Googling yourself may seem like the ultimate exercise in vanity. For businesses, though, it’s vitally important. There are a number of reasons you might want to do it:
Why Google Your Brand?
Checking your page rank. To do this you don’t Google your name, but rather the keywords you want to rank on. If you are not on the first page, then you should refine your SEO strategy. Generally, you want to rank high for your service in your location. However, do this sparingly. Otherwise, you can interfere with any paid Google advertising campaigns you are doing. (It decreases your click- through rate if your ads show up and you don’t click on them and clicking on them is considered fraud.)
Finding compliments — and complaints — that aren’t on major review sites. Some people post a review on Yelp. Some people rant or rave about their own blog. You may have a problem you are not aware of if you only look for complaints on the major sites.
Making sure your brand is unique. You should always Google your proposed company name before settling on it to make sure that there is not already somebody using the same name in the same industry. More than one new company has had to change their name because they discovered — almost too late — that it was the same as somebody else’s. (If your brand is your name, consider adding your middle initial or middle name to disambiguate.)
Damage control. If somebody is saying things about you online that are negative and untrue (or even positive and untrue in a way that makes it look like you solicited them) you need to know right away. You can work on spinning your public relations. Avoid simple denials that can make things look true. Make the offending problem disappear or vanish into the bowels of Google.
Find copyright violations. If you work with IP, a quick Google search will help you find pirated material. You can then send the offending site a DMCA notification. (Bear in mind that full-blown pirate sites will generally ignore these.)
So, what is the right way to Google (or Bing) yourself? Here are some tips:
Never click on your own ads. This can get you banned from AdWords. Seriously. Don’t do it.
Resist the temptation to click on negative results about yourself frequently — this helps those results rank. Consider searching in privacy mode so that your clicks are not tracked.
Search roughly every week so you are on top of new results. (Most private individuals should search monthly, but companies and people with a “public face” need to do it more often.)
Remind key employees. To manage your company’s reputation, they should be careful of what they post.
Pictures of Employees –You might want to talk to an employee if the first picture of them that shows up is from last year’s Christmas party… Check for your logo and if you have a public-facing building for outside and inside pictures of the building. This can help you find more information about what is being said about you online.
Regularly doing an online search of your company, yourself and your key employees is an important way of controlling PR and finding out problems that your customers might not have mentioned. By doing so roughly once a week, you can help keep your reputation in order and properly grow your brand.