A few months ago I was launching my own personal Web site and I had the simple goal of getting it on Google’s front page when people searched my fairly common name: Rob Kelly.
Well, a search of “Rob Kelly” now places me first on Google’s front page.
I enjoy sharing learnings from such projects so I decided to deposit some of the knowls that helped get my personal website on Google’s front page right here in this article.
Warning/Alert: If you’re looking for SEO trickery to figure out how to game Google’s search engine, you’ve come to the wrong place! In fact, if that’s you, please leave right now…I don’t want your kind here!
The tips I’m sharing are logical/legitimate approaches to improving your Google website ranking in hopes of getting on the front page of Google in an honest fashion.
Ok, for the rest of you honest folk, let’s do it!
Let’s start with the obvious: The easiest method to get #1 on Google’s search results when people search “Your Name” is to start by naming your site “YourName”.com — if you already have YourName.com then you can skip to Google Front Page Tip #3 below.
I began this “Google Front Page” project researching other common names for people and seeing who ranked on Google’s front page (which typically lists 10 results).
My unscientific study started with picking the most common people’s names (like Rob Kelly) which I found on the Web and then looking at only the ones that came up on the first page of Google when you searched the name of the person behind the site (e.g. if you search “Joseph White” then JosephWhiteDP.com comes up on Google’s first page…and comes up first (hence the “1″ in the Rank on Google column).
The table below is a list of 20 examples of personal websites that ranked in the #1 position on Google’s front page — and then further below is the full list of 41 personal websites I looked at that had anywhere from a 2 to 10 Rank on Google (again, that means they cracked Google’s front page).
I used SEOBook (see How To Have X-Ray Vision About Your Competition) to help me with all these Google website rankings.
Note: I excluded exact match .com names (such as JosephWhite.com, BethJones.com, etc.) because Google almost always gives them a Google site ranking of #1 so there’s not as much to learn there.
Ok, so let’s cover some of the things I learned from looking at these 61 personal website examples and why they ended up ranking on Google’s front page.
Nearly 84% (51) of the 61 personal website examples that made it to the front page of Google were .com’s.
Four domain names were .org and three were .net and there was even a .me, .info and .la.
However, you’ll also notice that half of those non .coms were exact matches with the person’s name (i.e. LisaSmith.org, BobJones.org, Beth Jones.org, LisaSmith.net and SteveJones.me).
So, my advice: If you can get your exact name in a .com, .net or .org you should grab it; but if your exact name is not available in those domain suffixes, I suggest you buy a .com domain name and follow the rest of my advice below.
If you can’t a .com, .net or .org domain name with your exact first and last name (i.e. RobKelly.com), then I recommend that you consider four other options:
1) List your full name followed by a keyword
e.g. “RobKellyCEO.com” or “RobKellyAdvisor.com” or “RobKellyInternet” — I chose CEO, Advisor and Internet as the follow-up word since those are keywords related to what I do in life.
2) List a keyword followed by your full name
e.g. “CEORobKelly.com” or “AdvisorRobKelly.com” or InternetRobKelly.com”
3) Use your full name with middle inititial
e.g. “RobDKelly.com” (the name I chose!)
Note: I chose to use my full name with middle initial for stylistic reasons — I believe that if I had chosen options #1 or 2 above that I would have done just as fine with my Google website ranking.
4) A Hybrid (part of their name along with some other keyword)
e.g.You’ll notice that some of the people’s Web sites used a combination of their name and keyword with great success.
e.g. “OboeJoe.com” (by Joseph Robinson) and “JessicaKnows.com” by Jessica Smith).
Finally, if you don’t like any of the above and want to name your Web site something that doesn’t contain any part of your name, there are some success stories such as “VitalInformation.com” by Steve Smith and “VoiceTeacher” by David Jones.
But, why make your life so hard — stick to the 4 recommendations above (I personally prefer the first three!).
Note: There’s a good interview with a Search Marketing expert here called: How To Select The Best Domain Name To Attract Search Engines.
