I was able to chat with CEO and Co-Founder Patrick Ambron to hear more about the new website BrandYourself.com and what he hopes to accomplish with it.
The idea behind BrandYourself.com
BrandYourself.com was developed when co-founder Pete Kistler couldn’t get an internship while he, Patrick, and Evan McGowan-Watson, the third co-founder, were in college. Pete realized that when employers searched for his name, what first popped up on the page was information about another Pete Kistler, who just so happened to be a drug dealer.
At this point, Patrick was doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for another business. He saw his friend’s need. “Unless you know SEO,” said Patrick, “if you want to improve results, you need to pay a reputation company thousands of dollars.” He didn’t want Pete to have to shell out the cash to improve his results. He also realized that this was not an isolated incident and that people have the same kinds of issues every day. “People need to look better in search engines because they are mistaken for someone else or have embarrassing stories. Everyone should be actively improving results,” said Patrick. And, from there, BrandYourself.com was born.
How it works
The website works by moving positive links higher in the Google search results, and moving the negative links further down (this, Patrick told me, is SEO).
In order to begin, users must submit an e-mail address and password. Next, they enter the exact name they want to control on Google. From there, users are able to find their current score. After completing the initial steps, users are able to submit any link they want, whether it is a LinkedIn profile, article, online portfolio, etc.; analyze it; and then track the link as it starts rising.
Other benefits of BrandYourself.com is that users can build a profile with them, which is guaranteed to show up on the first page of search results on Google. This is a good idea for people who do not already have a lot of content on the Web. This profile also helps users track when people are looking for them. This comes in handy if, for example, users are job searching.
There is the option for users to sign up for either a free or premium account. The main difference is that with the free account, users are able to submit up to three links. With the premium account, that number is unlimited. Also, as a paying member, users receive more in-depth information about who is looking for them.
At the time I spoke to Patrick, the website already had 25,000 users and is steadily growing. Users range from Harvard professors to undergraduate students.
For example, one professor was accused of stealing shirts from a store, a false accusation. This was continually coming up on Google search results and was tarnishing his name. He had spent $17,000 trying to take care of the issue, and it never worked for him.
Another story: a writer for a popular online news website wanted to have three to four of his best pieces at the top of the search results. He did not have any negative material coming up, but his favorite pieces were getting buried amongst all other search results for him.
Lastly, a male undergraduate student kept getting turned down when applying to law schools. His issue? An ex was posting nasty rumors about him on JuicyCampus.
BrandYourself.com was able to remedy each of these situations.
I asked Patrick his advice for students—and, really, anyone—to put their best foot forward. Here’s what he said:
- Google yourself. “Pay attention to what you find,” Patrick said. “If you don’t exist, it’s a missed opportunity.”
- Start buying domains. “Go to GoDaddy.com to purchase ‘yourname.net’ [or] whatever you can get. Domains will always show up high on the results list.”
- Build a personal hub. “Make one place where you list everything about you . . . anything you want someone to know about you, including awards you won. Then, link everything to this hub.” Some ideas Patrick listed were Twitter and Tumbler.
- Everyone should have LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. These are your most basic social media sites that Patrick believes everyone should have. “It’s a result you control and it’s something that will show up high on Google. You don’t have to be active, but what you are doing is keeping other people from using your name.”
- Know basic optimization. This includes using your name when you are able (for example, as your Twitter handle), filling out all profiles completely, and, as Patrick stated before, linking all pages to each other.