Personal Branding: This Is How Google Shows Who You Really Are

Nowadays, we search and review people online. This 'Google test' helps us evaluate people, despite if we ever met this person.  Especially when we can’t find anything online or even worse, when we find negative things. In this blog you’ll find out what ‘test’ Google runs to evaluate the quality of websites.

I describe the similarities between this test and the real life opinions people have. You also read what you can do to influence your Google search results positively. Without you being aware, Google can show someone, that doesn't reflect you. So, make sure, you know what people find about you and that it reflects the real you. The good news is that there’s a step-by-step plan you can follow to pass this Google-test with glance.

Let’s google

Let’s say you want to create a new website and you are looking for a great web designer. What are you going to do? In most cases you ask colleagues, friends, acquaintances and family members if they can recommend someone. Friend A, Acquaintance B and Family member C all recommend someone else. They probably give you a first and last name.

What are you going to do next? You google this person for information. The results you find combined with the recommendationwill make you decide whether you want to do business or not.

Google can't find anything on the recommendation of Friend A. The recommendation of Acquaintance B is a bit unclear because this person takes pictures, writes copy, teaches painting workshops and designs websites once in a while. So, is this person really a professional web designer? You decide to google the third recommendation as well. Now, you get a clear LinkedIn profile, this person lives nearby, is specialized in SEO and creates websites for companies in the creative industry, which look great. This is the person you were looking for! This proofs that running a Google test is useful and that it can provide you customers.

The Google test

Google developed a test to evaluate the quality of websites. They wrote this test down in the Google Quality Rating Guidelines. It’s the Google Handbook that trains people how Google’s algorithm succeeds in rating the quality of websites. Google wants people to focus on three quality requirements: expertise, authority and trustworthiness, together called EAT.

Expertise: People want to do business with people that know what they are talking about.

Authority: This is a higher level of expertise. You can be an expert on a certain topic, but still people might never heard of you. When people listen to you, recommend you and share your vision, you are officially an authority in your field.

Trustworthiness: It takes time to trust someone, so you have to earn this trust, just like in the offline world. That’s why it’s important to take your time to build your online personal brand, so you can develop it steadily. Once you’ve earned the trust , people will put you on their shortlist much faster. The need to replace you for someone else decreases.

High quality websites

Google recognizes high quality websites on a couple of distinctive features. These features answer reader’s questions, provide useful information, contain links and trustworthy resources and create an engaged audience.

What Google does to determine the quality of websites comes close to how we, in real life decide if we work with someone or not.

Source: Quandra Adams

Source: Quandra Adams

How you can pass the Google test

How do you make sure you pass the Google test yourself? You can use the old sales rule ‘know, like, trust’. When people really know you, like you and trust you, they are open to your offer. The above image shows this very clear. It tells you which questions we ask ourselves when we evaluate someone online.

Step 1 'Know' – Start branding yourself

Questions the ‘searcher’ asks him-/herself:

  • Who is this person?
  • What does this person?
  • What does this person has to offer me?

First, it’s important to be found. That’s why people find search engine optimization (SEO) so important. It doesn’t mean you have to run a complete SEO campaign. You can start with the following things:

- Use Content Marketing: Create and distribute valuable and relevant content

Content Marketing offers huge opportunities to show your expertise. There are many different ways to tackle this. This confuses people and that's why they don’t know where to start. How can you convey your message best? With blogs, video’s, infographics, webinars, and podcasts? And which platform(s) are you going to use to distribute it? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Google+, Periscope, YouTube et cetera. The trick is to keep an eye on your audience, what platform(s) they use and what kind of content they prefer to consume.

- Publish your content on a successful medium  

Create a list of blogs, publications and media outlets that aim at the same audience as you. Why do you want to be mentioned in their medium? Why do you want to create content for this medium? What do they get in return? A collaboration is only interesting when it adds value for all the involved parties (for you, the platform or medium outlet and their audience).

