Is your resume name optimized for a Google search? If not, then you need to complete a personal name SEO audit.

I began my academic career with a middle E.

By including my middle name initial on all my journal publications and conference presentations, I sought to distinguish myself from all the other Denny McCorkles of the world.

Google Yourself for Personal Name SEO and Personal Branding
Have you Google yourself lately?

Years later, along came Google and I realized that there were no other Denny McCorkles in the world. So, I dropped the middle initial and continued onward.

Today more than yesterday, how to sell yourself and your personal name has become even more important.

Thanks to Google and social media.

The Johns and the Marys and the Joneses and the Smiths of the world no longer have an easy task at optimizing their personal names for a Google search.

What some have called egosurfing, others now consider an essential element of personal branding.

I call this personal name SEO (search engine optimization).

Personal name SEO is the process of optimizing your chosen resume name for a search by social networking contacts, career stakeholders, and potential employers.”

Any efforts to control your reputation, develop a personal brand, job search, or use social media begins with your efforts to optimize your personal name on and off the social web.

Why Do You Need Personal Name SEO?

“Our names are labels, plainly printed on the bottled essence of our past behavior.” ~ Logan Pearsall Smith

Here is why:

(1) People who see your name in the news or social media, or hear others talk of you will search for your personal name to learn more about you out of curiosity or reasons to make contact.

(2) People you meet while physical networking will search for your personal name to learn more about you for a potential social connection or a business relationship.

(3) Potential employers in receipt of your resume or job application will search for your personal name to learn more about your qualifications, personality, and social activity.

As a professional, your personal name SEO is as important as the company name you represent. This is even truer if you are an entrepreneur, freelancer, salesperson, writer/author, blogger, teacher/professor, industry influencer, celebrity, journalist, doctor, lawyer, accountant, politician, public official, or many others.

As a student or recent graduate, your personal name SEO is essential for as your short work history and lack of professional experiences can show search results that are often more personal than professional. On the positive side, those with young careers may have an easier time in adjusting their resume name for personal name SEO.

Regardless of career stage, you must be quickly findable on page one of the Google search results and on the social web with a resume name that is: (1) consistently used across the web (and not a nickname in one profile; a middle initial in another), (2) not easily mistaken for others with a similar name, and (3) accompanied with career positive content, professional profiles, and social activity.

“The first and most important keywords for personal branding is your personal name.”

How Do You Google Yourself (and not miss anything)?

  1. Complete a Domain Search for Your Resume Name.

Since a web link of your resume name can provide the best future advantage in personal branding, I recommend that you begin by searching availability of your resume name on GoDaddy.

It should be a dot com domain name search. And, you should also search for common variations of your personal name. For example: DennyMcCorkle, DennyEMcCorkle, DennyEarlMcCorkle.

Take note of what domains are available, for this will guide your additional searches and personal branding decisions.

  1. Conduct a Personal Name SEO Audit.

If you are now convinced to play the role of a Google sleuth rather than a Google slacker, then open your Google Chrome browser and prepare to conduct several Google searches to discover how your personal name and personal brand look to career important others.

I call this a personal name SEO audit.

“A personal name SEO audit is the process of determining how and where your personal name is found in the search engine result pages, the number and strength of competing names, and whether a resume name variation is needed.”

With these search efforts, you are attempting to see what others see about you and where they see it. This information allows you to make important decisions and possibly adjustments in the control of your personal brand.

Those you meet thru casual networking are most likely satisfied with what they find at the top of page one of the search engine result pages (SERPs). Yet, potential employers may take a deeper dive into the results pages to get a better snapshot of you and your qualifications. Be prepared for both. Any identifiable details found on your resume, such as your personal name, email, or phone number, are prompts for a search.

As you continue thru with these recommended searches, take note of the good, the bad, the ugly, or the indifferent. Bookmark the middle two for future adjustments.

(1) Begin your searches in the incognito tab of the Google Chrome browser. Search using your name in quotes as shown on your current resume/vita. For example: “Denny McCorkle”.

(2) Is your resume name found in the first 5 to10 search results (top half of page one)? Click thru to confirm it is your name and not another’s.

