The Beginner’s Guide to Taking Control of Your Google Results

About This Series

The internet is the first place we turn to learn more about another person, and Google is the go-to resource. Every day there are 3 billion searches on Google and 77% of job recruiters are required to do a Google pre-screen of potential employees before hiring. While you may not have Googled yourself, it’s certain that someone else has.

Ultimately it’s your responsibility to make a good impression when someone Googles you, and we want to help. This series will walk you through the step involved in owning your own search results and managing your online reputation. We’ll show you how to create and promote your best content to the top of your search results, and also how to push unwanted content (negative, irrelevant or competition) farther down.

Part 1: Diagnose Your Google Ranking

The first step to controlling any situation is determining whether or not you have a problem, and if so, knowing how bad it really is. So in Part 1 of this series we are going to help you diagnose your Google ranking, no matter how good or bad it might be, so you can begin to take corrective action.

Step 1: Google Yourself 

The very first thing you need to do is go to Google and type your name into the search bar.

  • Sign out of your Google Account. Google employs personalized and local searches when you are signed into your account. In other words, Google will slightly alter your results to make them more relevant to you based on your location and what they know about you through your Google account. The person searching you won’t have this, so make sure you sign out before searching.
  • Enter the name people will actually use to search you: Do you use your middle name or initial on your resume?  Did you recently acquire a hyphenated last name? When you search for yourself online, be positive that you’re using the name that people are going to be searching for you with! This also brings up the important point of consistency: when you use your name online, on a resume, anywhere for that matter, be sure that you are using the same name—and make sure that it’s the one that you want to rank for.

Step 2: Diagnosis- Which Google Ranking Category Are You?

Once you see your results it’s time to figure out which category you fall under. Decide which of these categories best represents your first page of results. It may be a combination of them all.

Tip: Concentrate on your first page because 93% of searchers never go past the first page. They use the first 10 to form their impression.

  • Negative: This is the worst category to be in because it means you have one or more negative results representing you. This category is not just reserved for criminals and politicians, either. In today’s world of social networking and anonymous sharing, it is disturbingly easy to have your reputation tarnished. It takes only one status update, tagged photo or blog post from an angry ex, former employee or wild friend to put you in this category.
  • Irrelevant: Yes the results are about you, but they don’t really help or hurt you. They are completely outdated and irrelevant. Instead of finding out you are one of the most well-respected doctors in Boston, the person finds out you finished 120th in a 5k run three years ago.
  • “Hey That’s Not Me!”: In this case, your results are dominated by somebody or multiple people with your name. In a best case scenario, they simply prevent the searcher from finding anything meaningful about you. In a worst case scenario they might actually mistake you for someone else, like our Co-founder Pete who couldn’t get a job in college since he was being mistaken for an ex-con.
  • Positive & Relevant: This means your results are full of positive, well-branded content about you. This also means you are one of the very few people who have a strong grasp on their results—or you’re a celebrity. Most likely not the case.

Step 3: Figure Out How Much Work You Have Ahead and Make a Plan

Once you know where you stand, it’s time to be proactive and start improving your search results. Your goal is to fill your first page with as many positive results as possible. Depending on your web presence, you can figure out how much work lays ahead and plan accordingly.

  • You Have No Web Presence, and No Content:  The first thing you need to do is build your online presence for Google. Quite simply, if you don’t’ have any positive content, there is no way for it to show up on your first page. If you haven’t done this, read about building your foundation presence for Google.
  • I Have Specific Content I Want to BURY:  Perhaps you have something unflattering out there about you, or you’re also being mistaken for an ex-con (Pete feels for you). You need to read  about emergency tactics, which will walk you through the most effective ways to get unwanted content off the first page.
  • I Have Specific Content I Want to Push Higher: You might already have a personal website, a LinkedIn profile, or other content you want people to find, but they just aren’t  showing up high in search results. You need to read up on our advanced tactics.


Today, it is just plain irresponsible to be passive about your Google results. You spend a lot of time building your reputation—you work hard, treat others well, follow through on duties and show up on time. Now it’s time to apply that same discipline to your online presence. The rest of this series will cover everything from the basics to advanced tactics for controlling your search results.

Check out the other parts of the series:

If you’re finding this series helpful, you might be interested in signing up for BrandYourself’s online reputation management tool for free. It makes it easy to get your best content on the first page of Google and monitor your progress.

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  • Nora Reed

    Brilliant article, its really helpful post to me to know how google ranking websites and what are perspective behind it. Thanks

    • Brand-Yourself

      Glad you enjoyed it Nora, thanks for your insight!  

  • Logo Design Contest

    Nice advise and good guidance to make a topper in google search. Good article. Thanks

  • Skin Care

    Thanks for sharing both positive and negative points in detail. I like your logo the best.!!

  • 99designs reviews

    Excellent tips and good understandable suggestions for making google experience best. Thanks

  • design company brochure

    Post is very interesting and informative for me as a  optimizer we need to know about this think.

  • Astral Plane Studios

    Everything said here is the truth. My personal mistake has been pushing my brand name rather than my real name, I know a LOT about SEO, I just never really thought about applying it to my personal name, however, now I’m beginning to “get it” when it comes to one’s actual name. Brandyourself rocks!

  • CarmenBrodeur

    It is crucial to monitor what is being said about you online. Protecting your name is an important part of business. This is an excellent article.

  • web designing

    Awesome article!! Bookmarked

  • Daniel

    Yes really great info

  • Kathy Toth

    I don’t know how many people will actually search my name when they are moving to Ann Arbor, so personal branding may be effective locally, but I am interested in attracting relocation clients from out of area too.  So geographic tagging is important, I believe when people are looking for houses/condos.

  • PSD To Wordpress

    The information you have provided here is just useful and creative..I appreciate your great effort to make these useful tips and share here with us..Great job done keep it up..

  • Brendan Spaar

    Thanks for creating Brand

  • Jacky

    Thanks for the useful insight on personal branding. Looking forward to reading the series

  • Tera

    Am I missing something? This was posted 10 months ago and I can’t the rest of the series? I love the information, hence why I am asking…Thanks, Tera