Last week I started looking at the branding savvyness of a handful of speakers at Search Engine Strategies, San Jose. There was no way I could go through each and every speaker so I narrowed the list down to those who spoke in sessions I attended.

Here I continue through the list (alphabetically) and will provide an additional bonus: me. Yeah, I got my own set of branding issues which I uncovered once I started looking into some of the others here. But before I rip me a new one, let's continue...

Rebecca Lieb, ClickZ Network
Some fun stuff here. A search for Rebecca Lieb brings up an error page on the ClickZ site taking top honors. Her ClickZ profile page comes up just below. When I search Click Z Google helps me out suggesting I meant "clickz". I did, but it doesn't matter because the ClickZ site is at the top with ClickZ related pages filling out the top ten.

Misty Locke, Range Online Media
Searching for Misty Locke brings me first to her Pubcon Profile and then to a magazine article featuring her. An interesting tidbit, the urban dictionary has an entry for that name. A search for Range Media puts the company website in the first position with another company named "Range Media" in the second spot. If you search for Range Online Media you certainly won't miss the company site in questions.

Todd Malicoat, stuntdubl
Looking for Todd Malicoat in Google certainly doesn't uncover any findability issues. The top two spots are Todd's website and about us page. The top ten are all Todd, including a video result from PubCon. Of course, if you only know Todd's handle "stuntdubl" you could be in a bit more trouple, depending on how you choose to spell it. A search for stunt double starts us off on the road to nowhere as Todd cannot be found on the home page. A second search for stuntdouble is equally dissappointing. Hm... how else might someone spell that? Let's try stuntduble. Finally some good news. The top spot is a post on the stuntdubl.com website, but what's this? No mention of Todd. Andy Hagans noted in the result there instead. Way to go Andy! Finally, five results down (if you look carefully) you can see a result that actually mentions Todd with "Stuntduble" bolded. Another couple of places down we find another mention of "Stuntduble" which is a reference to Todd's website, but the URL in the description of that result is the wrong URL - a broken link to www.stuntduble.com. To pile things on, the last three results are all blog that reference Todd as, you guessed it, "Stuntduble". This includes a post on SEOmoz (pulled from a visitor comment, not from the SEOmoz team themselves.

Gregory Markel, Infuse Creative, LLC
Searching for Gregory Markel gives top honors to Gregory... but not the one I'm looking for. Two more sots down and we see Greg's PubCon bio page. The number ten result, linking to Greg's LinkedIn page, is the only other result that leads us to our seekee. A search for Infuse Creative is a bit more rewarding, with the site in question taking top spot. The number two spot, however, goes to a similarly named company "Infuze Creative". Seven more of the top ten results reference Infuse in some form. Disturbingly, the number eight results reads "Teenage Sex Ed Videos" which, from what I can tell, has nothing to do with the company. Not quite what you expect (or want) to see next to your company name!

Mike Murray, Fathom SEO
With a common name like Mike Murray, how do you expect to be found? Apparently not by your name. None of the first ten result are for our Mike. Not a big surprise. What is a surprise is that searching for the company name was a bit more difficult than I anticipated. Let's back up. When I put together my list of names I'd be analyzing for this, I came across two individuals from Fathom. Or so I thought. I removed one just so I wouldn't have duplication, but now as I'm looking at this (and at my search history from the conference) I realize there are not one, but two Fathom companies, both in the SEO industry, and both which had speakers at SES. Mike here is from Fathom SEO while the other Fathom company is Fathom Online. It wasn't until I did separate searches that I realized these were two different companies. That can be a problem. A search for Fathom SEO puts the right Fathom in the top two spots and it appears that the rest of the top ten are related. But if you don't know which Fathom you're looking for you run into problems. Results for Fathom are varied and Fathom SEO has no placement. Though Fathom Online does appear in the number eight position.

Cameron Olthuis, Advantage Consulting Services
Searching for Cameron Olthuis gives me exactly what I'm looking for. Cameron's website is in the top two positions and the rest of the top ten results are all related. Searching for the company is a tad less successful. A search for Advantage Consulting produces a variety of, well, Advantage Consultants. It's not clear which, if any, of these is the company that Cameron works at. Interestingly, I do find ACS appearing in the number six position which, I believe, is Neil Patel's company (see below). Are they both from the same place? I don't know the answer to that. I'll expand my search for Advantage Consulting Services and again, we get a plethora of advantage websites. The top spot is awarded to acsseo.com. Ok, now we have something. In the number six position is a url for advantageconsultingservices.com. The description tells me the company has moved to acsseo. So, it appears that Cameron and Neil are shipmates. It took a bit too much work to figure that one out, but those are not the only problems as I'll describe next.

