cover image - What is Personal Branding?

Personal Branding: Discovering and Changing Your Search Engine Presence

cover image - What is Personal Branding?Do you know what your current digital brand is? Anyone who deals with online content has gone through the process of a content audit at some point. And anyone who has tried any kind of self-help is familiar with the idea of taking stock of yourself. Discovering your personal brand is a combination of these two approaches, essentially taking stock of the online content about you.

A lot of bloggers are great writers, but they would make a lot more money if they a little more time on business and a little less time on writing. That’s why I’m sharing a few ways that bloggers, and other people, can improve their personal brand:

Your brand according to Google

Have you ever searched for yourself on Google? The first time you do this, you may be amazed. On one hand, there is a wealth of information readily available about you that you may not have realized was out there. On the other hand, you may find yourself wondering where all the good stuff is! It’s a great opportunity to see yourself the way the Internet presents you as if you were another person searching for you.

How do other people see you when they search for you?

What comes up when you search for yourself on Google? Or any other search engine for that matter? While your resume is still a powerful way to represent your accomplishments to potential employers, the Internet is fast becoming a new sort of resume, and you need to pay attention to how you are presented there. Many potential employers, clients, and job recruiters will look to a Google search to get a quick picture of who you are and what you are doing. That can speak volumes about you and is a big part of what your personal branding efforts look like online.

How can I use what they see to promote a good personal brand?

In 2006, three quarters of employers looked up potential employees online before deciding whether to hire them. This was before most working adults had social media profiles, so now employers can find out even more about you. A lot of people fear potential employers and potential clients seeing their personal profiles, but they’re missing the picture: Facebook profiles are an opportunity convey a brand to potential employers that will help you get hired.

Search engine branding to-do list

  1. Search your name (in all of its forms) in Google and other search engines.
  2. Click through to everything that comes up on Page 1.
  3. Read everything.
  4. Make note of what you like and think is accurate, as well as what you’d rather not have out there or would like to change.
  5. Save this list with your notes.

Note From Brian

Dealing With Google’s Personalized Search: I feel I should mention that we can not just search for our name on Google and see the same results that others will see. With Google’s Personalized Search and now their €œSearch Plus Your World€ updates, we all see search results based on our history, location, our social connections and probably a dozen other less-known factors. Even signing out of our Google accounts won’t prevent these custom results. One way to help see where you stand on Personal Branding is by searching your name using the “incognito” option in Google Chrome browser. There are other options but this is one of the easier solutions, albeit not fool proof.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming 😉

Don’t stop there!

The Internet and online bookstores are full of information about marketing and how you can both build a better brand and use this brand to your advantage. Some of the best information is free on blogs like this one, but if you’re serious about building your personal brand and using it to move forward in your professional world then research personal branding books and pick up a few of the best ones.

One of the most well-known books that can help you build your personal brand is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Written in the 1930’s, this book isn’t directly about personal branding, but it’s a good place to start reading about how to change and influence what other people think about you.


About Murray Newlands

Murray and his company, Influence People, do blogger outreach and SEO work for a variety of clients.


  1. Nice article Murray, I appreciate you sharing it with our readers.

    I’m glad you mentioned Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s a classic that should be given a lot of credit when it comes to teaching personal branding to the masses. I’ve read it cover to cover no less than half a dozen times. I hope you don’t mind but I linked to another site of mine where we give the book in digital format free of charge, along with a few others.

    Personal Branding is very important in business, marketing and anyone online with an agenda, whether it’s to profit or to simply convey a message. I registered and I use my full name, Brian D. Hawkins, on almost every online profile, blog post comment and signature. It’s always about branding.

  2. How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of my favorite book, it has some great tips which can be used in social marketing. I just did a search for my name after reading this article, results are not bad but lot of improvement can be done. Thanks for the nice article.

  3. Shanky Sahni says

    hi Murray,
    Thanks for sharing the great article.I never thought of doing all this.I will definitely try these things to see how I am being presented by Google.

  4. Establishing a brand online is one tough battle but once you manage to make yourself through everything will be somehow easy. just my 2 cents 😀

    Love the new look Brian… very very elegant 😀

  5. sai krishna says

    hello Murray Newlands,
    very nice to see you as a guest blogger in hot blog tips 🙂 really personal branding is very important and its make us more popular 🙂

  6. Personal branding is important, but if you are doing all the things necessary to contribute to the growth of your blog or website, it will happen naturally. A blogger’s effort should be long-term, and creating an Internet presence is a result of that effort. Thanks for the tips!

  7. A great personal brand will just be useless if you don’t have a good presence over search engines.

  8. Altaf Hussain says

    Great tips, as the business world is becoming turned up-side-down, it is becoming increasingly more important to develop branding skills!

  9. Search your name (in all of its forms) in Google and other search engines.
    Sometimes you may find a lot of crappy info which is useless. I know bad publicity is a form of publicity but if you’re to sensible you may get some low self esteem 🙂

  10. Thank you for another great article.

    Q: What do you suggest to folks who do this for a living?

