Brand Yourself with BrandYourself

Why bother to build an online presence if you can’t monitor and control it? Emphasize the positives and de-emphasize the negatives with BrandYourself, a startup that helps you control Google results for your name through good, old-fashioned SEO. SEO, or “search engine optimization” still works in this modern-day and age of social, so it is worth devoting at least a percentage of your attention to it.

 

BrandYourself leverages  the familiar dashboard / profile set up, easy to activate with step-by-step directions. When I say step-by-step, I mean it. They walk you through the process of setting up your profile and boosting your content, educating you on the why along the way. I even learned a few things setting my profile up.

 

There are free and paid options. BrandYourself users employing the free option can optimize up to three links they want to push up in search results for their names. Your profile page will assist you in linking out and into that profile, which increases  Google page ranks. From your profile on BrandYourself, you can  link out to other online profiles, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, or your own sites and blogs. And it will help you promote them, with guidance on how to improve SEO for each site. Paid options give you unlimited sites to link to and optimize.

 

Another interesting feature of BrandYourself is the ability to track who is looking at your profiles and links – the feature is brand new as of thisTuesday. The feature shows you where visitors to your BY profile are located and where they work, based on their IP address. This is done by matching the IP addresses from the visitors to BrandYourself’s own database of publicly available IP addresses. Is this useful? Well, it really only tracks the biggest players – the publicly available IP addresses of smaller players probably aren’t listed in the database. But it certainly will motivate you to keep your BY profile spiffy. And that isn’t a bad thing when you are trying to control your online SEO.

 

 

So, why would you go paid versus free? Here is the comparison chart from their site:

 

 

And here is their pricing:

 

 

You can find my BrandYourself profile here. Since it is free for the basic service and three links, why not give it a try?

 

 

Have You Reddit?

UPDATE: if you aren’t sold on the value of Reddit, can I suggest you take in this inspired discussion on Reddit as to whether the sun is hard or squishy. Thanks BoingBoing – this is truly beautiful.

I’m back! And ready to jump back into all things tech and web. Out of the gate, I thought I would visit a web tool that I have noted for quite some time, but haven’t really taken advantage of – Reddit. Reddit is a social news site that bills itself as the source for what’s new and popular across the web. The content is submitted by the community of users. Those same users can vote up and down the content, creating a constantly shifting front page of popular news. The site is broken up into individual, topic based Reddits. You can subscribe to the Reddits that interest you. While you can subscribe to as many Reddits as you like, your front page can show 50 Reddits at most (more if you are a “Gold” member). Each Reddit has a monitor – a user that helps keep the Reddit moving in a positive direction. You can use a search function to find topics and individual Reddits and build your news sources accordingly.

In order to prevent spamming, there are limits to the number of links you can post during a certain time frame. Users can also accrue karma points based on the submission of well-liked content. Of course, you can also comment on links, so there is both movement in the popularity of links as well as in discussion surrounding the links. And comments can become popular or unpopular via voting, so there is movement in the comment ranking as well.

Reddit has been around for a while, which can mean a potential for irrelevancy in a rapidly changing web. Similar service Digg has suffered somewhat in this regard over the past year or so (as well as from a hellish redesign). However, this negative result does not appear to be the case for Reddit. It has a somewhat smallish, but thriving community of contributors that seems able to actually get things done. Like prompting Stephen Colbert to hold his rally in Washington, D.C. in October, 2010, raising a half a million dollars for charity. Recently, a riveting account of a standoff between the New Jersey police and a gunman bubbled up through Reddit, not Twitter. The Redditor, Elinika, supplied eyewitness accounts and updates to Reddit and the local New Jersey paper, a prime example of citizen journalism at its best.

I like Reddits no-nonsense interface – you see mostly just the links when you visit, and no advertising (Woot!). there are tabs for what’s hot, new, controversial, top and saved, with individual topics at the very top of the screen. To engage, simply create an account, and start linking and voting.  But be careful, Reddit can be mesmerizing – the front page is constantly changing based on user actions and there is a lot to see and explore.

In sum, Reddit is a nirvana for social news junkies interested in the content that interests others.

If you want tools to supercharge your Reddit experience, check out this article at MakeUseOf that highlights some apps / extensions to improve the site’s utility.

Tumbl.in Twitter And Discover The Goods

I am a fan of social web discovery app StumbleUpon. I have, in fact, found some incredibly interesting and useful stuff simply by hitting the “Stumble” button in my browser. That sort of serendipitous discovery is an enjoyable alternative to my full throttle, heavy-duty research-focused method of pulling information out of the Web.

I admit it. I struggle with using Twitter as an information source. Although I have to say the Smartr iPhone app has gotten me pretty far along on the path to being a Twitter -information-aggregator convert. But I will save my love for that tool for another post.

Another tool that has gotten my attention is one that combines the gushing firehose of Twitter with the serendipitous discovery of StumbleUpon. The tool is called Tumbl.in and works much like StumbleUpon does, but for links scattered through your favorite Twitter search topics and lists. StumbleUpon users will recognize the top menu bar with buttons for retweeting, rating, saving for later or the simple Tumbl.in button that will pull you to another link. If you prefer, you can browse links from a given sub-section of your available Twitter links. Like StumbleUpon, you can select categories of interest to affect the results of the Tumbl.in randomizing button.

Tumbl.in definitely has its own niche here. And I like where it is going. If people are seriously going to employ Twitter as an information repository, then apps like Tumbl.in and Smartr that cull all but the links are a great start. Slice and dice through your Twitter stream and find the gems in record time, and leave the Foursquare checkins for the chaff pile.

If you check it out, would love to hear what you think of the service in the comments.

Sifting Twitter Links with SiftLinks

When you want the links, the whole links and nothing but the links from your Twitter follows, there is a better way to find them than simply reading your entire 500+ person Twitter stream for every post with a shortened URL. James Constable has created SiftLinks, a stripped-down application that pulls all of the links from your Twitter stream, converts them to RSS, and sends them to your feed reader of choice. Some people do not particularly like reading their “news” via RSS reader, but for those of us who do, SiftLinks is a nifty tool to futher refine your quest for newsworthy material among the flotsam and jetsam (sorry, just wanted to write those words this morning).

If you fall into the former category and REALLY want to get funky, try feeding the RSS feed full of stripped out links from your reader program back into a dedicated Twitter account. Then load Flipboard onto your iPad, add the Twitter account to your list of sources, and see all of the links displayed magazine style on your 9″ x 7″ screen. Shiny!

Hat tip on SiftLinks to Jane Hart at Jane’s Pick Of The Day (link here).