What Do the Search Engines Consider Relevant About You? Analysis of a Name Search

I admit it, I search for my name a lot. Firstname Lastname, click, send, wait, smile! It’s exciting to see what the search engines find most relevant about me. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. Everybody likes to feel important or at the very least less obscure and more accessible online to friends, loved ones, fans, viewers, colleagues you name it.

What’s interesting is the distinctly different types of websites and information that the top 3 (Google, MSN, and Yahoo) return in response to a firstname lastname search. Now a lot of these differences are not specific to a name search and would fit in the categories of convtionial SEO, but the reasons why I think it’s important to talk about this specific search separately from regular SEO are:

1. This search is one of the most important to an individual emotionally. Your first and last name appears on everything you create. It can represent your reputation, your family heritage, your professional image, your expertise, and your experience, all at the same time. Give me another two search words that cover all of that.

2. People use their first and last name in documents and websites in similar ways that differ extensively from other words Most of us, for example, don’t have social networking accounts, blogs, press releases, work history, personal comments and video files all attached to a string of keywords like “buy movies now”.

Recently, do to the pending release of free movie Boy Who Never Slept and an aggressive marketing campaign, references to ‘solomon rothman’ have increased dramatically and span many different sources. Giving this I thought it would be a perfect time to do a search comparison on the different types of results to get some perspective on name searches and what each of the search engines prefer.

Initial things to note:

1. My myspace account is very new with almost to no outside links pointing at it.
2. I use my real name solomonrothman in my usernames for website profile pages. Examples of this are below.

Search results by each engine for solomon rothman

On MSN (results summarized in bullets – see actual msn results here)

My website

My profile page on associated content

My profile page on Design Firms

My profile page on Blog Flux

My user page on Wikipedia

Google Video listing

Contact page on top design firms

On Yahoo (results summarized in bullets – see actual yahoo results here)

The other solomon rothman’s website (not me)

My website

Specific associated content articles

Deep pages within my website


Press releases

Creative commons blog


Comments I made on some substantial blogs

Dig article

Google video

On Google (results summarized in bullets – see actual Google results here)

My website

My user profile at Associated Content

Profile at blog Flux

WikiNews Article

Design Firms Profile

Internet Archive

Feedburner URL


Google Video listing

Wikipedia User Page

Myspace Profile

This is my no means scientific, but by comparing all three there are some interesting conclusions that could be drawn or at least hypothesized about. You would of course need a lot more test data, to make any concrete, but here are some interesting comparisons.

Analysis on searching for a persons name or first name, last name searches

Commonalities among all 3:

my personal website to be the most important / relevant (yahoo liked the personal website of the other solomon rothman more)

individual Google Video Listings were included in the top results

Individual Relevancy Preferences


Values both topic related and general Profile and user pages on large established websites and social networks over other results.

Wikipedia pages including user pages

Link Directories

It’s interesting that it brings up my wikiusername page on the first page results, this is just a free userpage used to let editors I may be working with know more about me.


Specific Articles (as opposed to the profile pages at article submission or promotion sites)

Deep pages within personal website

Internet Archive Listings (put them above Google Video)

Listings and tag entires on technorati.com (blog search engine with listings and tags)


Highly values profile pages on topical sites like (designfirms.org)


Wikinews items rank very high

Internet Archive Video Listings appear EXTRMELEY high

Individual Video Listing from other video distrubition websites like bolt, and vivemo.

feedburner urls

press releases

Individual Dislikes or things that seen to rank substantially lower specifically on these engines


Doesn’t rank press releases very high in results for a person’s name, puts them after profile pages, and directories.

Listings and tag entires on technorati.com (blog search engine with listings and tags) none show up in the top 100.


Wikipedia Items (not one listing in the top 100, as opposed to msn, (in top 10) and Google in top 30


listings and tag entries on technorati.com

Remember that I use my real name as my username and repeat it specifically on the about me pages etc of each of these websites, that I’m sure obviously if you don’t use your first name or last name on these sites, they won’t come up.

Interesting things to note:
In the top 50 resutls of MSN was included my user page on the social bookmarking system del.icio.us/solomonrothman . That’s EXTREMELY intesting because in the meta tags on that page say no index, no follow and no archive:

It appears msn is not only indexing this page, but ranking it above other information rich sites for certain keywords. YET ANOTHER REASON TO start SOCIAL BOOKMARKING.

Interesting trends applicable to all searches

Video in regular search results

Video listings, especially on Google Video and the Internet Archive are showing up for regular keyword searches that don’t use the word video, movie, etc. It appears all the search engines consider topic specific videos (at least the video listing pages) to be as relevant as regular information / text rich websites. A great example is search google for Helicopter fire California. Thinking the “old way” I would guess this search to bring up news articles using those keywords, and it does for some of the results.

In the first 15 entires there are 3 separate references to a video file I uploaded showing a helicopter drop over a fire in California. 2 separate entries for various listing on archive.org and another listing for the google video listing.

This is very powerful and although it may have been prominent in the past, I don’t remember bringing up very many video listings on my normal searches, but things are changing, video is becoming the new sought-after relevant content in the online arena.

MySpace is a very powerfully free resource(other social networks are too)

Even without any additional promotion (outside links for example) my myspace account ranked among the top sites in for my name in both MSN and Google. That’s huge. If you want to put some information on the top spots for a name search and don’t have a lot of time/budget/knowledge to undergo an SEO campaign, consider joining myspace and using your real first and last name. You could have your personal page among the top spots in a matter of weeks. Of course if your name is extremely common, this tactic probably won’t work. No look for John Smith.

Wikipedia is a great place to contribute information

As an extra bonus you may receive some Search Engine Recognition for it. See previous post.

Articles are still a great way to promote yourself

Associated Content is a great place to publish articles and you even get paid.

See pervious post:

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