Googling Julie McKinney: No surprises in search — thank goodness

This week’s assignment: Google yourself.

I won’t lie — I’ve done it before. In fact, I search my name fairly regularly just to make sure there’s not anything out there about myself that I didn’t know about. My name isn’t as common as John Smith, but it’s also not as unique as names of many people I know. I think it’s important for me, especially as a digital media professional, to be well aware of how I rank in search and with what. I’m fortunate that there aren’t any criminal Julie McKinneys out there (or at least any with better SEO than me), and I’m glad that I found myself near the top of Google’s search results for my name.

After the link to LinkedIn’s directory of all Julie McKinneys (a list on which I am fourth), the next three links go to my profile on AL.com, which shows the posts, photos and comments I’ve published on the website.

Julie McKinney Google results
Also, the photo in the image results with the red background is me.

After that, there are social profiles for Julie McKinneys who are not me, a link to a Facebook directory of Julie McKinneys (a list on which I’m first), and three more social links to non-me Julies.

The bottom half of the first page.
The bottom half of the first page.

I was somewhat surprised to find other multiple other Julie McKinneys’ social accounts ranking higher than mine. Then I realized that on all my social media profiles, my name includes my maiden name — Julie Clark McKinney. On AL.com, my byline reads “Julie McKinney | jmckinney@al.com” because I dropped Clark to keep my byline from wrapping to a second line. So Google is just trying to most closely match my search, especially since I included quotation marks. Note: When I discarded the quotation marks, the results on Page 1 were very similar, but also included two Google+ posts I’ve made in place of the other Julie McKinneys’ social accounts.

On Page 2, I found two more links related to my work. Without launching into a long explanation, AL.com has sister sites that allow you to comment using your AL.com account, so my profiles on Gulflive.com and Mlive.com also showed up (even though it’s the same account as my AL.com one linked on the first page). And still none of my direct social media links.

But I did find that there’s apparently an actress named Julie McKinney. Although according to IMDB, her career has been rather short, I’m still going to give myself cool points for ranking ahead of an actress.

Julie McKinney the actressOn Page 3, I found a Julie McKinney who was a 2012 Republican candidate for District 51 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, another who is an insurance agent in California and another collection of my profile pages on AL.com’s other sister sites.

My Google+ profile finally made an appearance on Page 4. It’s interesting that the profile I’m least active on is the social account that ranked first — but of course not surprising since this is Google we’re talking about.

When I changed my query to “Julie Clark McKinney,” the full first page was me (mostly social media profile links), including the image search results preview.

Julie Clark McKinney Google results

Since I do keep an eye on my name in Google (and I have Google alerts set up for my name, just to make sure), I was not shocked with my findings this week. But it’s always good to check again!

Update, Feb. 26 at 10:40 a.m.: I just realized that I didn’t try Googling my email address. When I search for my work email, jmckinney@al.com, I get all work-related links. This makes sense, because that email address is included in my AL.com byline. When I search for my personal email address, juliecmckinney@gmail.com, I get my Google+ account, as well as several blog posts to my Blogger and WordPress blogs. If you notice, my blog URL has juliecmckinney in it, too.

Did you have any surprises after Googling yourself?  Do any “celebrities” share your name?

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14 thoughts on “Googling Julie McKinney: No surprises in search — thank goodness”

  1. Hi Julie,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. Since I’ve never been married, I hadn’t really thought about what would happen to my Google search results if I changed my last name. But after reading your post, I can tell Google gets a little confused when this happens, especially if you’re using a different version of your name for work than you do for social media. As you mentioned, Google is just trying to do the best it can to provide you with the results that most closely match your name, but I’m not sure it realizes you’re both the same person.

    That’s so cool that you ranked higher than an actress with your same name! My name is pretty unique, so almost all of the results that came up when I Googled my name were connected to me. My Google+ profile, which I’m not that active on, also ranked high for me, which proves Google really does reward people for using it! What I found most surprising was how Google pulled images of people I have in my Google+ circles and included them in the results for when I Googled my name. Oh, and the creepiest thing I found was that WhitePages knew my mom, dad and sister’s full names and placed them in the “people I may know” category.

    1. Oh, weird on the WhitePages stuff! I didn’t see anything like that for my own name. But I guess like you said, your name is more unique, so Google is more sure of who you are. Marriage definitely confuses Google. I kind of wish there was an SEO form I could fill out saying, here are all my aliases.

  2. Hey Julie.

    You and Lynette brought up some good points concerning name variations for women. I know it’s a common practice for some women, particularly amateur entertainers and models, to use their first name and middle name as a stage name to keep their separate from their personal and professional life.

