The Wall Street Journal has published an article recently titled “You’re a Nobody Unless Your Name Googles Well” that’s been making the rounds on various popular blogs. Reminds me of what I found when I Googled myself a short while ago. I took a screen shot of it and put it on my Flickr.
In the age of Google, being special increasingly requires standing out from the crowd online. Many people aspire for themselves — or their offspring — to command prominent placement in the top few links on search engines or social networking sites’ member lookup functions.
So, instead of doing it the hard way by starting a blog and building up enough inbound links to climb to the top on merit, people are resorting to assigning their kids very unique names in what is clearly black hat search engine optimization!
As for making sure people know Neil McIntyre means me, I’ve done the proactive thing and set up my identity at ClaimID and Wink. My ClaimID page also lists links to other Neil McIntyres, under the heading “Not Me”. Everyone should be setting up their own ClaimID and claiming things online that they’ve done or are about them.
ClaimID’s blog even has an entry related to the above article.
The approach that seems to be popular in identity search is a hybrid of search + claiming. Knowing that models will never fully disambiguate or find any one individual, the search engines allow individuals to claim related results, creating a dossier of sorts. Of course, this is the approach we’ve always taken in ClaimID – you know yourself, and we’re not going to try to design an algorithm that knows you better than you do.
Making a name for yourself has never been easier. At the same time, it is only going to get more difficult maintaining your name as the Web continues to grow.
Indeed, it’s such a challenge that there are blogs dedicated to the idea and art of personal branding, such as QuickSprout, which written by a fellow Neil. He blogs about branding through social networks like Facebook, provides some quick and dirty ways to brand yourself, and explains a key reason for taking control of your personal brand.
What are you doing to set yourself apart from the crowd? Will you do anything to ensure your kids are Google-able?