(3) Do you have any competition with your same resume name on page one of this search? Are any of these competitors likely to dominate your personal name search in the future due to their popularity on the web or career position? [such as a celebrity, politician, social influencer, or someone with an infamous or questionable reputation]

(4) Do any of your desired professional social media profiles rise to the top?

(5) Do any of your undesired personal and public social media profiles rise to the top?

(6) Does everything found with your personal name present an unquestionable professional image of your personal brand?

(7) Are the images found in this search of you? Click on the Images button for a deeper search. Try this: right click on your preferred or most used personal image (Search Google for image) and Google will find other places on the web where that specific photo is found, even if your name is not on the same page.

(8) Don’t forget to click the other buttons in your Google search, such as News, Videos, etc.

(9) Now try a search for all your email addresses. Yes, all of them. You can be found on the web anywhere your email addresses appear, even if your personal name is not on the page. A reverse email search allows others to find you on websites where you used an alias or handle and not your personal name.

(10) Besides an email address, potential employers or people you meet may use the phone number found on your resume or business card to do a reverse phone number search. You should do a search of the phone number used on your resume to know what they may find.

(11) Go to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram and complete the same resume name search.

(12) Notably, you should do your resume name search on LinkedIn and determine if the public profile vanity link is available. For example: LinkedIn is the most valuable of all social media for the show and sell of your resume qualifications and for potential employers and social recruiters to find you.

(13) Do you need to do more to improve what others may find with your resume/personal name search?

(14) Should you consider a minor name variation to use on your resume and social profiles? Try a search with your middle initial or your middle name, etc. Which name variation has the least competition?

(15) You should also do a personal name check for availability on the social media. Go to or and try a search for your current resume/vita name and any variations of your name that you are considering. Be sure to enter your name with no spaces. For example: DennyMcCorkle.

(16) For added measures, using the private mode, you should do your personal name searches on Bing and Yahoo.

  1. Consider a Resume Name Variation.

With the above search results, you should consider which variation of your name to use for your resume/vita, Gmail, and social profiles. The more consistency in personal name use, the better for personal branding. And remember, if you already have several social media accounts, you can always go in and change the social ID or display name used on those accounts (if the new name is available).

The most common problems are with personal name search results that match the name of a celebrity, social influencer, or others with an infamous reputation. I have had some of my social media marketing students discover that their resume name matched with third-rate celebrities, retired professional athletes, never heard of before porn stars, and socially loudmouth goofballs. These famous or newsworthy names may continue to dominate the search results no matter what social activity you do. Thus, requiring a personal name variation.

As said earlier, some variations are to add your middle initial, your middle name, or a nickname. For example: Denny E. McCorkle, Denny Earl McCorkle, or Denny (Den) McCorkle.

Conversely, many of my social media marketing students find that their personal name has competition in a Google search. However, their efforts to optimize their resume name with consistency in use of their personal name, social profiles, and social activity can push their personal name to the top of the search results. Thus, not requiring a name change. But, requiring an added effort for consistent use of personal name and accompanying social activity.

And, occasionally, I see students with lots of search results competition for their personal name regardless of which name variation is used. If so, then it is best to stick with the first and last name.

Nonetheless, review the results of your personal name SEO audit and go forward with the resume name that seems best.

Quote: “The resume name is the trigger for the most important personal name search, a search by a potential employer.”

  1. Next Up: Claim Your Resume Name Across the Web.

Whether you stick with your current resume name or a new and improved variation, the next step is to repeat all the searches above, visit your profiles and websites, and make the desired changes. Make the changes for display name and your profile ID name.

Consistency with how you use your name, both on and off the web, is critical for a better personal name SEO.

I will write about conducting a personal name claim in my next blog post.

The Take-Away.

Development of a personal branding strategy begins with a Personal Name SEO Audit and possibly a variation in use of your name on your resume and across all social networks.

These efforts will ensure that important career-relevant others can find you easily and quickly without confusion with other similar names.

These are my thoughts and now they are yours.

Did you complete the personal name SEO audit and make some resume name variations for better search engine results? If so, please explain below.

Image credit: Denny McCorkle.

This article originally appeared on Digital Self Marketing Advantage and is republished with permission.