Hey everyone, just wanted to say I'm truly flattered my blog got posted to HN and made the front page (I'm the author). I hope people found it helpful
1) Some of you wanted to know how HN compares to other sources for us, in terms of signups, conversions, etc. I'll post it in this thread at the end of the day (would you guys want a follow up post on this "Value of HN visits")
2) I've gotten some great feedback on the actual product from the HN crowd, which is awesome. Feel free to leave any feedback on this thread (you can try it at http://brandyourself.com)
When we first created the profiles, we wanted to optimize for your industry as well. We didn't want people putting in anything so at first we just used the industries used by the US Labor Dept (LinkedIn does the same). Now we allow you to manually add your profession too, but I just kept mine as "Internet" because it seemed the closest.
Sometimes a name is just too competetive to realistically expect to own the first page. That said, using our service, you are very likely to get some stuff about you up there. That visibility is important. If your name is Brad Pitt, people know you aren't the actor, but at least they found what they were looking for on result 6.
You are thinking the right way by trying to add an initial or middle name to your name. I'd be very surprised if you're name was too competitive to get some results.
Shoot me an email, I'd be happy to take a look and give somem advice pambron [at] brandyourself [dot] com
Patrick, can I ask if you get any actual calls in response to "call and talk to the real person" offer on your website? I'm sure many on HN recognize the importance of having a phone number on the site, but it'd be very helpful to know what it translates to in real world.
Yea, we actually WANT to talk to to as many users as possible. We get at least half a dozen calls a day. Trevor, our "customer happiness officer" spends all day talking to customer, answering people's email, etc. It does a few things
1) People get so excited to talk to a real person, even if they've just experienced a bug. These people become huge fans
2) It's the best way to learn about who's using your product. It's much easier to design and develop when you're thinking of specific people
I remember hearing on a mixergy interview that one founder pointed the importance of having a phone number on her website. She said 100% of the people who called ended up converting it, but just having the number there increased the conversion rates.
"As any startup will tell you, most publications will only feature a startup if given some sort of exclusive. In their eyes, the only reason to cover a startup is if it provides readers with something they can’t get anywhere else."
How do you start this conversation with a publication? How hard is it to simply cold email Mashable and attempt to get an article?
I'm assuming once the relationship is built it's easy to get follow up posts but do you have advice for making that initial connection?
When you're pitching a writer for the first time, I've found it's best to keep it short, focus on the story (show them the angle), and make it clear you just aren't blasting a bunch of writers. I usually try something like "Hey I'm the cofounder of BY. We just launched a product that helps people improve their own search results without having to spend thousands of dollars on a reputation firm. For example, my co-founder Pete couldn't get an internship in college because he was being mistaken for drug dealer and couldn't afford 7K to fix it. I read some of your posts on online reputation (link to them) and thought this might be a good fit. Let me know if you're interested--have plenty of details if you want to know more"
And yes, once you establish that relationship it becomes easier to tell them about an upcoming story. Even then, you want to keep it short, and focus on the story for them so the hard work is already done. "Hey, we just released a new feature. We can actually tell you when an employer googles you or finds your profile. For example, say you're interviewing at ad agencies in NYC, you might get a alert that says someone from Ogilvy just Googled your name and found your profile" We're really the only place providing this intelligence, let me know if you want more"
Haha, much appreciated man. I think our profile is more personal than a LinkedIn, but we also provide something they don't. You can submit any link about you (LinkedIn, personal website, article written about you, etc) track it's ranking, and walk you through everything you can do to make it more search engine friendly so it ranks higher for your name
Very interesting product. I haven't yet had a chance to fully explore the site, but I will certainly be creating an account in the future.
I have two concerns:
1) What happens when two people with the same name sign up? Couldn't that lead to issues where they're both trying to promote their own stuff while burying the others?
2) Is there any way that someone could pose as someone they're not in order to sabotage that persons google results, or I could see the possibility of a friend doing that in order to pull a prank on you?
As I said I haven't fully explored to site, so if these concerns are addressed on there, apologies. Great article!
