Journalists who want to own their names in Google need follow a few simple steps

My post critiquing the online activity of SPJ’s Mark of Excellence caused a stir. Predictably, not everybody liked it. But it also seemed to do some good. A few of the students mentioned came to the site with positive responses.

Claire St. Amant just left this comment on the post:

I came across your blog while googling myself, or “ego-surfing” as you call it. My site was in a bit of a holding pattern, but your critique spurred me on to further development—see I’ve also started a technorati account in hopes of generating traffic. Thanks for the shout-out and constructive criticism. Glad to see you’re back online, too. Oh, and I share your disdain for the “Frat Boys News” byline. Any advice on how I could get that moved down and/or off would be greatly appreciated.

Her site is considerably improved. She’s even got a blog going.

That is all to the good, I think, but if I were to go all Simon Cowell on her, and be “totally honest,” I’d warn against calling her blog posts “blogs.” I find that a common mistake among print people — I’ve seen print people call comments on stories, forum postings and individual blog entries all “blogs,” which isn’t quite correct. A blog contains posts. “Blogs” is a collection of blogs, not individual posts. You don’t post a blog; you post a post on a blog.

Also, I would recommend making her blog her home page, rather than a section of her site, and make everything else she wants to put on the site a section or separate page (such as her resume, pointers to her work, etc.) Blogs have mad SEO, especially if she can get some people to link to her, and would help her with that unfortunate byline on the Frat Boys site.

She asked for advice specifically related to pushing down the Frat Boys link in a Google search. I’ll offer some advice below, but hopefully others will jump in (and we could all do her a favor by linking to her site as Claire St. Amant, to improve her page rank and help her own her own name in search (which shouldn’t be hard, because it’s a fairly unusual name).

My advice:

  • Get a Facebook profile going. Use it to link to your site.
  • Start a LinkedIn profile (be sure to take advantage of the service that allows you to create a URL containing your name). My LinkedIn profile page does well in Google. Also, link to your site.
  • Start a profile page on Wired Journalists. Link to your site. My profile page hits the second page of a Google search for my name.
  • My Buzznet site ranks real high for my name in Google, so start posting photos to Buzznet.
  • Ditto for Flickr.
  • Grab your name, as in “clairstamant,” as a Twitter account. My Twitter account ranks high on Google.
  • Start a Digg account. Be a good Digg member and digg worthwhile links, but also when you do a good post, digg your own post. This will help with SEO, too. My Digg account ranks high on Google.
  • Start a YouTube account with your real name as your account name. This should rank high, then, in Google searches for your name. Of course, you’ll want to post some videos. I don’t know how other hiring managers would feel, but I’m going to look more at the spirit of the effort than the quality of the content. I’m not expecting your personal creative expressions online to be NBC ready.
  • Start a second blog. This is an opportunity to add a little SEO juice to your main, professional domain, and it gives you an outlet for personal expression, while keeping your site for professional purposes.
  • Always use your real name online — for EVERYTHING you do. Never leave an anonymous comment. Never use an assumed name. You want people to know you, find you, look for your, know who you are and what you do. Not only is posting anonymously unethical for journalists to do, it robs you of a chance to increase your visibility. Also, cheap and easy anonymity can lure you into a career-ruining mistake. Remember, you can always be found out.

Clair has two big advantage for owning her own name in Google (and other search engines). First, she a unique name; second, she’s had the forethought to register a domain with that name. All journalists with unique names should follow suit, and the Jim Smith’s of the world should work out some variation of their name, register tha

One other thing for Claire — who owns the copyright to the Baylor Lariat piece? The amount of the excerpt looks to go beyond fair use, so you or the paper might want to issue a DMCA takedown notice. That should get it out of Google eventually.

8 thoughts on “Journalists who want to own their names in Google need follow a few simple steps

  1. Yes, a thousand times on the blog vs post distinction.

    In addition to the “big name” social networks Howard mentioned, join social networks in the area where you’re living. If your town has a city wiki or Ning network, use it to pimp your blog subtly, e.g., put a link to it in your profile.

    Other, less name-specific things to do to get your blog posts into Google:

    Claim your site at Google and make sure your site has a sitemap that is updated with every blog post:

    (Most blog software will auto-generate a sitemap.)

    Make sure your blog software pings an update notification site, e.g.,, whenever you post.

    Also, you should also include direct links to all the stories in your portfolio in addition to pdfs, since many of your stories (e.g., the NYT piece) will never expire.

  2. I was wondering about whether or not it is a good idea to publish a picture of yourself on your personal page. On social media sites I use an avatar, I do not show my face. My facebook profile has a real picture, but somehwat from a distance. Claire St. Amant shows her back. I don’t know what’s best, any tips on this? (don’t know, maybe something for another post)

  3. Thanks for all the feedback. I’m looking to implement many of your suggestions so stay tuned for a new and improved site.

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