Privacy vs. Fame

Greta GarboThere 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.

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Posted in General. Tags: , . 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Privacy vs. Fame”

  1. netdud Says:

    One of the reasons that my site shows up quite high in the Google results for my name is that the domain registered in my name. I think Google is still operating on the quaint assumption that whois data for domains is more reliable than other (meta) data, which people can salt.

    Thanks a lot for blowing my cover, by the way. It’s nice not to have to wear the glasses any more, or do my bangs into that stupid spit-curl, but now Lex just comes over all the time, puts his boots on the coffee table, drinks all the beer in the fridge and when I tell him to leave, sez “What are you going to DO about it , Mr. Illegal Alien?”

    I don’t like how he looks at Lois, either.

  2. Derek K. Miller Says:

    Stephen, you need to have your name in the title bar of your blog — “About Bars & Marketing” ain’t gonna do it if you want people to find “Stephen Brooks.” Preferably you should have a headline somewhere in the text below too. In fact, the only place I can find your name on your home page is in THIS POST! No wonder you don’t show up high in Google searches. For Google to find it, it has to be there.

    Then get a few friend, like, er, me and Bill, to link to your site with the words _Stephen Brooks_.

  3. Derek K. Miller Says:

    Incidentally, for my own site, my name is in the title bar, in an H1 heading (hidden by my header logo), and in various other places like my About page. And it doesn’t hurt to have stuff like my name here at the top of this comment linking back to my site.

    So if you look for Derek Miller, no quotes, you get the Juno-winning musician (not me) in #1, then my site. Search for Derek by itself, and I’m #3, while the other Derek Miller is nowhere to be seen. That comes from lots of links, and having my blog at the same URL for more than 8 years.

  4. sbroox Says:

    Thanks for the advice, Derek. I made some quick changes.


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