Controlling Your Online Reputation with a Custom Search Engine
I bet you’ve heard SEO takes months, sometimes years to optimize. When it comes to something as vital as the results displayed for your name though, you may not have the luxury of time. Luckily, you have alternatives. Using Google custom search will have you controlling all the results for your name or brand in a matter of minutes.
Google Search for your Website
So you’ve finally decided to take control of the content out there on the Search Engines regarding your online reputation. Well done! Part of managing your reputation online involves using the online reputation management tools (Many of them free monitoring tools like Google’s custom search bar) that are out there at your disposal. I’m going to demonstrate how you can use custom search engines to control the content for your name or brand. First, however, we need to find all the neutral or positive results Google already has for you. These are the sources you will use in this custom search search on your website a little later.
There are a few ways you can Google your own name, depending on your goals. You may want to see just what you are up against first, in terms of competition, as there may be plenty of other people out there with your same name. The best way to do so is to tweak the query search a bit with different search operators. I’ve tried out a few with regards to googling first and last names and probably the best is just “firstname lastname” (quotes included in the search) this way you are sure to get the full mention of the two names together in Google’s index. If you have an unusual name, you will see significantly fewer results than a more common name. For example: If you type into Google “zeffie zimmerman” you will only get 9 results where as if you type in “john smith” you will get 22 million results. Yikes. You may think you would prefer one situation over the other, but both have their pros and cons. For example, with a name like John Smith, you would have a pretty simple time staying under the radar. Zeffie, on the other hand, would have nowhere to hide: If it’s out there with her name on it, she better hope it’s something good! However, if you’re like the majority of us, your own name results will fall somewhere in between.
It probably didn’t take long for Google to figure that most people will probably share their first and last name with other people on this planet. Therefore, Google really does like to present as many appropriate options for the search as possible when presented with a bare or broad search (like John Smith) So you can see the kind of dilemma a person is facing if they want to maximize control the content for their name reputation but Google, in it’s ever ending desire to ensure a positive user experience, is constantly presenting multiple names and mixed results, right? So is it time to throw in the towel before you’ve even begun? Not at all. You still have the option to tightly control your content with the method I previously spoke of called ORM Funneling.
Online Reputation Management Funneling using a Custom Search Engine.
You may not be in a position to control all the general SERPs but, since Google is interested in continually promoting appropriate results, you are certainly in a position to put your best internet foot forward. In other words, pick a source that will be your authoritative source and use that for your ORM funneling efforts. You could go for a public Facebook page which Google already loves. Or you can set up an official tumblr or worpress.com blog. My recommendation, however, is own your own domain name. It’s professional, proactive and Google loves it.
Let’s bring it back to the situation at hand, shall we? When doing the search for “lauren starling” you’ll see approximately 2500 results. While this tells me what I’m up against in terms of competition, remember what I’m also needing to know is the variety of people Google is serving up for the broad search term Lauren Starling. So to be sure, do the search again, this time without quotation marks, bringing up all the different Lauren Starlings out there. Clicking to expand the the image to the right, you’ll see that I control 2 of the top 3 results for my name. Chances are a searcher is going to click on at least one of those top 3 results. This puts me in a great position to utilize that ORM funneling. One way that I have been doing it was to drop content links from one site to another, steering the audience in the appropriate direction. Another great way, however, is to create a Google Custom search on your site.
Google Site Search
Google Custom search is a platform that allows anyone to create their own Google Search Engine which will display only results you dictate. Can you see how this is optimal for the situation of brand and name control? You can add this search for your website with just a few lines of code that I’ll quickly walk you through.
Add Google Site Search
Start by clicking on Creating a Custom Search Engine. Note the “Sites to Search” category. The key is to enter in all the URLS that you already control, so that when someone searches your name in this Google site search bar, Google will only choose from these URLs when presenting results. To get a good list, I would recommend doing another search for your name to see what Google currently has indexed for you. This time try using a niche or geo qualifier. Appropriate qualifiers for me might be lauren starling seo, lauren starling orm, lauren starling houston…etc. Once you’ve added your urls and customized it the way you want it to appear to your audience, you simply click save, grab the code and put it where ever you’d like on your site. As you can see, I’ve put it in the side bar of this site and also in the top content of Lauren Starling.
So, go ahead and invite those hiring managers, potential clients or that college admissions board to use your custom search bar to make their research a bit easier. Everyone will soon find, that by adding Google search for your website, you’ve not only enhanced your searcher’s experience, you’ve just brought yourself one step closer to controlling the content for your online reputation.
Google Search Bar
If you have a moment, play around with the customized search bar on the top right side by adding in search terms surrounding my name. It should even autopopulate for you. Imagine how impressed your potential employer will be when they start to type in your name and John Smith Employee of the Month auto completes!!