Finally, to get listed on the Google front page you have to put up good numbers.
In the spirit of Inevitability Thinking — I wanted to know what metrics for your Web site would make it inevitable that you would rank on page 1 of Google for your site.
So, now we have four more tips to add:
Your Web site home page should have a Google Page Rank of at least 2 and ideally it’s 3 or 4 or more.
What is Page Rank? It’s named after Google Co-founder Larry “Page” and is a rank (on a scale of 1 to 10) that Google assigns individual web pages within your site. Page Rank is reported to be heavily weighted as to the quantity and quality of links to your site. PageRank is a trademark of Google, though Stanford University owns the patent for it.
Click 9 Simple Tips For Showing Up In Search Results for some approaches to increasing your Page Rank (or Google Juice as some people call it).
That said, if you can follow all the other tips I’m providing, your Google Page Rank will by virtue increase from zero.
The typical Web site (of the 61 I looked at) has a median of 211 pages of content that are being indexed by Google.
RobDKelly.com currently has about 150 articles in it so that sounds about right to me. And by Content, I’m referring to any page of honest, quality content that you put up: articles you write, photos you take (ideally with some commentary), videos you take.
You’ll notice from the two Personal Website tables in this article that very few sites were able to get on the 1st page of Google with 10 or fewer pages of content — such sites are referred to as “Brochureware” and Google doesn’t typically rank these sites highly.
If you have 1,000 or more unique visitors per month, you will increase your chances of a top Google website ranking, according to the median of the 61 sites I looked at.
My own personal experience was the same: I got on page one of Google right when I passed the 1,000 monthly uniques threshold.
Click the Increasing Web Traffic section to find some articles related to this.
The 61 top personal websites had a median number of referral links of 485.
This means that 485 pages on the Web linked to their personal website.
note: links to you from other websites are most valuable but it is also valuable to have internal links (i.e. you link from one page of your site to another.
Check out How To Get Incoming Links To Your Blog or Web Site for some tips on getting other Web sites to link to you.
It took RobDKelly.com four months to get on Google’s front page.
This is fairly common as Google’s spider crawls your Web pages and begins to reward you for things like other people linking to you or simply for longevity (serious, just keep at it and Google will reward you).
And if you have many other people’s Web sites who use your name — including celebrities — you may have to wait longer.
These tips I’ve given are no guarantee that you’ll get in the Google top 10 search results for your own name — there could be many exceptions (including famous people having your same name).
Additionally, as the Internet population grows, the key metrics I listed will likely increase.
But, barring exceptions and taking into account population growth, I believe if you follow/meet most of the Google front page tips I’ve listed, you’ll get on the Google front page over time
Best of luck!
I’m one of those weird guys who likes to pour through documents like the 182-page LinkedIn S-1 Registration Statement (while flying to Salt Lake City for a trip with high-school buddies!).
An S-1 is what a company files in preparation for “going public.”
Here are some highlights:
This excludes what looks like an $8.2 million payout to preferred shareholders
* 2009 to 2010 reflects just 9 month periods.
Hiring Solutions: 44% — Recruiters (3,900 of them in 2010) pay LinkedIn to access and market to its database of users. This includes 69% of the Fortune 100.
Advertising: 31% — Marketers (33,000 in 2010) run ads on LinkedIn’s page views.
Subscriptions: 25% — LinkedIn members can use much of LinkedIn for free but there are additional things that users must pay for (such as seeing more than 100 results at a time or being able to filter your searches by seniority of a LinkedIn member).
*Breakdown as of quarter ended Sept. 30, 2010
“LinkedIn is not as automated a business as some may think…over half their revenue comes from Field Sales.”
Due in part to LinkedIn’s money spent on a sales team in the field, their profit margins are lower than Google’s and Facebook’s.
“I bet that Groupon’s profit margins will be closer to LinkedIn’s than they are to Google or Facbeook when Groupon files its S-1…due to the large field sales team they employ. “
Did anyone notice that I just quoted myself? I’m just trying to break up the text components here!
