Vizibility Lets You Dictate How Google Presents You to the World

5/24/11Follow @arleneweintraub

Ever since the invention of search engines, entrepreneur James Alexander has been frustrated. “I could never find myself on the Internet,” says Alexander, who gets lost on the Web because of his common name, or as he puts it, his “two first names.” So in 2009, he started playing around with the “advanced search” option on Google—a feature that only 5 percent of Googlers use, he says. He found that if he strung together 25 descriptive words about himself—voila—he appeared at the top of the 11 million search results for “James Alexander.”

That experiment inspired Alexander to launch Vizibility, a tool that lets anyone control how they appear on Google when someone searches for them. Sign up for Vizibility via its website (currently in beta form), and you can curate your Google results in a few easy steps—adding key words that you want to automatically be associated with your name, and ranking the results that you’d like to appear in the top five. And you get a SearchMe button, which you can add to any Web page. Anyone who clicks on it will get directly to your curated Google search results. “When people push that button they actually get me,” Alexander says. “Before, I didn’t show up anywhere in the first 15 pages.”

Vizibility recently revised its mobile version and started providing “QR Codes,” which are personalized barcodes you can add to business cards, resumes, and the like. That way, people who have barcode readers on their smartphones can scan you and get right to your Vizibility search results.

With the unusual name Arlene Weintraub, I don’t really have a problem getting confused with other people on the Web. But as a recently published author, I certainly recognize the value of linking my name with certain terms—i.e. the name of my book, Selling the Fountain of Youth. So I was intrigued enough to give Vizibility a try.

As soon as I signed onto Vizibility, the site informed me that if I did nothing to curate my Google results, 45 percent of the results for a search of “Arlene Weintraub” would end up being about me—not bad. But all I had to do to boost that number to 100 percent was add my place of employment, Xconomy, and the name of my book.

If I had a less common name, I could add up to 25 terms describing me—perhaps the names of former employers, or the address of my book’s Facebook page. (Yes, it does have its own Facebook page. Self-promotion is vital when you’re trying to sell a book.)

What I found most useful about Vizibility was its ranking feature. The site allowed me to see how Google would normally order my results. I could then re-sort the first five so the most important stuff would end up at the top of my Vizibility-curated results. If I didn’t do that, the top five would be filled with … Next Page »

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  • http://www.ebnimble.com esther blumenfeld

    Excellent article. Maybe now Google will not claim I am dead with five different funerals.