Thursday, September 12, 2013

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The BrandYourself Experiment

Consultants take a particular interest in their web presence. Independent consultants, particularly those without a catalog of current clients, benefit from having Google search results that potential clients can easily use to confirm that this new contact is in fact someone that they would like to form a partnership with. Tools that allow you to optimize your search results and monitor your traction on the web without requiring a deep technical understanding definitely have a place in this space.

New start-ups are being founded all the time. Occasionally I see something that looks interesting but I usually file it away as something to check up on in a few months. Recently, I came across and article on Hacker News about . The premise behind BrandYourself is that it will help you take control of your name in Google's search results by analyzing your Internet profiles and offering search engine optimization tips. BrandYourself will also provide a new optimized profile with links to your various profiles as an additional tool for boosting your search results.

This is the first post of what will be a multi-part series on the effectiveness of Brand Yourself. I will use only their tools to evaluate and improve my search results. For the first 6 weeks I will use only the free version of the software. At that point I will add the premium account which allows you to add more than three links for evaluation. I will then re-evaluate the search results after another 6 weeks and give a final verdict on the effectiveness and intuitiveness of BrandYourself.

First, let me explain a little bit about my name and why I think this will be an effective test of BrandYourself's recommendations. My name is Raymond Robinson III but I have gone by Trey my entire life. Professionally my colleagues know me as Trey but academically my name appears as Raymond. Up until this point my social presence has been split between Raymond Robinson, Trey Robinson, and Raymond "Trey" Robinson depending on the social network.

This experiment has prompted me to do something that I should have done long ago. I have now updated all of my profiles to use Trey Robinson as the publicly displayed name. This is something I had been meaning to do for some time but BrandYourself made it a clear recommendation.

Obviously having two different names as part of your web presence will hurt your search results. The screenshots below from the BrandYourself search results make that really hit home:

 For my profile choices I added my LinkedIn Profile , my Twitter , and Google Plus accounts. For the second part of this experiment I will likely add this blog, github, and potentially my public Facebook profile.

After adding the links and "boosting" them for "points" this is my profile result:

Boosting my profile to near max levels took about 30 minutes at the most. There are are a few things that I did not do or that require premium accounts. Primarily I did NOT share each of my social profiles across every social stream. I am not in the business of spamming my profiles. I did share the BrandYourself profile on twitter.

So far the tools seem intuitive and everything makes sense. Most of the things they ask you to do could be done on your own. The only thing they really seem to provide, that you would not otherwise have, is the aggregated profile. There are alternatives to profile aggregation like if you are looking for an alternative.

Here is my final profile: Trey Robinson

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