27 November 2006

Paper Trails

Google yourself. What do you find? Does your name rise to the top? Sure, if you’re name is Yeardley Smith or Jon Bon Jovi, you rank at least second place. But if you’re name is as common as Tom Smith and John Walker, you have some serious work ahead. Increasingly, employers look to Google for your online paper trail, whether it be a criminal record or some validation of your claim to fame.

Start with a blog. Write down your opinions on issues, offer advice on love, post your poetry and photos. Once you put it on the Web, you’ve published. Although the media differs, the success of an electronic publication depends on the same principles as paper publications—people must read or refer to you. Hits to your site, and especially links on other sites to yours increase your ranking.

If you want to create an online paper trail, make online friends. They can live in town or in Timbuktu. Visit their site; introduce yourself through their guestbook, comments, or email them about reciprocal links on their site if possible. Most times, you will create a network of online associates with whom you can partner, or just call “friend.”

Links aside, Web-published material establishes you as an authority on a subject, be that anime or afghans. The longer your online paper trail (the more sites that refer to yours), the stronger your authority. But beware, just like so many government office nominees before, paper trails can also destroy your authority. Always remember to believe in your message deeply before you post it.

Once established on the Web as the foremost expert of railroad ties cut from the northern firs of trees from the Umpqua National Forest (ca. 1909)*, you will notice a difference in your Google results. You’ll rank at least second.

*Completely random information that is not meant to resemble any particular individual.

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