1) In terms of duplicate names, the product also helps you optimize for specific relevant terms like "Patrick Ambron, developer" or "Patrick Ambron, BrandYourself" "patrick ambron, NYC" etc. So people looking for you will be able to find you. That said, if two people are competing for the first page of Patrick Ambron using our service, the person more actively updating and creating content will edge the other out (google loves new, relevant content). But, at least they'll be a leg up on all the other Patrick Ambron's of the world
2) This is definately a possibility--in the same way, I can go and create a wordpress site using your name. It's hard to detect, but there are warning flags we look for. If you create an account for Patrick Ambron, but don't have the authentication for any of the other profiles (FB, twitter, LI) it looks suspicious and we check it out. We also have a policy where if you email us because somebody is using your information in an account, we will suspend the account for you, until the user can verify that they are who they say they are.
@pdx yea you nailed it. Most of our users end building a BrandYourself Profile, which is a simple (but pretty) profile that's really well structured around your name, so it generally ranks on your first page. From there we can use the IP addresses of visitors to determine who they are
We could always tell you when someone found that profile and where they came from (they came from FB, or they came from Google after Googling your name", but recently we started mapping the IP address to organizations. That data is really accesible--you can buy a list from most major hosting companies--but it's not really used for this purpose
Very cool, looks like it has a lot of potential. I'm hoping you have some spam prevention strategies in place, though, as it seems pretty ripe for it as it takes off (just like any free service that lets you create profiles and post links to sites, but especially a service that promotes SEO and posts followed links to sites)
Yea that's a good point. The nice part is, we don't create any profiles or links on behalf of the user. They need authenticate things like twitter, fb, etc on their own, so they actually need to have or create these profiles. They need to go through the work of creating all the relevant content, and linking it to eachother, we simply let you know if they are optimized/filled out enough, and track their ranking
Interestingly enough, one of the things we need to keep our eye on is people going through the trouble to create accounts--including social media profiles---about other people. Would not have guessed that would be a problem
That's a really good idea. It could serve the purpose of giving you a badge, but it could also be a protective measure, because it means we won't let somebody else with your info use the service (since they aren't verified)
Thanks for the kind words and for using the product.
Right now we are focused purely on individuals (it helps us keep the product simple). It stems from our mission, "a person shouldn't have to pay a lot of money to manage or improve their own search results." While small businesses are easier to monetize, we're happy to just help as many people out as possible, and as long as 2% want the premium features, we're in a good place
Yep but helping small business have a positive white hat SEO, could be huge. I myself have been searching your page for small business option, and I am more willing to pay for my startup than for me (and I´ll probably convert the private account).
I do think there is a big business there, but it's also crowded and more complicated. People don't realize how big the individual market is, and we want to be the ones who own it. But reach out to me, I'd be happy to show you how to use the product, and give you some additional tips for the business front--pambron[at]brandyourself[dot]com
While this break-down is very interesting, it all boils down to one thing: they announced an innovative feature that interests a lot of people. Things could have played out differently but the outcome would be the same - lots of signups.
If someone from the company is reading: I found out I already have an account (probably from the time it launched), but I can't access it. Login doesn't work and when I try to reset my password it says "e-mail not found".
Just a thought - some people go to a lot of effort to 'hide' who they are by ensuring their name does not turn up - or if it does its so mixed in with many result's that it would be hard from a casual review to determine this is the John or Jane Doe one is after - while others a lot of effort to make sure a search turns up the correct Mesers Doe.
Our view is pretty simple on this: Whether you like it or not, people are going to Google you, and they expect to find you. 75% of HR depts. are now required to Google candidates before searching for them, 30% of all daily searches are for someone's name. If you don't show up, you miss an opportunity to mold that first impression.
You might as well be proactive and make sure you have some relevant content well optimized. Otherwise you might be represented by something negative posted by somebody else, or something irrelevant, or mistaken for somebody else all together--my cofounder Pete couldn't get an internship in college because he was being mistaken for a drug dealer
In other words, if you don't define yourself, something else will.
I really like your product, but the only issue I had was when I was boosting my links. After every step in the boosting process I was asked to share that step with my Social Network, while that may help my SEO it became more of a nuisance. I would like to be asked only after completing all of the boosting steps.
