The day I realized I was a true search nerd was about 3 months before my wedding in 2010. I was deciding between keeping my former last name (Larson) and taking my soon-to-be-husband’s last name (Notman). At the time, I honestly felt that Notman was a lame last name, and really, why would I want to be called someone different from who I’ve been my whole life?
Until, one fateful day, I sat in front of my computer like I do every single day, and Googled myself. By Googling “Dana Larson” thousands upon thousands of results showed up – and the vast majority of them weren’t me. Turns out, Dana Larson is a very popular name.
Then, I Googled “Dana Notman” and… nothing. Well, not nothing, exactly. There was one Google result for some kind of class reunion roster where a gal named Dana was next to someone else with the last name Notman, and Google returned that result. And it hit me – there were no Dana Notmans in Google.
I COULD BE THE ONLY DANA NOTMAN IN GOOGLE!
And that is the moment I decided to take my husband’s last name.
It’s been 2 years since we got married, and I have not once regretted changing my name. And I still get a sick joy out of Googling myself to see which pages, tweets, and profiles about me show up in the SERPs. I am also glad that an old tweet from someone else named “Dana Larson” stating that she got wasted at a kegger last weekend doesn’t result for my name any longer as well.
But this is an important message for individuals and brands alike – in order to succeed, you must own your SERP.
If I’m Googling a brand, I expect to see a large variety of media types – including their website, their Google+ Local listing, social media profile pages, some news stories, images, videos and even blog posts – result for their brand name. If they don’t, and other brands or businesses are showing up instead, my perception is that this business isn’t terribly active online, and may not be a very strong brand to connect with or purchase from.
Additionally, not owning your SERP could cause a bit of confusion for your customers. If your brand name is somewhat ambiguous, and other businesses have similar names or URLs, you may lose some business when your potential customers click their search results instead.
Brands, when engaging in online marketing, need to understand what tactics should be taken to own their search engine results, and engage in those tactics. Make news easily shareable. Utilize microformats to get your videos and images seen easily. Create local listings for your brick and mortar locations. And ensure your branding is included in every piece of outgoing news, mail, and messaging you do. This will help your overall search visibility and online relevancy, as well as increasing the likelihood of you owning your search results page.