There has been a lot of hoopla about online privacy in recent years, most notably the news that Facebook had been sharing its users’ profile data with advertisers. Lately I’ve been more concerned about the other direction: how do I get the Internet to know more about me?
If you google “Stephen Brooks” you will find the previous champ at that search has been dethroned. Until recently, the most Web-famous of my namesakes was a b-list actor who was most known for being a Star Trek redshirt that actually survived to the end of an episode. Today, though, the number one search result slot belongs to Dr. Stephen Brooks of Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Computer Science. I won’t go into the reasons why his academic page (not even a real site) has passed the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) listing of the actor – the field of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is way more than a single blog post can handle.
My concern is more around why don’t I rank higher? I don’t show up in the search results until the mid-50s, and that’s not even my blog. I do much better with “bars & marketing” – #1 with the quotation marks (explained below) and #20 without. But I’m far far far from where people will know the title of my blog more than my name. My friend’s blog is also at #1 when you search for its name, “Netdud,” but then it’s easy to get made-up words to the top. What’s impressive is to get his own name, which is composed of two English words, “Bill” and “Arab,” to register, and he’s soaring at the number 3 rank on a search for his moniker.
If I was really serious about it, of course, I could buy my name in Google Adwords. But I’d rather that the big bad identity-thieving internet found me by itself.
Explanation for search neophytes: When you place quotes around search terms in Google, it only returns links to that exact set of words in that exact order. So a search for bars and marketing, without the quotes, provides a bunch of sites where those three words appear anywhere on the page (and I end up 20th); but “bars & marketing” with the quotes selects my blog as the most appropriate match, because I have that exact phrase.