t expect any real attention or popularity no matter how hard you work or how witty and well-hewn your copy or quip is. There are exceptions, surely — overnight successes! That said, chat with most overnight successes and they’ll admit that they’ve spent the previous decade working tirelessly but leading lives of quiet desperation.
I’ve written a lot about online reputation management, search engine optimization, and Google. Here’s just a short list most relevant to ORM and online reputation, but feel free to go down the Chris Abraham rabbit hole — I’ve been doing exactly what I recommended you do here since 1999 and I surely do dominate my Search Results — and you can, too — and you can start preparing here:
- Google Search is more Rain Man than Beautiful Mind
- Search + Social = Online Reputation Management
- Digital and Online Reputation Management by Chris Abraham of Gerris for The Social Media Monthly
- Dominate your personal brand on Google Images
- Why you must armor your online reputation
- Winning an online reputation “land war in Asia”
- The synergy between social media and search
- Digital and online reputation management
- Are there nudie photos of you online?
- Your own personal Fappening
- Own your online reputation with help from your friends
- Playing the Online Reputation Shell Game
- An Online Reputation Management (ORM) Primer and Howto
- Digital and Online Reputation Management
- Remove those regrettable online reputation tattoos
Good luck going through your mandatory quiet desperation — you’ll get through it! I have faith!