How to test your Internet visibility

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.




Comments (19)

  1. Balaji says:

    Page-rank yourself on Google. You’ll be on top within a few weeks. But for better searches, if you want to really stand out or try something futuristic, try text mining technology. Use any text mining tool to glean information from unstructured text information from large databases. You can find hidden relationships between keywords without even reading huge content of information.

  2. Balaji says:

    Cool..I find myself on Google’s first page, if I type "Market Intelligence"+"text mining". Does that mean something?

  3. Heather says:

    Balaji-just that you are visible in that space. Google obviously ranks by links which is good because is signifies that other people find your content useful or enjoyable. Now see if you can find yourself in other places besides your own site by scrolling down the search results….that’s another big test of visibility.

  4. Balaji says:

    Yes. I find myself with an article I published last week.

    But paradoxically, consider this case: Person-1–A guy who possesses more knowledge in this field, and published several papers offline, and never wrote anything on the web; and consider no one talked much about him.

    Person–2: Less knowledgable, but highly popular due to more people hitting his pages on the web.

    Who’ll be picked by recruiters?? person 1 or 2? Seems to be giving slightly spurious results

  5. Heather says:

    Person 2 will get picked up by recruiters. This is exactly why I am encouraging people to take it upon themselves to create a more visible web presence if they want to be found. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to document a single person’s expertise and recruiters can’t google on word of mouth.

    It’s like saying that if a product is good, people will buy it. If people don’t know about the product, they won’t buy it. Therefore, the company needs to market the product.

  6. Balaji says:

    The conversation makes me go a bit philosophical. Get more things in life by publicizing yourself.. Thanks for igniting my neurons..

  7. Anonymous says:

    rvalues and lvalues

  8. John Kane says:


    To get back to the inital feedback response… I write a blog on SQLJunkies that isspecific to Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Full-Text Search (FTS) as well as to Text Mining and I’ve gotten top rankings on Google with "Text Mining" and SQL keywords. Checkout this Google query results:

    So, I agree with Balaji.



    PS: Look for more news on Text Mining and SQL Server 2005 (Yukon) after it’s beta2 version is released very soon!

  9. Heather says:

    Yeah, I’m not really technical so text mining is a bit beyond me, but hopefully some others here can utilize this info, John.

    With regards to Balaji’s previous comments, I’d have to say that marketing yourself is an art, not a science. It’s not a perfect system, so indeed, the better qualified candidate may not have that much information on the web. I think it’s incumbent upon the individual to market his/herself rather than on the recruiter to somehow "know" about these folks that are not visible (we are trying, but for obvious reasons, we have to concentrate the most time on those that are most visible).

    There’s really no valid reason why a well qualified person couldn’t make themselves visible. Join industry groups, get a resume blog or start a regular blog. There are tons of things someone can do to be found.

    My comments aren’t intended to describe some kind of fair and scientific scenario where recruiters can enter the blog world to identify all top talent. We have to use all the tools available to us and the internet is just one of them (it’s a major one, but there are others). On the flip side of that, candidates can utilize tools to be found and that is the spirit of my post…to explain how to do this better.

    If someone comes up with one tool that will effectively identify top talent, quickly, easily and in a cost effective manner, I think I am out of a job anyway.

  10. John Kane says:

    Hopefully, someone will find the text ming link useful, as I also agree with you in regards to "marketing yourself is an art, not a science". However, at least one company has made it a bit more scientific…

    Checkout "Eliyon Technologies wins first U.S. patent" at – "Eliyon Technologies provides web-based source of information on people and companies. … Eliyon’s customers include companies such as AOL Time Warner, Oracle, Lockheed Martin, IBM, Microsoft, Staples, among others".

    I have my own network of friends and ex-work colleagues, who have provided both job leads for me while I transition from working fulltime on a book project (with a bit of consulting too) to working full time as an employee. I’m also active in the public newsgroups and get not only email replies to me directly, but in one case an actual consulting gig. So, there are many ways of networking and making yourself more visible both on the internet and through your own network of friends!

  11. Heather says:

    Hey John-we do use Eliyon in recruiting. It’s probably not one of my top sources as I find better info just googling folks myself (more current info at least). But I totally agree with you that internet visibility is just one part and that a personal social network is also important. It’s how I’ve gotten most of my past positions.

  12. Delphine says:

    Hello Heather,

    Writing from Mauritius Island, a little paradise in the Indian Ocean.

    I am working on a web site for realestate advertisings in Mauritius (renting, buying…) + realestate info (news laws, projects…)

    Should I think about the Internet visibility before developping the site? If yes, what are the most important advises or error not to do.

    Other question : if I buy some keywords on Google, can I be sure that I will be on the first two pages and will it help for my visibility later on.

    Could you tell me more about "text mining"?

    Thanks a lot

  13. HeatherLeigh says:


    Sorry but I don’t think that I am the right person to answer those questions.

  14. One neat thing I enjoy about having a weblog is that I can view the referrers to see how people navigated to my page. Being a self-confessed search engine junky (hey, that’s why they pay me the big bucks!), I take great pleasure in reading others’

  15. One neat thing I enjoy about having a weblog is that I can view the referrers to see how people navigated to my page. Being a self-confessed search engine junky (hey, that’s why they pay me the big bucks!), I take great pleasure in reading others’

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