I really like how you guys built a viral mechanism into the product. You incentivize the user to share their BrandYourself with their existing profiles/networks to receive a "boost", which helps spread word of your product. Pretty ingenious if you ask me. Good job guys!
Thanks. The trick is to figure out how a viral mechanism that aligns with your actual value prop. People want their links to show up higher in google, and sharing them on social networks will actually help in that process. It fits :)
Thanks Nickler. Glad we were able to convert you :) We've actually found that startup founders/entrepreneurs are great, great users for us. If you're interested I'd love to talk to you on the phone, and get an idea of how you approached the product, and what changed your mind.
If you're interested, just shoot me an email (pambron [at] brandyourself [dot] com)
Thanks Eli. That's actually because I just created this blog about 2-3 days ago (this was my first post). It'll take a bit before it's picked up and starts ranking. That said, I should see it go up soon, since I use BrandYourself :)
I would be interested in such a plugin as well. Given that I have a very unique name (Moncef Belyamani) and that I've had an online presence for quite some time, I've owned the first page of search results for both my name and my "monfresh" nickname for years. I don't have a need for a BrandYourself profile, but the "associate an IP address to a company" feature is intriguing, and the analytics service I use for my sites (getclicky) doesn't seem to offer that. Are there any analytics companies that do?
Surprisingly, very few analytics companies do. I'd go as far as to say just us (at least in what I've seen)
The reason is, most analytics company's are meant for places that get a lot of traffic. It's not really appealing or useful to have such specific info on one visitor, Instead you want overarching information about all of them
A person on the other hand, probalby has one or two people finding them a month. That means each visitor is someone important. You want as much information as possible to figure out who they were (where did they come from, how did they find me, where did they work, etc) Our goal is to get as much information as possible to you
Thanks. I think focusing on a good product is the most important thing. We do one thing really well: when someone googles your name we help you make sure you have the most relevant things showing up. In terms of Hashable, we aren't a direct replacement, but the type of people interested in networking apps generally like to make sure they look good online :)
Yes, users can pay for premium features (free users can submit, track and boost up to 3 links, paying members can boost unlimited) With our model we hope 2% convert to paid at some point in their Lifetime as a user.
In terms of this push, most of the major US press has been a phenomenal source (which was the bulk of this surge). 2-3% converted in the first 24 hours, and by 8 weeks that number was closer to 5%. Mashable by far being the best, followed by Huff Post
BrandYourself profiles were/are another amazing source. This makes sense too, because it's coming from a trusted source.
Google and Direct isn't quite as strong (which makes sense since the sources are so varied) but we still get above the 2% mark by 4-5 weeks
The signups from foreign publications were pretty bad. They signed up for free at high rates, but they just don't pay (.5%). Not entirely sure why, but until we figure it out, we put people from those places on a wait list
>The signups from foreign publications were pretty bad. They signed up for free at high rates, but they just don't pay (.5%). Not entirely sure why, but until we figure it out, we put people from those places on a wait list
Do you have international friendly payment methods? Regionally tiered pricing? And what do you mean by, "we put people from those places on a wait list"?
Right now we use braintree to process payments. They accept all major credit cards, in all countries. It keeps it simple on our end, but if someone in, say Brazil, doesn't use a major credit card, then we can't accept their payment.
It's quite possible that in many countries, it's a small percentage of people who use cc. Anybody know any specific info or data on this?
Yea absolutely. We track everything through our own internal system and through analytics. We want to know where our best users come from. Which sources get people to sign up, which sources bring the most active people, and which sources lead to the most subscriptions. It helps you focus your marketing/PR efforts.
I'm interested to see how HN does for you. The front page in my experience drives an order of magnitude less traffic than you saw from Mashable, which is still a nice bump. Let us know how we convert, eh? :-)
1) We happen to have a value proposition that appeals to almost everyone. Almost everyone has Googled their name, and thought about improving their results in some way or another--maybe there's something embarrassing, or maybe someone else with their name owns all the results, or maybe they have certain things they just wished showed up.
