I first talked to Patrick Ambrose while he was still a student at Syracuse University, working on the earliest version of BrandYourself. Ambrose and his co-creators saw first-hand how otherwise good kids were getting bad reps from silly social networking mistakes. The idea behind BrandYourself is to create a service to surface the good stuff about their online reputations but not break the bank paying some high-falutin SEO expert to do it for you.
So, how do you fix a reputation? The first is to know about it. The second is to do something about it.
Free of cost, BrandYourself lets you grade your reputation by taking a simple test. Identify yourself to the program, and it searches through Google, pulls up references to you, and asks you to identify whether the references are positive, negative, or don’t apply to you (I must admit I posed as one of my kids and checked out their online reputation, too so it’s not difficult to scam the system).
The next step costs anywhere from $2 to $10 based on your action plan. BrandYourself offers advice and tips every step of the way. You create a BrandYourself profile, submitting positive links about yourself. The website analyzes those links and suggests things you can do to boost the good links to the top. For example, you can share the good links with friends on social networks and keep adding more links. A meter keeps you informed on your improvement.
Your BrandYourself profile (which can be linked to all your other online profiles) automatically keeps watch for your name and can optimize the search engine results.
Pretty darn impressive: it’s basically the democratization of SEO. Without having to understand any optimization techniques, you can bring out the best in your online profile. Better still, you can identify a listing that’s not yours (even if it’s a person with the same name). One of the company founders got the idea for BrandYourself after looking for jobs only to find out that he and a convicted felon shared the same name.
Now, I don’t want to oversell this. James Holmes is not going to look good on the Internet no matter what he does, but BrandYourself gives you some modicum of control of your person Internet presence. It is a problem that it’s not hard to pose as someone else and actually give their online brand a walloping – all you need is an email and some links about them.
But if you’re out there trying to make yourself look good in a world where Google searches have become routine parts of the decision-making process, it couldn’t hurt to BrandYourself.
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