    I have been building social media profiles for artists and companies for years and the last I want do when I get home is maintain a personal profile. When you write articles and blog posts all day – do you go home and write more? And how do you separate personal and professional life on FB and Twitter? Please advise.

  11. Hi Sanjeev, follow that link above for a free copy of the e-book version of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

    I added an update to the post above when it comes to searching for our names. I recommend searching our names, and brands, using the “incognito” option in google Chrome browser to avoid Google’s personalized search results.

  12. Hi Shanky, I also recommend obtaining the URL with your name, a dot com if possible, for better branding. Adding a simple one page site there like I did with can do wonders. If you do go that route, don’t forget to link your site to your Google Profile.

  13. Thanks Herbert, I’m very happy with the faster page load times. Load time is factored into Google rank to the faster the better. Plus it eliminated some glitches I was having within Firefox.

  14. That’s true to a degree Doug but many bloggers aren’t sure what they should be doing. There is a distinction between our blog as a brand and our personal brand. Bloggers tend to focus on keywords and forget about self branding.

    In the spirit of helping; at the risk of singling you out and sounding like a know-it-all, I’ll use your comment as a quick example. I hope you don’t mind, I’m certainly not trying to be critical.

    I would have taken advantage of the do-follow Keyword Luv and entered something like these in the name field for your comment:

    Doug Eikermann@Slinging The Bull
    Doug Eikermann@Individual Betterment
    Doug Eikermann@Self Improvement

    I feel personal branding should be an implemented strategy, just like our Blog’s SEO work. There are, of course, ways to do both at once and, like you mentioned, benefit from a long term and active online presence.

  15. Absolutely James, there’s no point in a “secret” brand. <- Soon to be famous quote. lol

  16. Well said Altaf, thanks.

  17. Branding is definitely key these days when trying to become a “Good Website” in google eyes!

  18. Hi Radu, nice point. It’s important to build on the positive aspects of our personal brand (us) and allow that to push any less desired information down the list.

    This is something that big business is finding to be a huge challenge when problem news goes viral. Take Netflix, for example, how many years will they be thought of as the stupid company that ignored customers and forced personal opinion on the brand almost to the point of complete destruction? That’s going to be a tough image to improve.

    Try searching Google for First American Home Warranty. Once you start getting reported to rip off websites and places like the BBB, your search traffic can take an amazing turn for the worse.

    Both our personal brand and our blogging business need to avoid negative feedback because much of the content online is out of our hands, including the impact it has.

  19. Anonymous (Read Comment Policy) says

    Actually this is a disputable question, because I can’t say that writing less is a good advice. Because today the main tendency in online business is unique content and as a result bloggers should write more and more articles, that will be distinguished by their high quality and originality.

  20. Murray Newlands says

    I suggest creating a public Page on Facebook that is more business-oriented, ans also making sure your public personal profile promotes a brand that will help you get clients.

  21. Murray Newlands says

    Google just cares about non-duplicated content that uses keywords that their advertisers like. It can be branded personally, non-personally, or unbranded, it doesn’t matter to Google.

  22. Youthful Investor says

    I just got back from a job and career seminar. Although the event covered mostly resume and cover letter approaches a great deal was spent surprisingly on web presence and branding. They advised looking up your name on Google along with your social medias. Many employers are using this quick information to make an opinion on you before you have even heard back from them. Don’t kill a potential interview or better yet a really great interview.

  23. Murray Newlands says

    Absolutely. I know someone whose first name is spelled two different ways and one of these ways has a shortened version. His last name is spelled at least three different ways, two of which are in common use. This means that things about him can come up for any combination of his first name spellings and his last name spellings, which is a total of 9 combinations!

  24. Murray Newlands says

    This is great advice Youthful Investor. Have you ever looked at potential employers doing a Google search as an opportunity to present a good brand before you’ve even had the interview?

  25. I was actually obsessed once with how i look on Google, when you’re young you do stupid things. And it was a long process to clean my record by going to those websites and deleting modifying information. I even had to send some mails to a couple webmasters.
    Nobody’s perfect, and whoever says they are, they’re lying.

  26. Thanks. nice Post. keep on. it’s useful to newbie blogger like me.

  27. Daniel Snyder says

    It’s a challenge for those that share a name with someone who is famous! My name is my brand in a sense, but years of online marketing have caused me to rank right up beside the famous Daniel Snyder owner of the Washington Redskins.

  28. Murray Newlands says

    hahaha, maybe you need some SEO for your homepage on the words “Daniel Snyder” 🙂

  29. Danica Green says

    Thanks for these wonderful tips Brian, our name is our brand so it is just important that we check what the leading search engine says about our name to keep a good and positive online reputation.

  30. I always imagine potential employers or recruiters Googling me to see what they can find out about me. Although my Facebook account is private, LinkedIn is not, and that can work to in my favour.

    it’s also what people are saying about me who possibly have low privacy settings on their social networks. If somebody was determined enough, I’m sure they could find SOMETHING about me I’d rather they not see.

    In a nutshell, it’s up to all of use to think about how our present and future activity affects our reputation. Where does the virtual footprint lead and is it a place you’re comfortable with?

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