Step 2 - 'Like'- Increase your like factor

Questions the ‘searcher’ asks him-/herself:

  • Do I like this person?
  • Does the story trigger me?

This doesn’t mean you have to please everyone. The only thing that matters is that you’re desired audience likes you and your story. So:

- Be authentic

Be yourself for 100 percent. We are all unique, so you are your own unique selling point (USP). Share your interests and believes. This may sound familiar, but being authentic is harder than you think. It’s easy for people to portray someone they’re not, especially online. Sooner or later, the online and offline will meet. Then, people find out who you really are.  So, avoid bluffing, duplication and overly optimistic behavior.

- Show your human side

People are strongly drawn to other people. We even tend to see faces in lifeless objects. This phenomenon is called pareidolia. We project our human attributes on objects. No wonder, we talk about ‘humanizing brands’, brand personalities and social brand names. So, give your name a face! How visible are you right now? Are there any search results online that display a face to your name? Maybe a photo when you google yourself? How compelling and recent is that photo?

Step 3 - 'Trust'- Don’t forget about trustworthiness

Questions the ‘searcher’ asks him-/herself:

  • Is this person an expert?
  • Can this person help me?
  • Does this person helped others successfully?

What can you do when the searcher finds various people that meet the expectations? How does this person decide with whom he/she does business? This often depends on the perception of the searcher wether someone is trustworthy or not. To make sure the searcher has enough information to make a decision, you can do the following things:

- Share your best work

Did you ever get something for free, and thought: “I’m curious what this person would give me if I paid hem/her?”. That’s the idea. Don’t be afraid to share important, high quality information and resources. Whatever it is you give away, make sure your audience finds it valuable.

- Be consistent

Whatever you do to increase your online visibility, make sure you're consistent. Publish and communicate the same topics or theme’s related to each other. Stay true to your area of expertise and don’t change your point of view all the time. Repeating your message increases your trustworthiness. That’s how people evaluate if your sincere or not.

- Be generous and thankful

Engage your audience with your work and build online and offline relationships. Talk with other people and share their content. Show your greatful for every milestone. A simple ‘Thank you’ can help a lot!

Step 4 - 'Conversation'- Be reachable

Questions the ‘searcher’ asks him-/herself:

  • How can I reach this person?
  • How are we going to start?

The searcher chose to work with you, or at least contact you. It annoys the searcher when he/she can't find your contact information. It’s reason for someone to choose for someone else instead of you.

- Make your email address visible

Make sure your email address is visible so the searcher knows he’s emailing the right person. Many people use ‘info’ in their email address. A disadvantage is that the sender doesn’t know if his/her email ends up with the right person. Do you only use a contact form on your website? Many people leave your website because of the same reason. So we recommend you to mention your email address in your LinkedIn profile or, if applicable, add it to your contact page on your website.

- Be verifiable

If you have a name that occurs often, it’s advisable to add some additional information. In that way doesthe searcher know he/she reaches out to the right person. You can add a (profile) picture, a company name or information about your location.

-     Ungoogle yourself

Do search results appear that don’t match your desired online reputation? You don’t have to reach out to Google to remove those search results. Google rarely removes content, only if it violates their own terms. In most cases, you can contact the administrator of the webpage where you found the search result you want to remove. Tell them what the content is about, where you found it and that you want to remove it. This information will then be removed in Google and the webpage where you found it.  

Do you publish content you rather not want Google to find it? Like a hobby that has nothing to do with your online reputation? Than you can use the following HTML-metatag: <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow” />  Be aware that, whatever you do online, nothing is completely secret.

Control your online reputation

So, there are things you can do to pass the Google test. It’s best to repeat the steps on a regular basis, because the online world changes rapidly. In this way, you can better control your online reputation. If needed, you can intervene in time.   

I’m curious for your thoughts. Have you found something about yourself you weren’t happy with. How did you solve it? What did you do to influence the search results about yourself? What works best for you and what didn’t?

Photo: 123RF