Neil Patel, ACS
I'll start with the company name here to continue from the thread directly above. I first search for ACS because that's all the information I have from the SES guide. If you guessed I'd have a hard time finding the company, you're right. They are nowhere to be found on the first page. Had I not done the searches above, I wouldn't even know what ACS stood for which makes it difficult to expand my search looking for them. But I do know they are in the optimization industry so let's try a search for ACS optimization. No. No. No. No. Yes. There they are, in the number five position. the only result on the page relating to them. But that search was a bit of a long shot anyway. I probably would have searched for ACS SEO, in which case they hold the top two spots with their company pages. Even still, the "dont' make me think" rule was certainly violated. A search for Neil Patel returns pronetadvertising.com in the top two spots and ACS in the number four spot.

Jeffrey Rohrs, ExactTarget
A search for Jeffrey Rohrs doesn't put Jeff in the top spot, but a number of the top ten results are certainly dedicated to him, including two SES profiles, one from 2003 and another from 2007. I then performed a search for Exact Target and I get a number of the company's websites pulled into the top positions. A number of the other results also look related.

Bill Slawski, Commerce 360
You won't have any problems finding who you're looking for by searching Bill Slawski. His blog seobythesea.com takes the top two spots. the third and ninth spots are the only two that don't appear to be related to Bill. A search for Commerce 360 is similarly rewarding with the company website taking up the top two and a majority of the remaining results also dedicated to the company.

Sherwood Stranieri, Catalyst Online
Sherwood doesn't have much problem being found when you search for Sherwood Stranieri with results about him dominating all ten spots. Though if you're like me, you might misspell the name and search for Sherwood Straneri. Google is helpful to offer the correct spelling of his name and the top result does appear to be about him. I don't think you could ask for anything better in this situation.

Laura Thieme, Bizresearch
Searching for Laura Thieme puts her company in the top two spots. All ten results are Laura related, including per global warming blog. A search for Biz Research, however, isn't entirely fruitful. In fact, the company doesn't appear anywhere in the top ten. I figured a search for Bizresearch would be a no brainer, and the company name takes top honors, but Google tries to direct traffic away by suggesting "bigresearch". No fair.

Shari Thurow, Omni Marketing Interactive
A search for Shari Thurow returns a top spot result to books.google.com for Shari's book Search Engine Visibility. The next two results also go to her book with the fourth and fifth going to grantasicdesigns.com a company that I believe Shari is no longer a part of (though they still link out to the Search Engine Visibility book. An interesting note here, they call it "Grantastic Designs' search engine visibility book" Hmmm.) The next two results lead to Clickz.com where Shari writes articles, The next two are SES profiles and again the number ten result is an Amazon link to her book. No mention here of the new company Shari works for. Searching for the company name really gave me some problems. For whatever reason I search for Omni Media instead of Omni Marketing. Nothing there related to Shari. Google suggest Omnimedia so I click on that. Once I saw Martha Stewart in the top spot I realized I may have done something wrong with my search. I try again with a search for Omni Marketing. There are a lot of Omni Marketings but none of them are for Shari's site. Let's try Omni Interactive. Pretty much the same problem with the previous search. Lots of them, but none of what we're looking for. So finally, I search for the full name, Omni Marketing Interactive (grrr, I actually search "Omni Media Interactive" and didn't even notice until proofing!) find success. Top spot goes to here SES profile and the next two to her new business website. I want to try a different track here. Let's say I forget Shari's ultimately forgettable company name and recall that she had a website called Search Usability. I re-start my search for that. No Shari here. Not sure how else to search so let's start by punching in domain names and see what that nets us. Let's try www.searchusability.com first. Nope, not there. Let's see if www.search-usability.com works. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner. I can't help but point out a few things here that violate which I would consider to be common sense marketing. When you're dreaming up names for your new company try to find one that doesn't contain words that hundreds of other businesses already use in various combinations... especially companies that are in your overall general field of practice. Secondly, choose a business name that matches the URL you want, or a URL that matches the business name you want. Otherwise you just create another hurdle to being found. Finally, hyphenations in a URL add yet another obstacle. If you want a URL bad enough, fork over the dough for it. In the long run that'll probably be less expensive than missed traffic from people typing it in wrong over the years.

Derrick Wheeler, Acxiom Digital
A search for Derrick Wheeler gives the top three spots to profiles of Derrick and maybe one other related result. My first search for the company search was Axiom which didn't produce any results. I expanded that to Axiom Digital and came up short again. I must be spelling it wrong, right? So next I try Axciom which gives me nothing that I'm looking for. Google suggests Acxiom so I take them up on that offer. This time I find what I'm looking for but only in the eighth spot. I try another search for Axciom Digital and Google suggest Acxiom Digital, which is what I'm looking for, but at this point it doesn't matter because the top result is the company I'm looking for. The rest of the top ten results don't appear to be related so I click on the "did you mean" link anyway which doesn't change things too much except for giving the company the top two spots instead of one. A few other scattered results are also relevant here as well.

