In September, I decided to focus on evangelizing, writing, and speaking about what I have been doing for the past 12 years: improving companies marketing efforts with analytics, personas, and testing. I’m no longer associated with the company and blog I had been since 1998. However, the search engines had over a decade’s worth of links, many with exact phrase matches for “Bryan Eisenberg” pointing to those two domains that were a big part of my identity. What would I have to do to re-establish my personal brand? Launch a new Web site and blog and be found at a new domain — BryanEisenberg.com?
Time for a New Home Base
I launched bryaneisenberg.com quietly, using a WordPress platform, a few basic pages, and a couple of posts, around September 15, 2009. Of course, I could leverage many of the “social networking” and other outposts where I contributed content, by changing my byline, like I did at ClickZ. So, immediately I changed the links in my bios on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, PeoplePond, BusinessWeek, Amazon authors profile, etc. I hoped that Google’s engine would recognize that all these outposts of my personal brand (that were in my control to some degree) no longer pointed to those two former Web sites and now pointed to my new Web site. I waited…checked Google Webmaster Tools to see what links it would find for the new domain. And nada!
Time to Extend my Reach Beyond my Personal Outposts
I was fortunate enough that several well-known industry media outlets, including the Microsoft adCenter Community and Econsultancy blogs, let me guest post for them and include links in my byline. I figured a few links from these top names and well-ranked Web sites should get bryaneisenberg.com noticed. After all, how hard should it be to rank for my own name? Nada!
About 12 days later, I caught a blip on the search results and showed up in position 159 in Google for the term “Bryan Eisenberg.” It was several days earlier that Google did spider and index on my Web site, but it just didn’t rank for anything.
Part of the challenge of building a reputation online is that many respected Web sites had content about or by me that ranked well when you searched for my name, and was pushing my new home base out of the results. For example, I have done many interviews with folks and Web sites such as, Andrew Goodman, Dr. Ralph Wilson, Larry Chase, Andy Beal, Stephan Spencer, Search Engine Watch, WebmasterRadio.FM, Econsultancy, etc. And as much as I like each and everyone of them, I hated that they ranked higher for my name than I did!
I reached out to them and asked if they would update their content with a link back to bryaneisenberg.com from somewhere on the page I was referenced on, with the anchor text “Bryan Eisenberg;” being good friends they accommodated me. My first goal was just to rank for my own name, I’d worry about other terms later.
I was thinking, Google’s index has to start realizing that this new Web site was really about “Bryan Eisenberg” and should be ranked accordingly. Google Webmaster Tools recognized the first links to my site on September 28, 2009. I checked it after a few more days and it showed only a handful of links. I have hundreds of links just from all my ClickZ columns since 2001 –so, I couldn’t count on that tool to be accurate or timely just yet.
Time to Unleash the Masses
I was planning to launch a post that many people had asked me to update since I first published it on my old blog. This had the potential for lots of attention and links, especially in Twitter and sites like Digg or Delicious. On September 30, I launched “69 Free or (low cost) Tools to Improve Your Website.” I sent a personalized note out to several friends about the blog launch and this new post that I thought they would like to share with their friends, followers, or readers. This “linkbait” worked (I will explore more about linkbait in my next column). The post generated a ton of buzz, hit the top of Delicious, was a popular TweetMeme, and by the next day I ranked number 23 for my name. The day after, I jumped to number 14.
Not great, and for all intents and purposes invisible, but I was finally getting somewhere.
I continued to reach out to a handful of other sites that had written about me or had content I had written for them, and asked them to link my name to the new Web site. By October 7, BryanEisenberg.com ranked either number three or number four for the term “Bryan Eisenberg” on Google. On Bing, my LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles ranked ahead of me in the search results (from my perspective, a fair search result). However, on Google even today the number one and number two results are the two Web sites I was formally associated with. One no longer contains a reference to me, the other still contains years of posts, but when will the freshness and recency of my new blog outrank the years of history of the old one? It’s a question only a few ultra-secretive geeks at Google might be able to answer.
As of today, I have 4,069 links according to Google Webmaster Tools. I obviously need to keep working harder and wait for the engines to rank BryanEisenberg.com number one for my name. What else would you do to climb the rankings? Ask for more help? All new links, tweets, etc. to the Web site are welcome, especially if you have nice things to say about me! Or you can simply do a search for “Bryan Eisenberg,” click on the result for bryaneisenberg.com,and spend a few minutes today clicking and looking through the sites pages and posts (including the 69 tools to improve your Web site), and come back and visit my new home again.