Since it seems everybody does their own recaps of the sessions they attended at Search Engine Strategies, I like to take a different approach. Last year I ran a two-part series covering just a handful of the session speakers. I looked at how well each branded themselves in the search results of Google.

First of all, I hope nobody takes these as an attack. I don't know your personal story, whether your dog died recently or if your business is two days old. This isn't a look at anybody's history, but rather a snapshot in time.

Readers should think of this more like a case study. See where others succeed or, in some cases, fail, at branding their name in the search results. The goal here is to help readers understand the importance of branding in the search results while also providing ideas for how they can do so themselves.

Last year I took a look at a handful of speakers from whose sessions I attended. This time I wanted to start with the list of SES's Featured Speakers.

Kevin Ryan
Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Watch

My search for Kevin starts with a simple search for his name. Unfortunately, Kevin's name is a pretty common one. Google even provides a related search option for "kevin ryan us attorney". But amazingly here, the Kevin we are looking for comes up in the second position, and points to Kevin's profile page on Search Engine Watch. This even beats a Wikipedia page with links to a handful of famous Kevin Ryans (athlete, author, political figure, entrepreneur, and a former U.S. attorney.) No other first page links point to the Kevin Ryan we are looking for.

Next I run a search for "Search Engine Watch". Not surprisingly, Google gives top spot to the company in question with a handful of additional sitelinks. All but two of the top ten results are related to Search Engine Watch (plus two to Search Engine Strategies). Interestingly, the two non-related links point to Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan's property and, which is Danny Sullivan's blog. Specifically a blog entry from August of 2006 about Danny leaving Search Engine Watch.

A search for "Search Engine Strategies" isn't so well branded with company pages, though all but two of the top 10 spots point to pages that are either company pages or pages that mention Search Engine Strategies conferences.

Lee Siegel

My first search for Lee Siegel turned up a variety of results. The first is a Wikipedia page pointing to three Lee Siegels, none of which appear to be our author in question. The second is a New York Magazine page which is a Q&A with our author. Again, in the third spot is a book review from Lee. The fourth spot leads us to Lee's Flickr page.

The rest of results point to pages which are an assortment of articles, interviews and blog posts. Some are definitely by our author and others are definitely not. Still others are vaguer.

If I try a second search for "siegel author" I mostly get results for a variety of authors with that same last name. A third search for "lee siegel author" gives us many of the same results as the first search. The four new results are a combination of links about our author and the other Lee Siegel.

Satya Nadella

Satya doesn't have all that common of a name, at least here in the U.S. so a search for his name gives us some pretty targeted results. The first result is Satya's profile page on The third result is Satya's blog on the Microsoft Developers Network. In fact all of the top 10 results are related to Satya in one way or another.

I won't even bother doing a search for Satya's company as I'm pretty sure how that will turn out. Who's ever heard of Microsoft? I think the only issue for Sayta is making sure people get the spelling of his name correct. But even if you search just for his last name, we still find a page of results dedicated mostly to Satya. In fact, it appears that only the first two results are not a match, the rest lead to articles and pages about Satya.

Dan Heath
Author, Made to Stick

Running a search for "Dan Heath" produces a page full of various results all related to this author. The first two results (plus various sitelinks) go to The rest of the first page results, with the exception of the #3 spot all go to pages related to author, Dan Heath. The #3 spot goes to a musician of the same name.

Performing a second search for "made to stick" and the results are different but still very much related. This of course is due to the uniqueness of that phrase. In all, anybody looking for this author won't find it all that difficult.

Matt Cutts

Matt Cutts isn't all that difficult to find either. The top two spots go to his website and his blog with the third spot being a Wikipedia page about him. The next couple of results are videos Matt posted on Google Video. Two of the results are interviews with Matt, another is a speaker biography and finally another video, this one posted on YouTube. The one anomaly here is a University of North Carolina page about "Matt Cutts" which has not been updated since January of 2004.

If one searches, not knowing how to spell "Cutts" and instead types in "matt cuts", you still won't have trouble finding him as the first two results will still take you to Matt's blog. The rest of the results are unrelated.

Kirsten Mangers

While you can easily find Kirsten Mangers on the first page of results, here we find that getting to her isn't quite as easy as some of the others. The first result is an old (2005) interview with a Kirsten Mangers who is later referred to as "Kirsten Managers" (note the different spelling of the last name.) The only indication that this might be the same Kirsten is the WebVisibile graphic on the page.

The next result is Kirsten's profile page from SES. Finally, however, the third and fourth results takes us to a WebVisible blog page. Neither are written by Kirsten, but both are about her. Those two results appear to be the only two that are directly tied to Kirsten's company. The rest are interviews and profile pages from various different sites.

My search for "webvisible" was much more fruitful in that the first two results go to the company site and blog, respectively. The rest of the results are articles about the company from various online publications and news sites.


Selecting the featured speakers to review wasn't as interesting as I had hoped. Almost all of them are well-known names which makes it pretty easy to dominate the search results. Tomorrow I'll go through several of the lesser-known speakers to see how well they fare.

August 25, 2008

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.


Stoney, Interesting experiment. Looking forward to the next segment. Just to be sure -- are you signed into Google (gmail), when you're doing these searches? If so, Google personalized search would likely rank some of the speakers on this list higher (with the assumption that search related topics dominate your search behavior). I haven't looked at personalized search in a while. Is it still active and is this a fair question??

Mike, that's a perfectly fair question. Knowing that being signed in can affect the results, I made sure that I wasn't logged in at the time.

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