How to Deal with Namesake on Google Search

Imagine how nice that would be for digital personal branding, if our names were unique! Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and we all share first and last names with a lot of strangers. Sometimes, it can cause problems for the digital visibility, if a namesake is in the same industry, is particularly bad competition, or the ones who research you are not expected to add industry, company, or location when they google. So, what to do?

How many people share the same name and why does it matter?

As the U.S. Census Bureau statistics shows, in the United States alone there are 162,253 different last names and around 5,100 first names in common use. It seems like a lot, but considering country’s overall population, there are a lot of namesakes out there. A LOT of them.

If you look into the data provided by Census, there are over two million Smiths in the United States! I could not find similar data sets for Canada, but according to the UK Office for National Statistics, 45% of babies born in England and Wales in 2018 had a name within the top 100 most popular names, and it’s down from 67% in 1996!

Natasha is not on the lists of popular names anywhere in the world, according to Wikipedia (I’m okay with that), but in Denmark alone there were 1,234 Natasha’s in 2019. Not any full namesakes though. You can check how is it going with your own name here, thanks to Statistics Denmark. Again, a LOT of namesakes.

How does having a namesake or sharing name with a lot of people affect your personal brand?

When people research your online profile, they google. Of course, we all understand that there can be a case of namesakes, and for professional research chances are industry, location, or current or past company will be used as a search modifier.

Still not being present on top results for your own name can be confusing and create issues. A very interesting case was brought up on the LinkedIn page just recently. The Guardian published an email from an academic sharing search results with a drug dealer.

Experts advised on consistent naming, blogging, and acquiring a domain name. Those are really good tips! We already talked a lot about consistent and distinctive naming you should use for your digital personal brand. Avoid different forms of the first name, stick to the same form of your middle name or a nick name that you add to it.

A strong mission statement, short and crisp, something that you can use across all platforms and media, also adds uniqueness to your digital presence. (Learn more about the importance of mission statement for personal brand here)

Launching a personal website and / or a blog on a domain name that reflects your name also contributes to your visibility. If you can commit to consistent updates and writing blogs on regular basis, blog can be your media of choice. But that’s also acceptable to have a website, even if it’s an one-pager, with all the professional information about you, credentials, and mission statement.

To what was advised in that publication, I would also add links from industry media, other academics’ blogs and websites in order to get more mentions on SERP (search engine results page) and better rankings for person’s blog and social media profiles.

Acquire mentions in the third party publication which can include: industry media, other scientists’ blogs and social media profiles. It can be done by guest posting, commenting, providing expert advice and contributions to other authors’ publications.

There are two main benefits to that:

  • more own search results shown for person’s name;
  • links to his/her own blog and social media profiles.

Search engines, namely Google, consider links very important for rankings, and by getting more links from reputable sources they can address an issue stated in their email, profiles not ranking well vs namesake’s profiles.

How to get links to your personal website, blog, and social media profiles

Communicators call this online public relations, SEO specialists — link building, but in an essence, that’s a process of acquiring mentions with and without active links online to your website, blog, or social media profiles from other reputable sources, such as other people’s blogs, websites, industry media and publications.

The easiest way is to comment on industry publications and popular blogs in your field. Identify the most popular media in your industry, follow their updates, and share your thoughts in comments sections on their websites. Note that it’s considered to be in bad taste to simply post links to your website in a comment itself, and your profile may even be blocked or banned from the resource. You should only share links in comments when this adds value to the information that you provide there, for example, when you link to a blog article that covers your point in more detail.

On the other hand, it’s quite acceptable to add link to your blog in a profile itself, as a part of your bio information. Bu humble, but creative.

Another way to get a link, which has much more impact on your reputation, but requires much more time and effort, is guest posting. Reach out to other experts, pitch your idea, ask for advice what else is needed to make you a perfect fit for their blog.

Tools like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) give access to daily media requests from authors and journalists seeking expert advice on a wide variety of topics. Follow those updates in order to try and be featured as an expert on the most popular and trusted publication.

To wrap up: how to acquire links and mentions online outside of your personal blog

  1. Comment on other experts’ articles and news updates, provide information that is valuable and unique
  2. Write guest posts for blogs and industry media
  3. Provide expert advice to journalists and writers

All those tactics used together will definitely make your online presence much more consistent and prominent! What to do next?

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Image credit: Donnie Ray Jones

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