Beginner's Guide To Showing Up on Google (and Other Search Engines)

Trevor Elwell
Trevor Elwell Chief Culture Officer, BrandYourself

Posted on July 14th 2011

Being GoogledThese days you are more than just a person, you are a brand.  Companies aren't hiring people without first reading through their social networks and people seem to interact with each other online more than they do in person.  This creates a huge problem: how do you make sure that what shows up when your name is searched is positive content?  I know plenty of amazing people who either do not have an online presence, or look silly online- either way, their online reputation is only hurting them.  Here are some tips for beginners on how to fix common problems with your online reputation and how to show up on search engines. 

PROBLEM #1: I Don't Show Up When My Name Is Searched

This is a very common problem- people will search their name looking to find their social networks and find NOTHING!  Why is this happening?  Well there are a few good reasons.   

How much content do you have online?  Lots of people only have a few pages on the Internet and expect them to show up on Google.  Unfortunately, unless this content is heavily optimized for your name that is not going to happen (see this search engine optimization guide for more details). 

Are you using your real name?  Many people will use an abbreviated version of their name or a pseudonym on their social networks and think that these networks will still show up for their name: they won't!  If you want to have a 'secret' identity on a social network realize that you aren't going to show up on search engines.  

I have tons of content but it's not ranked high!  There are a couple of reasons why this may be happening.  First you should see if your content is indexed by Google and other search engines (you can do this by searching for your URL in these search engines).  If you site is not indexed then have a look here for some tips on how to get indexed. If you are indexed then your content is not very optimized and you need to read the search engine optimization guide above and boost your pagerank!

PROBLEM #2: There Are Negative Things About Me When I Search My Name

How the content got there is irrelevant, what matters is how you handle it.  First of all you're going to have to digest some potentially difficult information: REMOVING NEGATIVE CONTENT WILL NOT FIX YOUR PROBLEM!  If you contact a webmaster and try to make them take down negative content a couple of things could happen.  The webmaster could kindly delete the content, but unfortunately the page will still most likely be cached in search engines and will still show up when your name is searched.  Or the webmaster could just ignore you, after all they don't have to take down the content.  Whatever you do, don't get them mad at you because then you're in for an even bigger problem. 

So how do I get rid of negative content?  The only way to get rid of negative content is to replace it with positive content.  I'm sorry that there isn't a quick fix but this is the only 100% effective way to eliminate bad press.  Create lots of content and make sure that it is optimized for your name better than the negative content is- that is how you remove it. 

PROBLEM #3: Someone With The Same Name Shows Up When I'm Searched

This problem is fortunately fixed the same way as problem #2: get more content and make sure that it's optimized for your name. 

Many people are very put-off by the fact that there is no quick-fix for showing up online.  This is an unfortunate realization but let's face it, if it was so easy then everyone would do it!  This gives you the advantage- you WANT to show up for your name more than everyone else so you're willing to take the time to make quality content that is optimized for your name.  Good luck and if you have any questions about managing your online reputation or showing up in search engines feel free to email me here




Trevor Elwell works for a personal online reputation management service based in Syracuse, NY.  BrandYourself provides a system that allows users to easily control their online reputation- try it for free here.  BrandYourself also has a blog that provides information on social media, SEO, job search, and much more: Check Out BrandYourself's blog.

Trevor Elwell

Trevor Elwell

Chief Culture Officer, BrandYourself

Trevor Elwell is the Brand Manager and Community Manager for, a startup company based in Syracuse, NY that specializes in helping its users get high quality content that they control to the top of search engines. Whether you're going in for a job interview, working with a customer, or going on a date- you're going to be Googled. Use BrandYourself to help you put your best foot forward online.
See Full Profile >


Posted on July 14th 2011 at 8:28PM

Another key thing is using your own domain name and the power of larger social networks to your advantage. If you search my name you'll first see my domain name then Twitter, LinkedIn and Google. My name is on countless sites buried deep in the next page but because each of those sites are so much more important (SEO wise) they will be at the top. If you're worried about questionable content turn on all your privacy setting EXCEPT for search engine location. You'll still show up in the search and you don't have to worry about a potential employeer seeing something you don't want them to.

I'm always available to answer questions on twitter @erichsparks

Ambassador of Social Response

Posted on July 15th 2011 at 12:35AM

Another great way to increase the likelihood of your name appearing in Google searches is to engage (comment on) blogs that have high visibility. Do a Technorati search on the top 100 or so blogs within a particular category that you're familiar with and can speak to, and start commenting on those blogs. This may also help to "push down" content that may not be favorable towards you.

Posted on July 15th 2011 at 11:51PM

Hi Trevor, great blog may i add some points which are more enterprise specific, they actually helped me personally generate over $1m sales back in 2007...

A) Many companies forget time and again, the way spiders work on web is they crawl and if they see your key words highest # of times on your home page you automaically get more attention. thats how the logic works, so try and put as many times as possible your key word in meta tag and the first 6 sentences on your home page. This will get you high ranking

B) To link exchange, this is one fundamental many forget, the more links you exchange the more chances of your appearing higher on site


C) Make sure you blog like Sayo says in his comments, its important to share experiences which are genuine . What we did, in my current company is back in 2007 we wanted to get into new verticals, so we blogged, found out editors in that space, commented on their blogs, got noticed as our points were valid and they wrote about your products. Remember every editor is looking for a story which will help break some news to their readers , so might as well be your story if you believe in your products.

Hope this helps

Posted on July 18th 2011 at 1:22PM

Amit, Sayo, and Erich:

These are all great tips thanks for your comments!