Digital FootPrints – Not The Person You Think I Am

I have to laugh every time I try to Google myself.

I happen to share a name with a very popular punk rocker from Florida. Her online presence dominates the first page ranking (FPR) of Google and it’s easy to see why. Her video and audio content is delivered on a wide variety of sharing platforms and once an artist can get their content out there, fans can do the rest by sharing, commenting, remixing and reposting. Search engine optimization (SEO) in Google is amplified by relevance, so the more ‘Renee Phoenix’ is mentioned on a variety of sites, videos or online magazines, the higher her ranking will be in a Google search if using her name as a keyword phrase. Whoever is doing her social media marketing and content strategies is doing a pretty good job. Plus she is putting out a lot of content in a variety of forms. Heck, this blog post might reach the first page on the strength of her name recognition alone! 

The upside of competing for Google page ranks with a punk rocker is that someone searching for me – an instructional designer/education technologist – isn’t going to mistake me with the punk rock Renee Phoenix any time soon. Images? Videos? They all belong to the punk rocker as far as I can see. I am, however,  a little amused when a confused punk rocker follows me on Twitter – our social media relationships last a few days. Then I see they have dropped off my list of followers – disappointed no doubt by my content. Edtech just isn’t edgy enough yet. 

The downside of this name competition is that the real me doesn’t show up until page 2 of a Google search (using just my name) via a LinkedIn listing. 

LinkedIn was one of the first platforms I established as a professional profile. But, I haven’t shared much on LinkedIn or anywhere else up to this point and I was surprised that I even ranked on the second page of a Google search. So that tells me a bit about the strength of LinkedIn as a platform and that I should be using it in a more consistent way to establish a stronger professional presence.  Other platforms I am comfortable with and can share content to would likely be Twitter, Google+ and a blog.  One mistake I did make early on was creating three different accounts with Google – I wish I hadn’t done that as it is hard to delete a Google account and I would rather have only one account associated with my content. I’m a little worried about associating anything with my Boise State student email since I’m not sure what happens with that account after I graduate. So I have some work to do there with gathering and tracking multiple accounts in Google. Apparently it’s not possible to merge accounts in any way. 

An interesting note is that if I use a combination of key word search terms – ‘Renee Phoenix Pierce College’ or ‘Renee Phoenix instructional design’ – the rankings change completely. No more punk rock and FPR links to my course work at Boise State and places that I am mentioned on the Pierce College website. So I think I have a better chance of improving my search results if I pay attention to not only where I post content, but the words and phrases I use in the body of the content and in tags or keywords. 

Since I haven’t been particularly active on major social media channels until few years ago and I have what I consider a minimal amount of content online, I think I have a fairly small footprint to work with and try to expand. I do not typically give out personal address or phone number information when creating online accounts – I know that it can get out on the internet through 3rd parties selling my information to marketers. I’m not sure how I feel about that or what I can do about it, but I do take other precautions to secure my accounts and passwords online, deleting old accounts and changing my passwords on a regular basis. 

All in all, I think I’ve been fairly lazy about cleaning up my social media profiles and using these platforms to promote myself professionally. Sadly, I know better than this. I teach online marketing and micro-business planning. Clearly a case of ‘teach what I preach”, but not following through in a really effective way with my own personal brand. I did purchase my domain name several years ago – reneephoenix.com – so I have some opportunities to start using that domain name for a web site that could be a central piece of my online presence and could support my professional and artistic career goals for the next 10-15 years. Part of the reason I took this course was to start this process, reinvent my online professional self and improve my digital footprint.

I know the question you are asking “If you got the domain name ‘reneephoenix.com’, what did the punk rocker get? She had to settle on ‘IAmReneePhoenix.com’. I think that is a good edgy alternative for her – more in-your-face and punk style in my humble opinion.  

So here’s to punk rock and my digital footprint… may they go their own separate ways in peace. 

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wiredforsound23/  Used under Creative Commons license