    Of course, people can still find you either by finding enough relevant search results or even paying close attention to vanity URL’s and the bits and pieces of information that people provide on different profiles.

    If I google my entire name I get more results on Peek You, Intelius and Zabasearch than I would if I just googled my first and last name. This is partly because I have had search results removed for privacy concerns, however, I have not been as concerned about my name appearing in search results since I started the MAMC track at UF. Now I am more focused on building a powerful and positive personal brand rather than focusing on online privacy.

    Speaking of which, local news is doing a special segment at 11pm tonight which is relevant to this week’s module. I can’t wait to watch.

    1. Yeah, sometimes being a girl sucks. Who decided that ladies were going to be expected to just give up their names? Confession: I’m not as hard-core feminist as I sound. To me, the worst part was having to go get new Social Security card, drivers license, credit cards, etc. I actually am glad that I took my husband’s last name though — I have better SEO! 😉 Julie Clark is a famous pilot as well as the creator of Baby Einstein (two different people).

  3. Great post Julie! I’ve known about putting quotation marks around search term for quite some time, but I never think about it when I’m actually searching. I wonder if mine are different with quotation marks. I’m surprised there were multiple Julie McKinneys, but then again I was also surprised there are multiple Steven Schiraldis. And I totally would’ve freaked out, in a good way, if there was an actor with my name, even an unsuccesful one.

    1. I’m more surprised about your name being duplicated than mine! But then again, I live with me, so I guess I am pretty used to my name.

      Anyway, I don’t know what I would do without the quotation mark option for search. It makes my life so much easier.

  4. Hi Julie,

    I love that you ranked higher than an actress. I think your post was very interesting because my results were completely opposite. My social media accounts ranked much higher than any of my online writing. Do you have an active Twitter account? If so, why do you think it didn’t show up very high in your search results? AL.com must have really great SEO, so I may have to pick your brain sometime.

    I, unfortunately, do not share my name with any celebrities. At least not any I know of because most of my results were in Vietnamese. But I’ve been having a lot of fun reading about everyone else’s discoveries and secret aliases.

    1. I would definitely consider my Facebook and Twitter accounts active. I probably update my Pinterest and Instagram accounts anywhere from every few days to a couple of times a month, depending on my free time and motivation at the time. I honestly don’t update my Google+ nearly as much as I know I should. So I don’t know why my social accounts — at least my Twitter and Facebook — didn’t rank higher. But yes, AL.com does have some good SEO! I work with our reporters on SEO-friendly headlines for individual stories, but the groundwork for the general site’s SEO was laid before I got here. Part of it is just steadily creating quality content without gaming the system. Google appreciates that. 🙂

  5. Hi Julie,

    Awesome post. This is a great topic- we used to hear about working women’s professional recognition if she changed her name after getting married, or the hassle of having to change your official documents, but no one has talked about SEO! If you ever have the opportunity to write more in depth about the subject, you absolutely should. It’s something that women, especially those who work in digital and social media or who require a web presence, should be aware of and try to plan for before and after they take their vows.

    1. I know several women writers who did not change their name because they had already built up byline recognition and SEO, and a few who legally changed their name but continued their professional/digital lives under their maiden name. It’s a problem unique to women, and it seems kind of unfair, doesn’t it? Just who decided that women would abandon their names? But then the romantic side of me likes that my husband and I now share a name. I’m sort of a struggling feminist, I guess.

  6. Hi Julie,

    Great post. It’s interesting how a middle can influence search results! I never thought that a name could affect how easily people are able to find you. It’s definitely something to think about! I did find some surprising content when I Googled my e-mail. It found my contact information posted in various foreign online contact books. They had my name, e-mail, phone, and even the entire description of my position at work! It was quite surprising.

    1. How strange! I think that would make me feel a little weird to find my contact info on foreign websites.

      Seeing the difference in my results is seriously making me want to introduce myself as “Julie Clark McKinney” instead of “Julie McKinney.” If I market myself that way, people are more likely to get search results that are actually me.

  7. Hi Julie,
    I really enjoyed your post, I didn’t even think about typing in my middle name until I mentioned it to my mom how my grandmother has taken over my Google shine, and she was like and that is why I made sure you had a middle. So I’m sure one day my middle name will come in handy. My Google+ account showed up on the first page on the right side, but after reading some other class blogs I think it popped up on the side because I was logged into Google. 🙂

    1. My Google+ account showed up on the right side too, and I think I remember seeing a note that this was only visible to me (since, like you noted, I was logged into Google). You might find that you also have to brand yourself as your full name instead of first and last to beat your savvy grandmother in search results!

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