Google Profiles: More Than Just Rand Fishkin’s Wedding Photos

googleSearch engine optimization is about influencing what people read about you just as much as whether people read about you. I’m confident that most SEO professionals understand this when it comes to their companies, clients, and corporate SEO. Yet my personal feeling is that people, SEO specialists included, frequently fall short in the area of ipseitic SEO: what people find when they search for you, not just your company. As much as we’d like to separate the two entities, distinctions between individuals and their companies are becoming blurred by social media and corporate blogging. People may be equally apt to Google you when Googling your company.

This leads us to Google Profiles, the starting point for individual online reputation management. Compared with other profile sites, Google Profiles are underdeveloped (although I did just squander several minutes of my life looking at Rand Fishkin’s wedding pictures on his profile—they are very nice). Don’t misunderstand me by thinking that by underdeveloped, I mean unimportant. Rather, Google Profiles will change the face of people search as we know it. Consider the following:

1st Page Rankings: Google Profiles are indexed to always appear on the first page search results for your name, with thumbnail photos, as shown below for “Scott Cowley.” Call it the ultimate opt-in bait.


Additionally, major search engines index Google Profiles for organic search results. Experiments by others in the industry suggest that anchor text links in the profiles appear to pass some link juice.

Control: Along with 1st page rankings, you have complete control over the content of your profile. If you’ve done or created something that people aren’t likely to discover on their own, you can link to it from your profile. Basically, the defining document about you online will be your own blend of fact and buzz marketing. That’s a winning combination for anyone.

The combination of rank and control are enough to make Google Profiles both popular and very powerful. Right now, Google is no Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, but that has the potential to change, especially if Google acquires someone like FriendFeed. In Profiles, I already see signs of a greatly improved people search. No longer does a social networking website come first in the search for someone’s basic information and web presence. With Google, you have a self-written, thumbnail-confirming profile one click away—a one-stop shop for hiring managers, potential clients, blind dates, etc. Ipseitic SEO will become much more relevant and those without profiles may be labeled as “irrelevant.”.

I anticipate Google using Profiles as the launching platform for a next-generation web crawler originating at the profiles. Following the link paths generated by the profiles, crawlers will gather a very accurate report of individuals. Monetization with disconcertingly targeted marketing and messaging will follow. It may sound intrusive and border on privacy invasion, but I’m willing to let time either convict or exonerate Google on this one.

I’m confident that some eventual good will come to me because of my Google Profile, which is why I created one. Whether it be reconnecting with a friend, impressing a potential employer, or establishing credibility with a client before we even meet, I like Google Profiles and I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future (and hopefully more crazy wedding pictures from Rand Fishkin).

Feel differently about Google Profiles? Have questions or something to add? Let us hear about it.

SEO Tips for Optimizing Your Own Profile

If you don’t have a Google Profile, my advice is to get one. If Google’s regular algorithm is any indication, profile longevity helps rank (important because only four profiles are given 1st page search result status). You can even get a vanity URL instead of the standard number string URL.

[A note about vanity URLs: you risk identifying your Gmail address to spammers as Gmail turns your e-mail prefix into your vanity URL. You can also sign up for a new Google Account using an alternate e-mail and select your own URL, which I recommend.]

Once you have your profile:

Add information. More “complete” profiles are more likely to make 1st page.

Verify your name/e-mail. Name verification requires a Knol account and a cell phone or credit card record (Google forgot about the small class of people like me who only use debit cards and tracfones). E-mail verification requires a closed e-mail, i.e., no Gmail or Hotmail.

Build links to your profile. I really only recommend this if you have stiff name competition.

Create a Google Profile for your business (Optional). Google Profiles are only meant for individuals, but that hasn’t stopped people from creating profiles for “Web Design” or “Cheap iPhone.” Doing so will only get you listed in Google Profile-specific search results or possibly organic rankings and not on the front page with the real names. Still, it can’t hurt.

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  1. Scott Cowley says

    I ran across what appears to be a loophole in the Google Profiles algorithm, which I’m sure smarter individuals could exploit:

    Rahul Patel in India created two Google Profiles: one for Rahul Patel and a bogus one for Rahul SEO.

    I searched for “Rahul SEO,” in Google, guessing that nothing would show up because Rahul SEO is bogus. I was wrong. Oddly enough, the Rahul Patel profile showed up on the 1st page, but not the Rahul SEO profile.

    I suspect that even though Rahul SEO is a bogus profile and doesn’t show up as a legitimate profile in the search results, the search triggered Google to display legit less-relevant profiles (Rahul Patel in this case). Theoretically, you could replicate this using any other keyword.

    Any thoughts on how this could be used?

  2. Jacob Brown says

    After reading this post. I immediately created a Google Profile for myself/company. I am the founder of Jacob Brown Designs – “The Michigan SEO Experts”, and I am always looking for newer more qualified links that index awesome. Google profiles do index awesome, especially when someone just types your name to see what comes up for SEO purposes.

    There are a few different ways to index faster and stick, but a lot of these so-called miracle indexing strategies will only get you hurt, if not removed.

    I definitely think there ways to “trick” Google, but those are hard to come by.

  3. Jacob Stoops says

    I try to utilize my Google profile as another source for people to gather information about me. I think they are off to a good start.

    I know the Google Profiles are most likely going to be favored in the SERPs, so I wished they were a little more like LinkedIn, as kind of a professional online resume.

  4. Scott Cowley says

    The great thing is that even while Google Profiles are far below their potential, they still offer a lot of benefits that can’t be said of other profiling sites at this point.

    With a name like Jacob Brown, Google Profiles is perfect because your personal profile shows whether you search Jacob Brown or Jacob Brown Designs. Potential clients get to know the company and the man at the same time – great for branding and establishing rapport.

  5. Jacob Brown says

    I do believe that Google will catch on to the popularity in which their profiles can and will attract. I am in agreement that they are below their potential, as Scott said, but will eventually evolve into a profile similar, yet better than LinkedIn.

    Of course a profile or directory site created by Google will index better than any other outside source, which is why a Google Profile will be essential to SEO.

    Will Google Profiles work the same for marketing a company website?

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