People have mixed feelings about Google. To some the search giant is a big brother, collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data about each of us, its robots and spiders ceaselessly crawling the web.
To others it’s the force behind YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, Adwords, Adsense and other major parts of internet life.
And yet others see it as a company using its long reach and unequaled influence to dominate fields of intellectual life, like it’s doing by scanning and indexing millions of books.
But whatever you think of Google, many web businesses—including self-publishers—owe their traffic and therefore their sales to the people that Google Search sends to their sites.
On The Book Designer, for instance, in the last 30 days, Google is responsible for a little over half of the visitors coming to the blog (50.67%).
Why You Want a Google Profile
Setting up a Google Profile is a pretty simple matter, and I’ll show you just how simple in a minute. Here are some reasons to have a profile in the first place.
- You can link to other social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. Then Google search results will also show information from people you’re connected to on those sites.
- If there is any negative information floating around on the web about you, having a chance to put a positive result on page one might work in your favor.
- The profile itself gives you a url in your name on the Google.com domain.
- Within the profile there are extensive opportunities to link from your profile to all your relevant blogs, websites, sales pages, social media profiles, or any other locations you like.
- Because of this interlinking ability, some people use their Google Profile page as their preferred trackback from blog comments or other social profiles. This way they are certain the page will still be there, and it contains links out to every place you want to link to.
- In addition, the Profile page allows you to enter a lot of text with in-context links.
Google Profiles Still Growing
In an article in today’s New York Times, Claire Cain Miller says that only a small percentage of Google users have created these profiles. If you are a self-publisher trying to sell online, I think you need to have a Google profile and consider it a business opportunity.
In 2009, when Google initiated the Profile service, they offered it as a way to influence what people will find when they search for you or someone with your name.
To give you greater control over what people find when they search for your name, we’ve begun to show Google profile results at the bottom of U.S. name-query search pages.—Google
You can see the linking to social networks has pulled in results from Joanna Penn and Douglas Bonneville, who I’m connected to on Twitter. Below those is the link to my Google profile. Being able to put this link on the first page of search results can be very powerful if you have a name that’s either quite common, or well known enough that people might use it to try to find you.
Setting Up Your Google Profile
This is a simple process that shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. Go to the Google Profile page and click the big “View My Profile” button.
Here’s what the profile setup screen looks like.
There are two sections here that are most useful: Links allows you to plug in all your sites and social media profiles in one place. A Little Personality has a text entry box with a hyperlink capability. Here’s an example of the kind of dynamic, keyword-rich copy you can put on your Google profile:
In a couple of hundred words I’ve put in keyword anchor links to all the Start Here pages on my blog, and to a product page as well. You could do this for your own author blog, linking to your book page on Amazon, your blog page, a media page, or anything else you can think of.
Google Profiles for the Long Haul
No matter what happens in the growth of the internet, you have to figure that Google is going to play a big role. Now we have Google Books. As your presence grows on the net, and as new services arise for Google to search, all of our digital lives will be more and more interconnected. Google looks to be the biggest player in that side of web devlopment. Having a profile supplying all the information you want available is going to be a necessary project for all of us at some point.
You can think of it as your metadata about yourself, how you make yourself discoverable to the digital world.
Will these profiles be powerful? Claire Cain Miller wrapped up her Times article with this observation:
Privately . . . Facebook executives have said that their biggest worry is that Google will prioritize a Google profile page over a Facebook page in search results.
What do you think is great / sinister about Google profiles?
Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, original work copyright by Danny Sullivan, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannysullivan/