Thanks to a recent addition by Google – Google Profiles – you can now at least ensure that you have some presence that you control on the first page of search results. Here’s how it works and how to take advantage of it:
1. Since “Google Me” has become part of our vernacular, all you need to do to get started on your Google Profile is do a Google search for “me” (get it?). Google will then provide some guidance as to how to get started with your profile, but if you’d like to skip this step, all you really have to do is go to Google.
2. Keep in mind, once turned on, your Google Profile will show up on the front page (in the bottom of the search results) when people search for your name. Thus, it’s best to keep the profile strictly professional, and Google seems to have kept this in mind, as most of the information they ask is career-related.
3. If you already have a Google account – like Gmail – you probably already have some basic information in your Google profile. The key once you start editing this information is to make sure to include the information that people are likely to find you with.
Google has “nickname” and “other name” fields that you can fill out – be sure to complete them if you’ve ever been known by anything other than your given first and last name. There’s also a spot to add a profile photo if you don’t already have one from the other Google services you use.
4. Next up is Google’s set of questions about your employment and education history. Enter in your current company as well as any past employers you’d like to include, as well as the schools that you’ve attended. These will obviously help people separate the “Mike Smith who went to Dartmouth” from the “Mike Smith who went to Maryland.”
5. Google profiles also include an area for “a little personality,” asking for a short bio and some interests. It’s best to think of these fields in the same way you would your profile on LinkedIn – keep it professional and limited to things that you’d want to see potential business partners or former colleagues seeing.
6. Links are perhaps the most important piece of your Google profile. This is where you can direct people to your company homepage, LinkedIn profile, and other points of interest around the Web. Google tries to identify links that might already belong to you, but you can also insert as many custom ones as you’d like.
7. Finally, pick a URL for your Google profile. If you already have a Google account, you’ll be stuck with whatever the alias is (in my case, google.com/profiles/ostrow). If not, you’ll get some choice of what that URL will be – get your first name and last name if available, if not, include a middle initial or add a number to the end.
Now that your Google Profile is setup, be sure to opt-in so it shows up in search results. On the “About Me” area under edit profile, check the box that says “Display my full name so I can be found in search.” Under this box, you’ll also notice an option to turn on the ability for people to contact you via your profile. This essentially gives people a form that will send a message to your email address, without sharing it, so there’s not much harm in enabling the feature.
While Google Profiles aren’t the complete answer to owning your identity in Google’s all-important search results, they’re likely to become an increasingly important piece of your online presence. Take the time to ensure it paints you in the best light possible.