During last week's SVPMA meeting, we discussed making yourself visible on the Internet. This is an area that I know a lot about (I consider myself a bit of a google user expert) and many people want to become visible to recruiters specifically (or other folks involved in making hiring decisions). 

I think the idea of web visibility gets confused because when people want to test their own visibility, they go out and google their name. Incidentally, I google my name regularly as an ego exercise (hey, at least I am honest) and just want to mention that I am not Miss South Africa, I am not Canadian and I was never fired from a job for blogging (I never knew my name was so common).

Well, if recruiters or hiring authorities already know your name, they probably don't need to google you (OK, maybe they would to try and find additional info on you, but mostly they are looking for people they don't already know). When recruiters are looking for people, they use keywords that don't include someone's name. So for example, if I wanted to determine my own visibility, I would search on these words: marketing, Microsoft, recruiter. These are the words that I think someone would use if they were trying to find my but didn't  know my name. Go ahead and try it...I swear I didn't plant those google search results.

If I were looking for someone, I would probably use some key words and include some words that indicate places I typically find people. Let's see, if I was doing a search for some SQL Server openings we have right now, I might use a search string like this (I'm going to use Boolean commands for the sake of clarity):

“product manager“ AND (“business intelligence“ OR OLAP OR “reporting tools“) AND (conference OR speaker OR bio OR biography)

In this example, I used a functional keyword, some industry keywords and some words typically found on the types of pages that are good sources of leads for me. In this case, speaker lists, conference schedules and bios. If you think that this describes you (a product manager in the BI space), first, e-mail me your resume (seriously). Second, try to search for yourself using these keywords and this will give you some sense of your web visibility. Keep trying it with other key words. In a sense these words define you online and you can work to build visibility in other areas by utilizing these key words in your web presence (bios, blogs, resume blogs, press releases, quotes in articles, conference attendee and speaker lists, user groups, blog comments....I could go on).

I'm not saying it isn't fun to search for yourself by name, just not an effective measure of your true visibility in the industry.