Actually I am not sure any more. I used to know who David Beaty was but now I am not sure. It’s nothing I did really, it’s more like something I did not do, or actually, more like something someone else did. Allow me to explain…
A few years back if you did a Google search for the terms “David Beaty” you would see an author by that name and me, the “real” David Beaty. Today, when I Google myself, I see the author and another David Beaty who has, over the past two years, been working as a Texas A&M football coach. Of course, he was alive a few years ago when I had his “spot” in the first page of Google search results, and in fact he was coaching other college football teams in other states. There is one major difference however; his new employer (Texas A&M) clearly has a strong online presence. They post a massive amount of content online. Like an increasing number of institutions and companies, they may actually require their coaches to have a social media profile in addition to the regular content the school publishes. They may have a social media consultant or even someone whose full time job is to manage web presence for their teams and coaches. This “other David Beaty” also may have taken a personal interest in social media. Perhaps during his job hunt (before the Texas A&M job), as people recommend, he investigated and improved his digital footprint. Whatever the reason, I, the “real” David Beaty, have been demoted to the world of “not-the-first-page Google results” where no-one bothers to look.
Honestly I thought I was doing it right. I am on most of the social media sites, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and others. In fact I even own my domain (davidbeaty.com) and have claimed davidbeaty.wordpress.com, etc. Many years ago I tried to claim firstname.lastname@example.org, but without any luck, so I went with my second choice, email@example.com. My point is I do technically own my “digital space” in some of the major social media websites, but it is not enough. Increasingly I am realizing that to bolster your digital footprint you need to actually get your name mentioned and your content distributed on the web. I’ve come to this conclusion because that is the one major difference between the “other” David Beaty and me, the real David Beaty 🙂 Because of the size of Texas A&M his name and images get published frequently. It’s not that he simply owns his “name space”. It’s the sheer volume of content out there on the web related to him.
Let’s also keep in mind that different search engines have vastly different results. I had assumed, as many people do, that Google may have slightly different search results than other search engines. I also assumed that “slightly different” also meant “slightly more”. With these assumptions in mind you can see why I was surprised to know that Yahoo has me on page one. That’s right I am on page numero uno of Yahoo search results for David Beaty. In fact, if you removed the ads and image search results I am the 4th hit on Yahoo! The same is true on Duck Duck Go: 4th from the top.
I am also learning that Google does not serve up as much social media results as I would have guessed. Many of the top hits are not Facebook or LinkedIn or Pinterest or Instagram pages, they are basic web pages (Twitter does seem to be on the first page of results fairly often). This may be due to the fact that Google has a harder time getting into those pages to do deep searching, or it may be related to the fact that Google has it’s own social networking site, Google+. I suspect a little bit of both factors are at play.
How can teachers and students benefit from my experience (aka my demotion to page X of Google’s search results)? The message for students and teachers here is that it is not enough to own your digital name plate, you have to have content. It’s obvious to me that I need to do more than just own my own domain and have accounts on social networks.
Here’s a summary of my suggestions for educators:
- Own your domain (ex. davidbeaty.com) or something that represents your “brand”.
- Create accounts on social media websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, blogs, etc.
- Get your content out there on as many platforms as possible. This may mean that you use a tool like IFTTT to double or triple post your content. For example, when you tweet something, you can simultaneously post that tweet to your WordPress blog and update your Facebook status with the same content. Be careful, you don’t need to overdo it and sometimes a tweet just does not work as a blog post, but it does multiply your content very quickly and search engines care about volume of content!
- Post content often. If you don’t do it someone else will and they will control your web presence.
The “Fake” David Beaty