People who don’t live their lives online like I do often ask me: How can I make it easy for people to find me on the web? While before I might have suggested Facebook, LinkedIn, or just a straight-up personal nameplate site, now I’d advise ’em to set up their Google Profile.
Unless you have a well-linked web site you maintain with your full name all over it, Google search results for your name can vary in quality, and include lots of stuff that’s out of date. So it makes sense that Google’s trying to make people search results better by including Google Profiles in them. Your Google Profile is a pre-fab nameplate with your identifying vitals: name, location, title, company, and interests. Here’s what mine looks like right now.
(GOOG even included support for their competitor’s photo-sharing product, Flickr, for the photo strip; I also dig the Google map of places I’ve lived–so that people can say “oh yes, this is Gina Trapani who used to live in Brooklyn.”)
If you fill out enough information in your Google Profile, it will show up at the bottom of the GOOG’s web search results for your name. (For me, “enough information” meant entering “where I live now” and “what I do.”) This comes in especially handy for people with common names, like my former co-worker at Gizmodo, Jason Chen. See the list of Jason Chen’s who have GProfiles returned in the screenshot at the top of this post.
Problem is, who is going to know to fill out their Google Profile?
In a clever marketing move to ramp up Google Profile adoption, last week GOOG offered 25 free business cards to the first 10,000 folks who filled out enough information in their Google Profile and ordered the dead-tree cards. I did just that on Friday, and now my Google Profile appears at the bottom of search results for my name.
As a web-based freelancer who’s web findability is super-important, it only made sense to hand over my personal info for publication in my profile. But will it for any other Gina Trapani? As more and more people get online, claiming your name will only get more important and competitive. If Google can collect enough complete profiles, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them appear at the top instead of the bottom of results for proper names at some point. But Google’s going to have to offer more than a few free paper business cards which essentially say “Google me” on them to get folks to opt in.
Update: Here’s what the paper card looks like.