These Are My Confessions

I’ve got a secret.  I do Online Reputation Management, specializing in Brand/Name SERP domination and I don’t control all the SERPs with my own name, Lauren Starling.

I know. Shocking.

Lauren Starling SE Results 4-6
(Double click on the image to enlarge)

Before delving into the reasons behind this, let’s first take a look at where the term Lauren Starling sits right now. As you can see in the adjacent image, There are a couple of tweeners who happened to be named Lauren Starling ranking on facebook and myspace (I’m not sure if I was more surprised that myspace was still around, or that you could rank with it). There also appears to be a B grade film actress and as well as an aspiring chef that, seemingly, once took part in a reality show. As for my own content, with regards to Lauren Starling, my site is currently ranking #2 for my name .  I even have an image in there. Not so bad for the average person, but understandably, questionable if that average person also happens to make their living at SEO. So, how this happen?

Actually I didn’t. If you think about it, when potential clients or hiring managers are Googling names for their research, they are fully aware that many times, many different results will popup.  Consider a name like “Sarah Smith” and you’ve got 22 million results to sort through. So most people are well aware that they are going to have to type in something that follows that name, like perhaps the profession.  So if you Google Lauren Starling ORM (online reputation management) or Lauren Starling SEO you will see that not only are the first 20 results all about me (and not the above mentioned Lauren Starlings) but, and most importantly, they are all from content sources I controlSo why not stop there? If most people now a days know how to do a proper search to obtain what they’re really looking for and these people come up with results that I already control,  then why bother going any further?

ORM Funneling

Admittedly, I may be fighting a losing battle if my goal is to completely dominate the SERPs for Lauren Starling alone. Google is not likely to ever just present one result for a term that it already knows to be someone’s name. With currently over 400k results for the term Lauren Starling, Google is always going to want to give the searcher choices. So, then, what’s the main goal here? To encourage a process that I like to call ORM Funneling: Steering the searcher through a series of results controlled by the person holding the name or brand. In other words, if Google only permits a handful of same source results for your name, that’s ok, because if you control those handful of sources, then you can control where the user goes next.  For example, if the searcher only searches Lauren Starling alone, but is looking for me (and not the reality tv chef), most likely they will reject the other results and click on my bio site Lauren Starling, which usually hovers in the top #3 for Lauren Starling. Not only will that site present the information I want it to; In the first section of that site, you’ll see a link to this site.  When you click through and land on this site, you’ll find a sidebar on the right with links to all my other content on the web…and so on.  If a potential client is interested in dropping money on me, they are certainly going to want find out all they can and this way, starting through Google, they are heading down the right path.

Currently, my name and brand, (Lauren Starling) is fine.

You saw the results. Nothing scandalous or even remotely questionable going on.  Infact, sometimes convoluted results are actually what some people want (More about that in a second). The problem here being the word currently. What happens if/when things are not fine for Lauren Starling? I happen to work in a very competitive industry where everyone knows not only how to rank site, but also how to sink a site. Or worse, how to create fake content, possibly terrible content and then rank your name for that content. Trust me, I’ve heard (well, actually seen) horror stories. It’s not unforeseeable, that should I make an enemy out there, they turn their warrior keyboards on me. It would be wise to ensure that, at the very least, I not make it so easy for them to do so.  Paypal ORM problemThe way to ensure that is to give Google authoritative sites to use for your name and your profession for it’s top results. Think about it, Google may think it knows you and what you do, but if you don’t encourage a couple of sites to list in the top results for your name alone and someone else comes along set on destroying your reputation, someone could easily take your name or brand and make it rank for negative content, as it’s perfectly legal.

So while I’m quite content in the current results for both my name Lauren Starling and my name with certain qualifiers like Lauren Starling ORM, I would like to continue to tweak the results to see how much control I can take with regards to the SERPs for my name and brand. Most importantly, I want to show you, the average reader, how it’s done and empower you to do the same, because:

It’s your name; Own it.

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  • http://twitter.com/ScottAllen Scott Allen

    I’ve got a similar situation… problem is, “Scott Allen” is a far more common name than “Lauren Starling”. And there are at least 4 other Scott Allens who are “slightly famous online”.

    You’ve inspired me to get after it. Thanks. Also, I’m loving your blog — would love to connect directly, share ideas. I serve a particular niche — probably not competing directly. Let me know if you’re interested.