Here’s a story that carries an important lesson for professionals, artists, and anybody else who relies on their reputation for business: If you’re not in Google, you don’t exist.
The story is pretty straightforward: A new mall, called the “Americana at Brand” recently opened in Glendale, a city just outside Los Angeles, California. The developer spent $400 million building it and he thought that he had everything figured out. He had all the right permits, he had great anchor tenants, he had a concert and fireworks show at the grand opening, he had a professionally-designed website for the mall, and there was plenty of parking.
There’s only one problem: The mall opened more than a month ago and Google still doesn’t know the mall exists. The address of the mall is 889 Americana Way, Glendale, California. But if you enter that address in a Google Maps search, it says that the address doesn’t exist. Same for MapQuest; it doesn’t know that Americana Way exists at all. Even the Google search engine doesn’t come up with great results: Try searching for “Glendale mall” and the Americana mall doesn’t show up on the first page. Or search for “Glendale shopping” and you again get nothing related to the Americana.
To be fair, the mall does come up on the first page of Google search engine for searches like “Americana Mall“, but it’s not even the first result. That’s pretty bad for a $400 million investment.
How can potential customers find the mall if Google doesn’t know that it exists? And how can they get to the mall if neither Google nor MapQuest know where it is?
The same is true for any kind of professional individual–how can a solo practitioner lawyer get new customers if they can’t search for her name online? How could an aspiring filmmaker get new leads if he isn’t in Google? How could a plastic surgeon manage her online identity if she is nowhere to be found in any search engine? How could an artist sell more pieces if word-of-mouth doesn’t lead customers to his website?
It’s a simple fact that Google is the number one source of information for customers these days. It’s especially true for customers who know somebody’s name but not their telephone number or email address–unless they can use Google to find that information then they are likely to move on.
Concerned? The first step to fixing the problem is to make sure you have a full Internet presence. Read other entries in this blog for tips on how to do so. Or, if you need fast and professional results, there are services like ReputationDefender’s ReputationDefender that will help create an online presence for individuals and move positive results to the top of your results. If you need more serious help, try a fully customized online identity solution. Feel free to post more tips in the comments — how can individuals help maintain their online identities so that customers can find them?
* Kudos to the LA Times for breaking part of the story.