Google link makeover: What Julia Angwin did, in plain English

Julia Angwin’s article in the WSJ about how she re-engineered her links on Google and therefore how she showed up, is interesting, but some of it was a little too vague for literal, get it done types like me. So, here’s my translation, aka a how to, of what Julia did, with the idea that if you want to take similar steps, this little write up will help.

  • Understand how your links are currently presented on Google.  (You find this by googling your name into, yep, Google.)
  • Decide if you want to change anything. Do you like what shows up in the top 5 spots under your name? One tool to work with to show where links are coming from is the Yahoo Site Explorer, which Julia used; you can also put a link into Google and see what links to it.

If you  decide you want to make a shift, as Julia did, follow these next steps (this is a translation into plain talk of Julia’s article).

  • Take steps to push other content than what is there to the top of your Google SERP. These bad old links are there because many people linked to them; to push them down, push some other links up.
  •  How do you do that?  Some possiblities: a) write some great stuff on your blog other people will link to, b) network your digital identities together, pushing your sites further up in page rank.
  • I can’t tell you how to do 4a, but here’s how to do 4b: Go to your linkedin profile, In the section of your profile that says WebSites, and make sure you add links to everything you want highlighted. Like Julia (and like me after I read her piece) use the Other option in the form to be able to give your links the exact titles you want (as opposed to the generic “My Company.)  Choose items that already have credibility and Google juice, like your blog or twitter stream and add them there.
  • Wait–the power of Linked In, Julia suggests, is such that interlinking there is enough.
  • (Susan sez, I disagree-I’d also add a contact list and links on every section of your web site, so everything links together. See this page on my site for an example).
  • Watch out for fighting and trash talk.  If you publish something that many people comment on, it will get pushed to the top of your links, This can be great–or awful, especially if it’s a fight you’re in the middle of.
  • Manage your Google brand vigilantly, and improve the odds with some basic SEO. Critical: Put your name in the header, not just a title(assuming it’s a blog).  Make sure you have enough text that actually describes what the site is, that’s what Google is going to index. (Julia’s site focuses on her new book about MySpace; take a look at the text to see what she wants the Big G to crawl.)
  • Don’t forget to ask your coder, if it’s not you, to add metadata into the source code. While some people say this isn’t really neccessary anymore, it’s very useful. Julia’s metadata is a full sentence (this is a little unusual) and it reads “Award-winning journalist Julia Angwin, author of Stealing MySpace, writes The Decoder, a Wall Street Journal technology column, and serves as editor of the Digits blog.” There are thousands of posts about this on the web, but you could start here.
  • Use twitter and Facebook to let people know about your site or the post you’d like at the top of your Google results; work your network patiently, and hopefully, things will change within 2 weeks.

Susan sez: This is yet another post that underscores that this is the moment to have multiple places where you maintain your identity if you want to be at all accurately reflected on the net. (And if you don’t, cool). Facebook, LinkedIn and a name web site and blog seem like the social media must haves if you care about this at all.

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  1. Julia Angwin says:

    Susan —
    Thanks for the translation, this is a very accurate rendition of what I did.

  2. Curtis Chambers says:

    Susan, I wanted to say thanks for your article. For some reason, I have recently found Google and SEO quite fascinating. Google is like the new Yellow book, but it is not as expensive to SEO.
    Also, it can be fun.
    Curt answers

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