2) We worked hard on our home page
--we explain what it does, who we are, and how it works in as little words as possible, and lead you right to sign up (we tweaked this language so many times I can't tell you) Everytime it seems clear enough to us, we would put it front of random person. If they didn't completely understand what we did and want to sign up, we went back to the drawing board. We did this over and over again.
--For those who need more validation we lead you to more info: our company story/mission, our press, testimonials, et. I call these "credibility boosters"
3) We give a lot away for free. People like free stuff
There is one problem with the "find who is googling you" feature. For about a year now, google has started hiding the search results from the referral when someone uses google while logged in to google services.
You may have seen "not provided" in google analytics for searches that found your site... This is users logged in to google. And with more people using google services such as gmail and g+, more and more results will be hidden. On my corporate, tech web site, I'm seeing 40-50% of results from google as "not provided" nowadays, and its increasing every month.
I thought that's a feature of HTTPS, not sending referral headers to non-HTTPS links. (and so not an explicit move by Google but a necessary consequence of providing secure connections for logged-in users)
Interesting! I made my own guide a while back for my friends, with great success.
1a) Make a "brand" with your middle name
Google your first and last name. If you’re like most people on earth, you’re one of many with your particular combination. So how can you rank higher?
Never fight a battle you don’t have to. Pick a middle name, real or imaginary. Google your new full name.
Example: My name is Kevin Barry. The Google result is completely owned by Wikipedia and other impossible to compete against sites.
My full name is Kevin William Lord Barry. I think Lord sounds cool, so I’ll make Kevin Lord Barry my “official” online name. It’s much easier to rank for and even helps with personal branding.
Put your new name on top of your resume for consistency.
2) Edit/Create Your Facebook
Take your new name. If your Facebook looks professional, change your Facebook name to your new name. If not, make sure your Facebook doesn’t use your new full name.
3) Edit/Create Your LinkedIn
Take five minutes to create a LinkedIn account with your new name. Put all of your resume information on it neatly. LinkedIn will rank well for your new name, and you can brag as much as you want on it without looking pompous.
4) Make Yourself Look Good on Amazon
Make an account on Amazon, using your new branded name. Pick a couple of books in your industry with good ratings. Read the summaries (read the book, preferably, but I won’t judge if you don’t). Leave a review of the books that makes you look good: show that you know industry terms, talk about your experience, etc.
Each review you leave will go to your Google front page and make you look smarter. This only works if you know enough about your industry to sound smart, of course. You can also do this for textbooks, or fiction that you like if you want to sound interesting.
5) Make Accounts on Web 2.0 Websites
Take five minutes to make an account on sites that allow descriptive profiles with your full name Quora, Yahoo Answers, DisQus, Meetup, or anywhere else you want. Feel free to participate in these communities to help even more, although it’s not necessary.
6) Strut Your Stuff!
Here’s where you can have fun and really seem impressive. Go to Weebly.com and make a free website, called “yourfullname.weebly.com”. Set the page title to “Your Full Name Online” and the page description to “Your Full Name’s Online Website”. Write a paragraph about yourself on one page, and a page with links to your linkedin, Facebook, or anywhere else you want to show people. Go nuts and add anything else you want that might make you seem interesting.
This has worked well for me personally. My dad and I have the same name, and I share a fairly common name for Dutch people. My name is Bert Regeer, but I always go by Bert JW Regeer. In conversation I am still Bert, but everywhere else I am Bert JW. This solves a lot of problems.
People no longer get me confused with my dad or some guy working for Shell, when I sign up for mail or anything along those lines it has my middle initials in the first name field (unless they have a special field for middle initials) and I don't have issues with my dad and I sharing a name (If we travel together, sometimes the airline will cancel the ticket because they believe it is a double booking ... makes it really fun when we both go to check-in).
Best of all, I now rank really high for Bert JW Regeer. As in, almost everything on the first through third page are exclusively me (may change depending on location) on Google. That makes it fairly easy to find me.
This is a really good idea (we encourage users to do it). If you have too common a name, use a middle initial. The trick is, you need to use that name in prof. setting (biz card, resume, etc) otherwise people will still Google the other name, and they won't find you