A better place to look than Google

Google appears to be testing ideas to clean up searches for people by name, which is a welcome move. I think we’d all agree that if you search for a name, it’d be preferable to see a listing more like the one you get on LinkedIn, i.e. a ‘directory’ of people with that name. Instead, you may well get a website for one person with that name, but after that the results are more likely to be a collection of web mentions and social media accounts from that same person, rather than other people.

For example, I can’t guarantee you’ll see the same, but if I search for my name, the results show my website, my blog, my Twitter account, my YouTube channel, and more; indeed, I have 6 or 7 of the 10 results. You have to go some way down the page to find anyone else with the same name.

Here’s the thing though: one of these people is, I suspect, more likely to be searched for than me, as he’s a professional musician. However, because I’ve been doing lots with SEO for years, he doesn’t get nearly the prominence that I do. This isn’t a great situation.

Google has gone a small way to acknowledging this now, by giving my namesake his own panel on the results page. This works a bit like Google My Business, where the algorithms determine that the name deserves a panel and populate it with information automatically. With Google My Business however, the business owner can add and maintain information in the panel manually, and that’s apparently what’s going to happen with these ‘people cards’ too. Currently being trialled on a test basis, some people can claim their name for one of these cards and fill in information about themselves.

I’m not sure how this will work – some of you will remember ‘authorship’ in Google a few years ago, where little photos of each article’s author appeared in the results. That didn’t last long, so we’ll see. In the meantime, if you want to find people in business and beyond, LinkedIn (and even Facebook) can be a better place to look than Google.