Almost everyone has tried googling themselves, and almost everyone has had the same experience finding out that it’s incredibly difficult to distinguish one’s self on the web. According to Google, I was the US Ambassador to South Vietnam in 1973, have a foundation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of natural ecosystems, live in Queensland, Australia, and am a professor of avian sensory science at the University of Birmingham in the UK, among other things.
Here is what shows up on top of the Google results for my name:
Although that is a rich life, none of it can actually be attributed to me. And when one is trying to build a new legal practice, getting your name equated with your practice is paramount.
Google is trying to address this by setting up Google Profiles—a way for individuals to contribute to the information provided when they are serached in Google. As part of a promotion for Google Profiles, last month Google offered 25 free Google-branded business cards to the first 10,000 people to order them. Although the promotion is long over, Google Profiles still offer another good way to enhance your online presence in an increasingly information-rich world.
I set up my own Google Profile initially just to get the free business cards. It turns out, though, that Google Profiles offer a nice balance between flexibility and privacy, allowing users to portray themselves in many ways, from straightforward and boring, to brutally honest, to whimsical. All you need is a Google account, which is conveniently free.
Setup is easy: Choose a picture, choose your heading and the information you want to use to portray yourself to the public, and include your contact information. Contact information stays private, and you can choose who gets to view it. That way you don’t have to worry about bots scouring the page and selling your contact information to 14 million spammers and junk mailers. To learn more about setting up your Profile, go here.
I included the address of my business website as well (even though it’s not yet complete), which comes with a couple of benefits. It provides people a way to contact me even if they can’t see my contact information on my Profile. And it also serves to put my web address on another page, which helps increase my website’s ranking on Google. (For more on how Google ranks pages, see here and here.)
Now I can hand out those fancy Google business cards I got, with my profile address right on the card. And when someone searches my name, my profile shows up at the bottom of the first page. Easy!