Starting your own business can really wrack those nerves. There’s more to do than one person can humanly accomplish, never enough time to do it and, usually, everyone keeps asking you how it’s going (GREAT! is the obvious, standard response). One of the first things you do with your business is think up a name. Oftentimes borrowed from your own.
Except for me, my name is John Byrne. Do you like superheroes? Then you’ve definitely heard of this guy. Are you a business news junkie or LinkedIn aficionado and know this influential guy? Or maybe you have a thing for Tilda Swinton (and really, who doesn’t, right?) and might be familiar with this guy. Maybe you live in the Chicago area like me and follow politics in the Chicago Tribune and read articles by this guy. Yeah, none of them is me.
That’s why I decided to use Glencoe Media Group as the name of my new company. Just using my name, or even a part of it, would get me lost in a sea of (what I presume) is a bunch of pasty white Irish guys (redundancy?). No offense intended, of course.
Some of my best friends I’m one, too.
What are you supposed to do when a famous person shares your name, and more importantly, cleans your clock on Google search results? Thanks to all the comic book fanboys, and their incessant comments on forums and electronic bulletin boards, the most famous John Byrne takes up something like 110 of the first 100 Google search results for our name. LinkedIn isn’t much better. Search for “John Byrne”? More than 1,000 results returned. Hello? Invisible Man? Want to start a support group?
I know what you’re thinking. Could be worse, right? And yes, it certainly could be. Could have been named Justin Bieber or Abraham Lincoln. Try competing on social media with the Biebs? Fuhgeddaboudit. And even without our wonderful digital age, it’s always been a bit of a problem. The Washington Post even wrote a cute story about it here. (But seriously, what kind of parents with the last name of Earhart would name their daughter Amelia? That’s just creepy.)
Apart from changing my name, adopting a non de plume, or hiring Tony Soprano, what is an aspiring writer extraordinaire and communications czar gotta do to crack into Google search results in any meaningful way? Before I answer that question, my wife would like to point out that she, in fact, did change her name upon the occasion of our wedding. From the almost-never-misspelled (except in Minnesota, perhaps) Peterson, with-an-o, to Byrne. Yes, you can send her your condolences, if you like.
Back to answering the Google name doppelgänger issue: Well, this very thing you’re reading right now is one way to ratchet up the results. Google counts quality content, and lots of it, as one of the ways bloggers and others can rise high in its search results. Bing uses… oh, nevermind. No one cares about Bing.
There are also services you can use to help improve your personal brand like www.brandyourself.com (yes, I’m giving it a try). This service and others give you all sorts of tips to optimize your name and get it to show up higher in search results. Fortunately, I don’t need any other services that try to eliminate negative online references from showing up, like arrest records and embarrassing Twitter or Instagram postings.
Just trying to be visible on other types of social media is supposed to help, too. Posting there, tweeting, liking things, commenting on others’ posts… it’s all good. Maybe it’s not worth it in the end, but I figured I would attempt to do it as much as possible, hopefully for free. So far, it’s too early to tell if it’s starting to make any difference. Google me in a month, and you’ll know.
In the meantime, I gotta go tweet something.