Posted on July 20, 2012

Let’s be perfectly frank here: the raison d’être for this blog is search engine optimization (SEO).

As of this post date, the top results for “David Tsao” in Google are:

  1. A worthless LinkedIn directory that lists all the other David Tsaos1.

  2.  David Tsao, the Executive Director of the Asian American Theater

    Company (definitely not me).

  3. Dr. David Tsao, a technical specialist in remediation engineering with BP (also not me).

  4. No one cares.

  5. No one cares.

  6. No one cares.

  7. My bio on Adku’s About page.

I rank a depressingly low 7th– not even above the fold. As someone who grew up on the internet, from AIM and Xanga of the early 2000s, to Facebook and Twitter and the countless other social sites of today, such a low ranking is akin to Google saying that my life is pretty much worthless2. That I work for the internet, as a web developer, only adds insult to this injury.

Why is this important and why do I care so much? Yes, having your name rank 1st on Google is a nice ego boost. But more importantly, having your own website rank well is about crafting your online identity.

Google crawls all sorts of different sites for its search results; who knows what page it will show as your top search result? For some David Tsao out there, it’s apparently Asian American Theater. For me, it’s my Adku page. My employment with Adku will be the first thing that people searching for me will see, whether I like it or not. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, per se; I really enjoyed working at Adku. But what’s to stop Google from deciding next week that my top result is an embarrassing picture or an ill conceived forum posting? I should have a say in how people perceive me online too.

You wouldn’t let a complete stranger dictate how you dress every day– you shouldn’t let Google determine how you appear online either.

  1. I am the 6th “David Tsao” in the LinkedIn directory. This is also unacceptably low and raises the question of how one can raise his stature on LinkedIn. Apparently, I’m not the first to wonder about this, see LinkedIn Profile Search Optimization.

  2. OK so I’m actually pretty grateful that my 12 year old Xanga blog doesn’t come up as a search result for me. I’m also pretty grateful that I don’t see other people’s Xanga blogs when I search for them. But, still.