Startup Blog

The Problem with Being Slightly Famous

Posted by Mike Volpe on 5/19/09 9:53 AM

I am friends with a guy named John Wall, who blogs and podcasts at The M Show and on Marketing Over Coffee.  John is "slightly famous", because he is known in the marketing world.  I am sure that at marketing industry events people come up to him and introduce themselves (I have experienced this sometimes because of HubSpot and HubSpot TV).  But in the real world he is completely anonymous.  However, according to Google he was the most famous John Wall since he usually ranked toward the top of search results for his name.

But, there is another "John Wall".  He is a basketball player.  I found him since he was a trending topic today on Twitter for having decided to go to University of Kentucky.

I wonder how this will affect John's personal brand and SEO.  Today I noticed a lot of news articles and videos ranking above John's blog for a search on "John Wall".  If this new John Wall goes on to the NBA, it will probably be super difficult for the first John to rank on the first page of Google for his name.

Ideas & Thoughts:

  • Make sure you have the domain that matches the online moniker you use (like I have - though even then spelling matters, there is a Mike Volpi (CEO of Joost the online video company) that sometimes people confuse with me
  • If you have a potentially common name (like John Wall) you can start using your middle name, like David Meerman Scott
  • Everyone is vulnerable to a potential personal branding issue from someone becoming famous with the same name (remember the movie Office Space and the guy named "Mike Bolton"...ouch!)
  • Publish lots of content and build lots of authority on ONE domain for your personal brand
  • John should include "John Wall" in the page title of homepage of The M Show website - he now has to optimize for this term because of a new competitor

What other ideas do you have?

Mike Volpe

Written by Mike Volpe

Mike Volpe is a startup advisor and angel investor based in Boston.

Topics: SEO, branding

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