"How well is your Internet working?"

This is a question I often ask my colleagues.  Many of them have both personal and professional websites.  Several have blogs.  Others have accounts on Myspace.  Until I get into the meat of the question, they all assume their web presence is fairly well-defined.  "If my clients can find me, then the Internet is working in my favor."  This statement, although seemingly innocuous, is a very dangerous state of mind to have.

When you put my name in Google, you get several results.  There are a few activists, loan officers, and lawyers.  There is a guy who is way too into his cars and even a death row inmate from Arizona.  In the top 10 hits, though, all you see is my profile on LinkedIn.  With just my name alone, the Internet is not working in my favor.

However, if you Google the phrase "Eric Mann marketing," you get an entirely different set of results.  I am actually five of the top ten websites immediately returned.  While this means I am easy to find for people who know I do marketing, potential clients interested in learning just about me will be at a loss with the first set of search results.

I have a certain set of tools to combat the potential confusion of searching for my name.  Since these are free tools, I have no problem explaining them here:

  1. I use meta tags on my website.  These tags include an ever-increasing list of keywords possibily attributed to my site.  Search engine robots will see these tags and update their own databases, making it easier for people looking for "brand marketing" and "marketing strategy" to find my website.
  2. I have labelled my website with ICRA.  This is a voluntary content labelling system that avails my website to more search engines.  In addition, it allows parents to see my website is safe for their children to view.
  3. My web hosting company allows for search engine submission.  This sends my web URL and a description of the page to Google, Yahoo!, and several other search engines on the web.
  4. Ever heard of LinkedIn?  How about Ecademy?  I use both, and the right combination of search terms brings up my profile from both sites.  More frequent use of both will drive your place in the search results higher, too.
  5. I network.  The more business contacts I make, the more traffic I receive on my website.  This drives up the score my website gets on the search engines and makes me far more visible online.

Those are just a few ways to make the Internet work better for you and help your business as well.  If a potential customer "googles" your name and gets a listing of retired film stars, chances are good that you won't get their business.  If, however, they type in your name and get a full page of your websites, blogs, and professional comments on other websites, then you can probably start typing an invoice.

How well is your Internet working?