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The Internet is an unforgiving place – it never forgets. Whatever gets posted online, whether it’s a careless statement or a funny picture, it could very well backfire and hurt you in the future. It’s even worse when you share a name with a reckless individual who ends up ruining your reputation as much as their own. This is what happened to Pete, one of the co-founders of BrandYourself.
Pete was denied internships while in college because search results indicated he was a drug dealer. Fortunately, he had a friend, BrandYourself co-founder Patrick, who could help him optimize his search results. After they managed to solve Pete’s problems, the two of them decided to create a tool that would make it easy and free for everyone to control their online reputation. So, have you Googled your name, recently?
Taking Control Over Your Online Reputation
BrandYourself takes you through every single step of the process with clear and brief explanations. First, you set up your profile and the name you want to control in search engines.
In a following step, BrandYourself shows you the search results for your name on Google. You can now mark the results as positive, negative, or as a (neutral) link that is not you. Below is a screenshot of my top 3 results when I first set up BrandYourself two months ago. Two of my top three results I considered neutral because they were ‘not me’ (Facebook) or at least not specifically (LinkedIn).
Once you have marked all links, you can get your BrandYourself score and the site will take you through steps to improve your result and thereby your score.
Steps to improve your score include publishing your BrandYourself profile, submitting positive links you would like to see on your first page, and boosting your links to make them rank higher.
The boosting steps are particularly interesting. Essentially, there are four of them. First, you add the link you want to boost to your BrandYourself profile, then you link to your BrandYourself profile from the URL you want to boost (if possible), of course you need to add your name to the page you want to boost, and finally you share it with your social networks. In other words, BrandYourself uses its own reputation and that of social networks to pull your preferred links to the top of Google’s search results.
As the screenshots above reveal, the graphical user interface is very clear and simple. Nevertheless, if you are longing for more in-depth explanations, you can expand additional bits of information at almost every step. BrandYourself tries to be extremely transparent. While SEO is an incredibly hard to predict business, BrandYourself succeeds in using a few very simple rules to optimize your search results.
Does It Work?
Most likely yes, but I’m not sure it did for me. Below are my top 5 results after giving BrandYourself two months. As you can see, the LinkedIn result essentially didn’t move, the Facebook profile that wasn’t me dropped by two positions, and my own Twitter account moved up to position 3. While it is little wonder that the Facebook result was surpassed by my Twitter account and my more or less inactive Google+ account, I didn’t use BrandYourself to boost any of these links.
On the other hand, my progress report shows that there was quite a bit of movement in my search results. Although my overall score didn’t change, the result is satisfying. That said, it is a fact that my name is closely tied to MakeUseOf, which has a very good SEO ranking itself. Hence, my search results are pretty much optimized already since MakeUseOf probably is the biggest factor in regards to my search results. BrandYourself will probably have a much bigger impact for someone who barely has any of their own results on the first page of Google search results.
BrandYourself almost turns SEO into a fun game. In combination with regular email updates that remind you to update your search score or boost your links, this may make it seem dodgy at times. However, BrandYourself doesn’t make unrealistic promises and all explanations are credible, which underlines their professionalism. Besides, it’s completely free, unless you decide to upgrade to use advanced features. Once you understand the basic principles of how BrandYourself works, however, you can start boosting links yourself, without the help of the tool. BrandYourself just makes this fairly simply process more convenient and fun.
If you have used BrandYourself, please share with us whether it worked for you!