The Online Name Game

Look, I’m not a brand. Far from it. But, for professional reasons, I realize it’d be useful to have more of an online identity.

Those agents who got a draft of my children’s picture book, what did they likely do? Googled me.

Well, they sure learned a lot about a mathematics professor at UNC Chapel Hill. He’s all over the first page of results. Not me. And my name’s rare. I’m no Joe Smith.

Frankly, it’s a bit surprising, since I wrote thousands of online articles and blog entries for the Philadelphia Inquirer and over ten years.

Weirdly, even if you search for “Peter Mucha” it’s amazing what a wild snarl of randomness you get. Forget finding my “best” or most popular stuff. And, of course, there’s no trace of what I wrote for print, including thousands of Q&As for children I wrote while doing the Inquirer’s Kids’ Talk column for five years.

So what were those agents going to think? Guy’s a nobody?

I need to fix this.

Can you relate? If someone Googled you, would you look good? Or would you come across like a collage of selfies run though a Cuisinart and turned into a jigsaw puzzle?

What follows is some brainstorming, with subheads.

Point at yourself 

Online, you need to be like Blake Shelton on NBC’s The Voice. When he’s wants a singer to pick him as a coach, he puts his hands in the air, and keeps pointing fingers back at himself.

Online, copy that with links.

Links and keywords are what Google and other search engines notice. Their spiders follow links and keep score. Whoever gets the best set of incoming links wins. To say the most links would be oversimplifying. Better to get one lasting link from a website with a high score, like the New York Times, than a bunch from your friends’ short-lived Facebook posts. Generally, though, links rule.

Often a desire for links leads bloggers and others into begging and bargaining, but let’s try to map out a more real, reasonable, controllable and basic path.

First, think of all the places you post online. Besides this blog and a couple others, I have set up accounts with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. I’m not sure about Instagram and Google Plus.

Now decide: What’s the best meet-and-greet page for you?  

If it’s LinkedIn, because a resume and the biz enviro suits you, then figure out how to link from all your other sites to that page. And then link LinkedIn back to those sites, and even interlink them all as much as possible, especially your busiest sites.

Bloggers might want to go beyond filling out some profile form to creating a full-out profile page, and link to that.

Now you’ve got a little network of Blake Shelton clones pointing at each other, with one ersatz Shelton getting the most attention. That’s the one you want Google to notice.

The main name should remain the same.

Key words count, too, so try to use the same full name in every profile spot. Of course, you might want to tailor it a bit if it matches someone famous. Be Bill or Billy or William Smith, not Will, or Kate L. Perry. not Katy.

Since repetition influences search results, bio is more ideal than auto-biography. If every I and me can be Firstname Lastname, Google has much more to notice.

Similarly, if you want to  be known for singing or landscaping, whatever,  mention it and drop some synonyms and related words. Think: What words might someone add who is searching for you?

Speaking of art, be sure to always add captions or explanations or titles to any songs, images or videos you post, because the words are what Google notices.

If you blog, figure out how to gracefully link to your profile occasionally. Maybe the byline can always link.

Best of all,

If you’re really determined to rise to the top, get a domain with your full name. Suppose you go by Alfred Jones and is taken. I can’t say for sure, but my hunch is to change the url, not alter the name. Here’s betting that,, or will be more successful than or or

And that’s my dilemma.

A website with my name might be best, since a LinkedIn profile is kind of formal, I have writings and images and videos I’d like to include (so Instagram wouldn’t be enough), and I have several blogs in various idea stages, without a for-sure No. 1 for all my years ahead.

I do have ideas I don’t want to people to “steal,” and probably will have designed or written items to sell.

Problem is, I’m scattershot. Focus isn’t exactly my thing. And I think putting my name blatantly up in a url comes off as egotistical. I’ve been accused of that. Been working on that.

So I’m inclined to do something like, especially since is taken.

Maybe PeterMuchaUnfocused?

Whimsical. But there goes any hope of shooting freelance photos?

PeterMuchaThisNThat? Enh.

Thought of wordplay on my last name.

Pondering. More later.

Peter Mucha

Leave a Reply