* For the 9 months ended Sept. 30, 2010
*As of December 31, 2010
LinkedIn is currently being valued at around $2.9 billion according to the latest shares being sold on SharesPost (note: this is not in the S-1 Registration).
A LinkedIn IPO could value the company at a great price than the $2.9 billion based on those recent privately-traded LinkedIn shares.
Of course, the LinkedIn valuation could change big time if we have an Internet bubble burst before they go public.
I recently finished reading the book Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of the small but powerful 37 Signals company.
Rework and 37 Signals’ last book (Getting Real) are unique in that they give you a birds eye view on operating a small business (37 Signals has just a few employees) whose products (software for design & productivity) are used by millions.
Here’s a sampling of 5 tips I liked from Rework:
The main reason here is that you don’t have to worry about focus groups; you know what the products needs or doesn’t need first-hand.
“What’s The Hot Dog In Your Hot Dog Stand?”
I love this quote: Fried & Heinemeier Hansson are suggesting that if you were to start a hot dog stand, the first thing you’d want to work on is the…hot dog (as opposed to the napkins or relish).
I’ve found this hot dog stand analogy to be a simple way to help entrepreneurs figure out where to start on new product creation.
Entrepreneurs face “feature-creep” all the time.
Fried & Heinemeier suggest you ask yourself: If you had to launch your product in 2 weeks, what features would you include?
For example, Crate & Barrel didn’t wait to build fancy displays when they launched their first store (they flipped over “crates and barrels” that the merchandise came in and stacked products on top of them.
“Cool wears off, useful never does.”
That’s a good quote I like for erring on the side of usability over coolness with product design.
Fried & Hansson recommend you hire people who set their own goals and execute and don’t need a lot of hand-holding.
This is similar to the “Drivers” (DACI Model) most imperative to getting things done.
One measurement of whether someone is a Manager of One/Driver, the 37 Signals founders say, is that if you leave these people alone, they surprise you with how much they get done.
Overall, the Rework book is a simple read for people trying to create a new business or running a small business; it didn’t make the Top 20 Best Business Books Of All Time but it’s not too far off.
My brother-in-law Rich recently asked me for my favorite business book. I had a tough time answering because a slew of book titles raced through my mind.
Well, make room on your bookshelf because I dove in and came up with 20 top business books below:
The Best Business Books Of All Time
If I had to pick just one business book for folks to read, it would be this illustrated tome by Charlie Munger — Warren Buffett’s long-time right-hand man — with its folksy and entertaining tales of business and life (see Charlie Munger Quotes for a taste).
There’s plenty of Buffett tips in here too so you get two-for-one! …
I’ve been thinking a lot about hiring lately.
I’m working on starting a new business and I also coach others on starting their own businesses – and hiring is perhaps the most important decision a business leader can make (you may recall how I previously wrote about a mishire costing you a cool $1 million).
I like formulas & frameworks and I’ve been keeping my eye out for a good one for hiring – I found a simple one from investor Warren Buffett.
He says there are just 3 criteria that every good hire should have: Integrity, Intelligence and Energy.
Does this person consistently exhibit a soundness of character? Are they, in a word, honest?
One good tip on figuring this out is to use Warren Buffett’s “newspaper front page” test.
Let’s pretend the potential hire is named Bernard.
If a New York Times reporter had access to the work that Bernard did for you, would you comfortable opening up the paper tomorrow and reading their analysis of Bernard?
If the answer is yes, Bernard is probably of good integrity…if you’re thinking too much about that, you might have a problem with old Bernie.
A favorite quote of mine on honesty/integrity comes from Mark Twain:
“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”
Another good quote from unknown sources is:
“Hire for character, don’t hire characters
Raw intelligence is important.
Did a person test well in a competitive environment (such as grades in University or on a standardized test like the SATs).
