Thursday, February 5, 2009

That's Just What I Was Saying...

A writer for The Wall Street Journal, Julia Angwin, shares her experiences and some some thoughts on how you can improve and (hopefully) manage your turn out on Google SERP.

For those not in the know, SERP stands for search engine results page. It's the ten links that turn up on each successive page when you run a search in any of the major search engines. For individuals, it can be a hard route to improve what turns up, especially if you're not generating content. And if your top results are embarrassing? You'll want to move fast.

When Angwin approaches Google to see if they can help her remove her top link, an article with which she's not particularly pleased, they explain to her that the best way to get what she wants turn up in the results is to generate more content. She also learns that interlinking your various content platforms – that is, putting a link to your Facebook profile on your LinkedIn profile and mentioning both in your Twitter feed – can give a huge boost to your efforts. The more mentions you make of something in a site or forum or feed, the better that something's SERP will look to you.

While it is easy to start out pushing up your content, what remains key is that you yourself have to take responsibility for keeping your results the way you want them. Consider what happened shortly after Angwin began her project:

Still, visibility has a downside, which I unwittingly learned. The day that Apple Inc.'s Chief Executive Steve Jobs announced his "hormonal imbalance," I went on camera with a colleague at to talk about the possible impact on Apple's business.

Within hours, Apple enthusiasts at started trash-talking me and my colleague for allegedly casting aspersions on their leader. As a result, these posts, some of them quite vulgar and nasty, shot up near the top of my search-results page.

Just as you have to take ownership of your online presence, whether you're a company or an individual, you also have a responsibility once you're out there to monitor your internet reputation. As long as it takes to build a good one, it can be torn down within hours.

Luckily, Angwin's story has a happier ending:

Luckily, they sank back down to the fourth page of my results within two days.

The whole unpleasant experience was an object lesson in another aspect of SEO: It's never over. You can work to boost your results, and then lose control in an instant. Constant vigilance is required. That's why big companies hire experts to monitor their search results on a full-time basis.

If you're not out there making your best case for yourself, who's speaking for you? And what are they saying?

Shouldn't you find out?

And who can you turn to for help in keeping your good name good? The David Group can help.

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