Bonus: Stoney deGeyter, Pole Position Marketing
I have no need to be kind to myself because I know I have a number of branding issues. Let's start with the one I've been hit with here and there over the years, our name. Many people don't "get" the meaning of "Pole Position" so at times it requires explanation. Though those that do get it, get it. This was a much bigger issue back when my company was called "Pole Position Web" but we have since changed it to the more meaningful "Pole Position Marketing." Now let's look at search branding. I'll start off by assuming that that I don't know my own last name and search just for Stoney. No surprise that there are a host of other more famous Stoney's out there. No, just kidding, but there are a lot of Stoney Creeks, beers, wines, and whatnot. Let's try again. This time I'll take a stab at the last name and search for Stony deGyter (first and last name misspelled there). No results but Google apparently knows who I mean and suggests "Stoney deGeyter". I've tried a number of mispellings and Google is pretty good and getting people to the right place. A search for deGeyter is a mixed blessing. Related results for me are number four, five, six and ten. The first three go to articles or profile pages (not to my site) and the number ten goes to my company blog. I can certainly do better. Let's look for my company. I first try Pole Position and, well, that just happens to be a very popular video game in the 1980's. I am nowhere to be found. Next search is for Pole Marketing. Top spot there is my company blog and a couple of other scattered related results but still no company website. I try again with Position Marketing. There I am in the number two spot and the blog is in the eight position. So finally I search for Pole Position Marketing and find that book results are first but then the next two results are my home page and about us page. The next two results are related, with the number five result (six if you count the books) is the company blog. And the rest of the results are also related. I have to admit that I had a bit of an unfair advantage here. When I dreamed up these posts I had already been doing brand searching for myself. I had a bit of a head start and changed some title tags and descriptions to help push us up a bit in the results for some of these searches. We've seen our blog go from page three to page one for the company name and a few other improvement. But we've got a long way to go.
September 4, 2007





Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.





Comments(11)

I really appreciate the insights about how I rank (and the brand conflict). I got some good ideas from your analysis of others too. Thanks for putting it together.

--Mike

Thanks for the research. Bizresearch is our correct company name. We were incorporated in 1997 as Business Research International, Inc. and have been using the DBA since early 2000. Our company name is often misspelled as Biz Research or BizResearch. The correct spelling is "Bizresearch", with a lower case "r". Bigresearch is another company located in Worthington and is often a cause for confusion.

Mike, glad it was helpful.

Sorry about the name confusion on the name Laura. I've edited the post above accordingly. Also, I see that you are showing for a Google search for "biz research" so I either goofed that one up or there was a temporary snafu on the search results. Probably the former. ;)

Stoney,

I'm actually no longer with Advantage, but Neil and I were shipmates so I was a part of ACS. Hope that helps.

Good thing none of these folks are named "Matt." If you are a Smith, Jones, etc... maybe a unique last name change is in order before you begin branding your SEM services.

It definitely helps to have a unique last name. I would have passed your test no matter how you searched for me, by name, by eMarketing Talk Show or by my company, Affordable Search Engine Ranking. Now if only I can get a speaker slot at SES San Jose... haha

Branding a personal name is generally never as easy as a company name, due to the commonality factor. Of course having a unique (and easily spellable) name helps a great deal. I just did a search for my buddy Matt McGee. Common first name and not so uncommon last name (yeah, it's no Jones!) and he comes up front and center. Branding for more common names can be done!

I'm surprised you didn't mention the other ranking "Derrick Wheeler" who went to jail for murder. By the way, it wasn't me.

Acxiom is a tough name to spell, we need to work through this challenge.

Thanks for including me in your report. I'm not good at branding myself. I'll do better by next year.

--Derrick

Awe, crap. I don't even know how I missed that.

Stoney-

With all due respect, I think you should research more thoroughly before you write your articles. Did you ever think of contacting speakers directly?

Then you might have known that there have been 5 passings in my family in the past 6 months (among other things...such as finishing a book, launching a new company, etc.) Many people did not realize that I was at SES New York less than 24 hours after my precious grandmother passed away.

I thought your evaluation was very unfair considering my circumstances. I don't know anyone who could have accomplished what I have accomplished in the past 6 months under my circumstances.

I know my own topic so well that I can practically present in my sleep, but I am not superwoman.

Believe me, I haven't had much time to work on my new Web sites. Client sites always take priority, and it took me many years to get the Grantastic site where it needed to be.

Personally, I think I am doing extremely well under current circumstances. My evaluation would have been considerably different from yours for one simple reason -- I pick up the phone and talk to people.

Really, I don't bite. Neither do the other speakers. It is not that difficult to email or call a speaker and fact check. I do it all of the time.

Sherri, I have the greatest respect for you and your skills but I'm at a loss to see how the personal lives of the speakers factors into my article. While it may have made a very compelling human interest story, and perhaps a whorthwhile one if I was focusing on one or two individuals specifically, this was a "what" article, not a "why" article. Specifically I researched the current branding effectiveness of any of the speakers, not why they were or were not branded well. The personal history of any of the speakers was not a factor in finding that result. Nor should it have been. This was not an indictment on anybody or their SEO skills, but more an analysis of the current state of being. I'm sorry for your loss and I'm certain you have a great story of triumph to tell. But that's a different article for a different day.

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > A Look at Search Engine Strategies Speakers and How Well They Brand Themselves, Part II