I just met with one engineer today in part because he scored a 1,480 on his SATs and that’s higher than most people I know.
But it doesn’t have to be academic intelligence.
It can be “Street Smarts” – The ability to quickly read situations and people.
Or it could be “Emotional Intelligence” – the skills to create optimal results in your relationship with yourself and others.
By energy, I couldn’t find Buffett’s definition of it but here’s mine:
Good energy in a hire is when they feel motivated about a task at hand.
For example, most people consider me high-energy about most things: I care deeply about new Internet businesses, hiring & making the world a better place – so when I’m working on those things, you’ll find me at a high-energy level.
But there are tasks that you’ll find me much lower energy on, such as paying my bills or filling out a rebate form to get $100 back for my contact lenses.
So, if you need help with your paperwork, please do not consider me a good candidate!
Now, ideally you want all three criteria — Integrity, Intelligence and Energy — to be met when hiring employees.
But there is one that trumps them all: Integrity.
The reason, as Buffett explains, is that if you have the other two: an intelligent person who is high-energy about what they’re doing, but they’re missing the third (they are low-integrity (e.g. dishonest)), then that is a Perfect Storm of financial disaster.
Case in point: Bernie Madoff (you like how I moved to the real -life Bernie from the hypothetical “Bernard”?).
Clearly, Bernie was an intelligent man – he had the respect of a Who’s Who of Wall Street people.
And he was high-energy at what he did– was able to talk 1,000’s of people into hiring him to manage their savings; and hid his fraud for what investigators believe was over 30 years!
He even duped a couple of very smart people I know.
And Bernie served on a number of boards (including Yeshiva University’s Business School and Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation) and was clearly a high-energy multi-tasker.
So, I think Bernie qualifes as an intelligent and energized person…but he was low-integrity…and he robbed people blind.
To recap, there are three things that a good hire (or anyone you work with) should possess:
But to save yourself time, make sure they have the first (Integrity) because the next two don’t matter without it.
I was intrigued when I noticed that at least 10 of the The Top 100 Synonymous Genericized Brands I posted included alliteration: brands like PowerPoint, RotoRooter, Google and Armor All.
What is alliteration?
The definition of alliteration is repeating the same sound in two or more words in close succession, such as:
“She sells sea shells by the sea shore.”
Alliteration is widely accepted in the research/scientific community as a tool to enhance memory.^
While alliteration in such toungue-twisters (there are also many in poems and songs) is fun — I’ve been thinking about alliteration in business and brands lately.
So, I’ve compiled a list of examples of alliteration used for commercial purposes (e.g. company names, products, real-life and fictional personalities and even fruit, sayings and other stuff).
How do you create a “Kleenex”-like brand that is synonymous with its product category?
After I crafted The Top 100 Colloquial Brands, I came up with some observations about these brands that might be good tips for you to use to name your brands.
Top brands use alliteration, which is typically defined as using the same sounding first syllable sequentially. Examples of alliteration in the Top 100 Colloquial Brand list I did include:
Alliteration is sometimes more broadly defined as using the same sound of any syllable when said in sequence,; using that definition, you would also add these Top 100 Brands as examples of alliteration:
An even broader interpretation of alliteration in which the last syllable has the same sound would allow us to include Mack Truck to the list.
Check out The Best Examples of Alliteration in Business & Brands piece I did for even more on the subject.
Many top genericized brands include a word that describes the purpose of the product. Examples include:
Note: You’ll note that some of the descriptive words are spelled differently (such as “Glas” or “Kool”)
And you can of course use two or more descriptive words in a row like:
Amazingly, 86% of the top 100 Colloquial Brands are two or three syllables long.
Ten percent of the Top 100 are four syllables long and 4% are one syllable long.
You’ll note that NONE of the Top 100 contain more than four syllables…interesting!
Don’t be afraid to use your family name. Examples of family-inspired names include:
I haven’t had time to check into how important first-mover advantage is to building a colloquial/genericized brand. Perhaps you want to take a crack at that!