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by Amy Fowler on 30th January 2013
Today we welcome Amy Fowler onto the Koozai blog to talk about the complexities of dating Sheldon Cooper. Oh wait. It’s a different Amy Fowler, which is why we asked her to discuss the complicated world of having an online presence when someone famous shares the same name.
Back in October last year, Koozai’s Andy Williams wrote about how the death of American singer Andy Williams had affected his personal brand.
I sympathise with you Andy. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a really unusual name, dominating Google is hard enough – even if you don’t happen to share your name with somebody more famous than you.
Unfortunately I share my name with someone very, very famous right now. Albeit, a fictional character.
If you haven’t met her yet, meet Miss Amy Farrah Fowler.
The kooky neurobiologist (played by Mayim Bialik) from probably the most popular American sitcom since Friends (thanks E4): The Big Bang Theory.
Before The Big Bang Theory really took off, it wasn’t that hard to find me when you searched for my name in Google. But, as of the time of writing, search for Amy Fowler and the first mention of me (my Twitter profile) can be found on page seven. Use exact match quotes, and I’m on page two (probably because most references to the above neurobiologist use all three of her names).
So what can you do if you too, have a famous namesake that’s stopping you from dominating the SERPs for your name?
If you haven’t already, it’s worth securing your name on a domain. Then, get a site built and include as much relevant information about yourself as possible. I.e. who you are, your skills and expertise, and who you work for.
You might also want to include a library of links to your proudest guest posts, and of course, links to your social profiles. Ideally, you’ll probably want to use this domain to blog too.
You could start using your middle name, or the initial of your middle name.
So I could start referring to myself online as ‘Amy Elizabeth Fowler’ or ‘Amy E. Fowler’; both which are unsurprisingly, much less competitive, and reveal no mention of Amy Farrah Fowler when you search for them.
However, Amy Elizabeth Fowler sounds a little bit formal, so maybe I could change it to ‘Amy Lizzie Fowler’.
Another idea could be to utilise a nickname (assuming your nickname is nothing too off-the-wall or offensive). Some of my friends call me Flower, so I could rebrand myself as Amy Flower.
Guest posting isn’t just for businesses and their brands, it’s great for your personal brand too. Secure yourself a spot on some big-name blogs in your industry and write a great guest post that will get you noticed.
And don’t forget to make the most of your author bio. Link to your key social profiles, your personal website, and make sure to take advantage of rel=author.
If you can, take things a step further and get yourself a regular writing spot on a big blog.
Celebrities and brands do it all the time and it (mostly) works for them:
• In 1977 The Sex Pistols timed a controversial performance of God Save the Queen atop a boat on the Thames with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Despite (or perhaps because of) widespread outrage in the media, the stunt secured them a record deal with Virgin, and helped propel the song to number 2 in the charts.
• In 2007 Kanye West and 50 Cent went head-to-head in a tension-fuelled-feud over prospective sales of their next album; even squaring up against each other at that year’s MTV Video Music Awards. They later revealed that ‘they had no beef at all’ – they simply saw an opportunity and went for it.
• Back in 1998, a year before the release of cult horror The Blair Witch Project, a site depicting the forthcoming film as a documentary and genuine ‘found footage’ popped up on the web. By the time the film was to be shown at festivals, the producers had even placed “missing” posters around Sundance, showing pictures of the supposedly dead documentarians.
People fell hook, line, and sinker for the stunt; the location of the film (Burkittsville, Maryland) actually became swamped by tourists in search of clues.
As a result, the film grossed $248,639,099 worldwide. It cost somewhere between $500,000 and $750,000 to make.
Doing something that will get people talking about you will go a long way towards ensuring that it’s your face popping up in Google for your name, not the celebrity who ‘stole’ your name. However, try not to offend anyone or embarrass yourself – you want your stunt to get you positive publicity!
And think about what you do, not just your name. It’s a big step in the right direction if you can ensure you dominate Google for “your name + your industry”.
Chances are, if someone is trying to find you and they don’t succeed when searching for just your name, they’ll search again with something else that they know about you. Quite possibly the industry you work in.
If you ensure everything you do online mentions not only your name, but what you do for work, you should find yourself ranking pretty quickly for these longer-tailed search terms.
A bit drastic, but still an option. Of course, you have to consider that this essentially means starting over and building your personal brand from scratch. But, changing your name is a pretty big thing, and if you can get enough people talking about what you’re doing, you could make it work in your favour.
Alternatively, you could just choose a ‘pen name’ to go by professionally, rather than officially changing your name. It worked for Mary Anne Evans….
Think about your kids. Chances are, personal branding and online presence is only going to get more important, so try not to ‘brand’ your children with the most popular names of the time (currently Harry and Amelia in the UK).
At the same time, think carefully before you choose a name that’s a little ‘out there’. A unique name undoubtedly has its benefits, but they’re (most likely) going to have to carry it with them for life, so try to avoid submitting your child to any of these crazy monikers. Be unique, but don’t choose anything that’s likely to lead to a lifetime of ridicule.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author so may not represent those of the Koozai team.