Image placeholder title

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — First impressions matter online just like they do offline, which is why it’s so important to make sure that anyone searching for your name sees the right thing. That’s where BrandYourself.com comes in.

BrandYourself helps individuals and brands improve their reputation on Google by finding ways to change the top results that come up when people search for their name. In essence, the website offers users a very rudimentary guide to search engine optimization, a strategy commonly used in the marketing and publishing world to boost the Google rankings of certain pages through keywords and cross-linking.

To start, each user can select one search term – presumably their full name – to manage and improve. BrandYourself will then pull up the top 10 search results that come up on Google, which represents the first full page of Google results. (The first page really does represent people’s first impression of any search term, since studies suggest very few people bother searching much beyond that page.) Then, you have the option to rate whether each of the top 10 results is positive, negative or not about you. Based on your feedback, BrandYourself will come up with a letter grade representing your Google search score.

TheStreet Recommends

The score is a great starting point to determine whether you have a Google problem, but where BrandYourself really excels is in offering clear and simple instructions to boost the search rankings of positive links to your name.

When I searched for my full name using BrandYourself, I was relieved to see that all of the top 10 results were positive, but I noticed my Twitter account only ranked tenth on the list and my About.me page was nowhere to be found. To boost the presence of my Twitter account, BrandYourself recommended adding my full name somewhere in my Twitter bio and linking to the page on my other social networks. Likewise, BrandYourself recommended changing my About.me username to my full name, placing my full name in the headline on the page and linking to the account on my other social networks, all of which are factored into Google’s algorithm for ranking search results.

There’s no guarantee taking these steps will make either of these pages the top Google search result for my name. In fact, because my About.me page doesn’t even rank among the top 10 search results for my name (or even the top 30, for that matter), it’s incredibly unlikely that these steps will even help it to crack the first or second page. However, because my Twitter page is already in the top 10, each position it is in the search results is that much more significant. After all, if you get the right link to jump a few spots into the top five, that could easily end up being the first thing others choose to click on when searching for your name.

We should note that BrandYourself only lets users pick and manage the Google rankings of three links for free. For more than that, you’ll have to pay anywhere from $10 a month to $80 a year. However, the truth is that once you’ve viewed the suggestions BrandYourself offers for those first three links, there’s a good chance you can figure out the formula to improve how others rank.

Seth Fiegerman is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by e-mail at seth.fiegerman@thestreet.com, or follow him on Twitter @sfiegerman.