I am amazed by how many people have never Googled themselves.  In today's world, it's increasingly important just what the Internet says about you - whether true or fiction.  Most of you understand this, and have taken the proper steps to protect yourself from online brand-hijacking.  Just think of how awkward that next job interview will be if the hiring manager comes in with an image of you painted by negative search results from the night before.  How might you be put at a disadvantage?

Think also of the budding new client who passes your widget by merely because you don't score high enough in Google's search results.  How mich this impact your bottom line.

Someone introduced me to the concept of a "Google score" quite a while ago.  As time has gone on, though, I've refined his method somewhat.  Follow these steps to calculate your Google score:

  1. Put your name into Google as it appears on your business card (i.e. 'Eric A Mann' or 'Jumping Duck Media')
  2. Give yourself a score of +2 for every search result that's actually about you and positive in the top 30.
  3. Give yourself a score of -1 for every negative one.
    • By "negative" I mean any result with which you don't want your reputation associated - even if it's about someone else.
  4. Create a new search with your name surrounded by quotes.
  5. Give yourself a score of +1 for every positive, relevant search result.
  6. Give yourself a score of -1/2 for every negative one.

Finally, divide the number you have by 30.  This is your "Google score."  Ideally, it should be on the range of 0.5 and 2.0.  You can't score higher than 3.0, and anything lower than 0.5 should be considered a non-presence online.

One of the most powerful brands in the world, Coke, has a Google score of about 1.73.  Apple has a Google score of 2.75.  My personal Google score is 0.60.  It's not nearly as high as it could be, but I'm also not a global player like Coke or Apple.  A good personal Google score (or score for a small/local company) will be on the range of 0.5 to 0.75.  Higher than that and you're golden.  Less than that and you're in serious need of some help.

For most small businesses, building an integrated online strategy is a distant dream.  It takes a lot of work, a lot of strategic planning, and can be costly if done the wrong way.  There are firms out there that specialize in helping small business leverage their strengths to develop rich online personas.

So take a minute to figure out your Google score.  Is it high enough that you don't need to worry?  Or should you look in to making a small investment in improving your results?  Either way, focusing on improving your online visibility is a smart return on whatever investment you can spare.