There was once a time where I was proud of being anonymous on Google, type in Rachel Barkley and I may as well not have existed. The tides have changed now, both in my opinion of Google anonymity and the search engine results!
In a recent class at university we were encouraged to find out what results our names would produce from Google, and it was brought to my attention that the images relating to Rachel Barkley included those of scantily clad ladies, who I hasten to add were not of myself.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is important, we want to know that when we write useful information that it will be received by the the right people, asking the right questions.
As future graduates we have been repeatedly told the importance of ensuring that Google does not reveal any embarrassing or potentially harmful secrets about us, from drunken photos to social media rants about employers. While it is vital that this information is not found, it is important that we can be found if someone is searching for us. Whether this be through a blog, social media site (Twitter, Linkedin etc.) or perhaps through news stories we have been featured in.
I still find it strange when I find people have found my blog through searches such as, ‘Rachel Barkley ultimate frisbee’ and ‘Rachel Barkley PR’, it seems strange not knowing who these people are and why they are looking so specifically for me. On the other hand it does demonstrate that I do have a visible online presence. What I do like is when people reach my blog through searching for terms on Google which directly relate to topics I have written about, in my opinion that means I am doing my job, whether they are satisfied with the results or not, I could not tell you.
The spelling of my name is somewhat unique and as a result I am relatively easy to find online, having said this I am still in competition with Rachel Barkey, a women with a strong online presence who lost her battle to cancer in 2009. In theory having different names means she should be no rival to my Google presence, but in reality frequent misspellings of her name across the web have resulted in Google identifying her as Barkley.
Trying to compete with a dead woman’s online memorial and drowning out the good work she did in her lifetime does not settle well with me, and while my name has creeped up on Google’s results I actually am happy to see she remains at the top of the list. However, search for ‘Rachel Barkley PR’ and it is a different story, my online work dominates the front page. This is a lesson in understanding what your audience to be searching for when they find your page, in my case I want them to be interested in communications, PR and all the other topics I write about.
In conclusion, it is important to monitor your personal presence and reputation online, whether you are trying to manage a bad image, or trying to increase your presence. These are skills that are transferable throughout the PR industry and are brilliant to learn to develop as students.
- Why Content Strategy Is Crucial for Social Search #SESlondon (stateofsearch.com)
- Social Media and SEO: 5 Ways They’re Working Together (vendio.com)
- A content strategy is crucial for social search (elementalcomms.co.uk)
- Small Business Tips for Better Google Rankings (houstontexasseo.com)