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Google, the Verb

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It is no secret that Google is the world's leading Internet search tool. It is used over 200 million times a day; people in virtually every country in the world use it.

But this article is not about the noun Google, it is about the verb. The world's newest verb, “to Google,” has become a part of everyday vocabulary and a part of everyday activity, too. Many of us Google more often than we do any other task while at work each day.

It was just a few months ago that I started hearing this new verb used freely and without explanation. When I heard it used twice in the span of a few hours, I knew I was onto a trend.

The first time I heard someone use Google as a verb, I was on a conference call with a group of colleagues, discussing a new offering that we are about to launch. One of my colleagues explained that a certain competitor of ours was “certainly the perceived leader in delivering this type of offering.” But another colleague jumped in, “Apparently not, I just Googled her and almost nothing came up.”

Hours later, I was in a meeting with a prospective client. We were discussing the importance of internal branding, and I was explaining how I wrote an article about turning employees into brand evangelists. Before I could finish saying the title of the article, he said, “I know, I Googled you before you came in.”


This time I was Googled.

Perhaps one of the more recent catalysts for this new trend was the TV show Sex and the City. In an episode in the last season of this extremely popular show, Sarah Jessica Parker's character, Carrie Bradshaw, spoke with another character, Charlotte, about “Googling the Russian” to get more info about him.

Whichever the events that fueled this trend, being Googled or Googling is far from a fad. At a networking meeting, I discussed this phenomenon with a group of career-development colleagues. They unanimously agreed that being Googled is common—and it is here to stay. It provides another data point we'll use when making judgments about those around us.

This phenomenon is obviously associated with the overwhelming popularity of the world's No. 1 search engine, but that is not why it interests me. The implications of being Googled are widespread when it comes to building and managing your personal brand. As a personal branding consultant, I'm captivated by the power and I'm intrigued by the implications of this new phenomenon.

More and more, when people want to know about you, they will type your name into the world's leading search engine to see what it reveals about you. Whether you are applying for a corporate job, pitching some work as a consultant or hoping to get a date with the woman in the cubicle down the hall, you can count on being Googled.

Being Googled reveals how visible you are on the Web, and visibility (at least among your target audience) is critical to successful personal branding. Your Google results also become useful data points for those who are looking to make decisions about you. So the prospect of being Googled brings up some interesting questions if you are building and nurturing your personal brand:

  • Is being Googled the new millennium version of a standard credit-check? Will your Google results be figured into whether you will get a loan, secure an apartment or get accepted into an educational program? Will being Googled become a routine step in evaluating someone's application for any number of activities?

  • If you don't show up in Google, do you exist? Quantitatively speaking, you are somebody if your Google results cover multiple pages. You are a really unknown brand, however, if Google can't find you, or worse, if it finds your name only in a list of obituaries. So if you don't show up in Google, will you be dismissed?

  • Will being Googled replace reference checking in job interviews and client bids? After all, Google provides a much more objective view than those whom you select to be references for you. Will your Google results be the determining factor in whether you get in to see a new client or are considered for a new job?

  • Will being Googled change the way we name our kids? Having a common name can be a challenge for getting an accurate Google assessment. Google doesn't discern between John Smith the upstanding CEO of Acme, Inc. and John Smith the serial killer who escaped from prison and is on the run. Just as the trend in company and product naming has moved to creating names for originality and to ensure domain name availability (think Altria, Yahoo! and Avaya), will parents in the future be creating one-of-a-kind names for their children to ensure accurate Google results?

I don't have all the answers to these questions. But as a personal branding strategist, I am completely fascinated with this new verb and all that it means for my personal branding clients, not to mention my own personal brand.

I decided I would start to use the verb Google as part of my regular vocabulary. So I sprinkled it into conversations for the past couple of months to see how it went. And interestingly, it was accepted as a part of regular vocabulary without anyone questioning me about its meaning or validity as a verb.

Googling is becoming common, and it's not going away. So when you are working on building your brand, don't forget to build a plan to increase your Google visibility and ensure it says what you want it to say.

Tips for positive results when you are Googled:

1. Create your own Web site. The best way to ensure that your personal brand is being accurately communicated is to communicate it yourself. Whether you are a professional, an executive or an entrepreneur, having a personal Web site is not longer a nice-to-have, it is a must-have. You must first own your own domain name. So buy it now or you run risk of being . And to ensure that your Web site sends the right message, unless you are Web designer get support from the experts. A low-quality Web site is worse for your brand than no Web site at all.

2. Publish articles. Publishing articles on the Web about your passions and interests is a great way to increase your visibility in Google. There are lots of article banks and Web portals that will accept your articles. ArticleAnnounce from Yahoo! accepts articles of all kinds and makes them available to those who need content for magazines and e-zines. Find the rights places to post your articles and make a plan to regularly submit content that will drive members of your target audience to your Web site.

3. Get mentioned on others' Web sites. Linking with other like-minded individuals will improve your Google ranking and increase your visibility, enabling you to further communicate your brand. Find the right sites with which to link and develop a linking arrangement with them.

4. Buy appropriate search terms. If you really want to known for something specific, buy the Google ad words related to that topic. This will ensure that you show up on the right hand column of all Google searches for the terms you select.

Now that Googling is a common part of many people's vocabulary, I realized it's time to move on to another new personal branding related verb: alexa (v)—to check the relative ranking of someone's Web site to see how it compares to your own or to its competitors.

I will talk more about being alexad in another article. For now, I have to Google a new client so that I can prepare my pitch for her business.


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William Arruda is a personal branding pioneer, the founder and CEO of Reach Personal Branding, and the author of Ditch. Dare. Do! 3D Personal Branding for Executives.

Twitter: @williamarruda

LinkedIn: William Arruda

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