Vanity Searches – Do You Use Them?

Google AlertsVanity searches is a terrible term. It’s fitting, it’s accurate (in most cases) but it just sounds so… well, vain!

I am subscribed to quite a number of  RSS feeds of Google Alerts for my name (and variations of it) , searches for my mentions of my websites and associated social media pages, feeds of Twitter searches for my name and sites and other things.

The reason I do this is to allow me keep track of an be involved in conversations I might otherwise not be a part of, such as me failing  to see a reply on Twitter or when somebody links to a post I’ve written here but their blog doesn’t send a trackback.

If I’m to be honest there’s also a fair dollop of vanity involved too – I want to know who’s talking about  me.

What tools do you use to keep track of the conversation surrounding you, your product or your sites?

The only vanity URL that matters is yours!

Forget Facebook, forget MySpace, forget Twitter

When it comes to branding yourself, when it comes to being found online, when it comes to making your mark on the internet the only URL that really matters is your own URL.

By that I mean the one that is your domain, your website or blog, your corner of the web.

Not your name on somebody else’s piece of the web, but your own place. Yours!

A sense of identity is important to all of us and the minds behind companies like Facebook know this.

They offer personalized URLs as a means to provide us with this sense of identity, with this sense of ownership, but they neglect to tell you that the sense of identity will be fleeting and that the sense of ownership is, at best, an illusion.

Companies come and go! How many social networks have risen and fallen in the past few years?

The crowd is fickle and when they move on to the next big thing, as they inevitably do, the networks die off, taking with them your content, your identity and everything you thought you owned.

As Anil Dash said in his post a few days ago, “Exclusive, the future of Facebook Usernames”:

A first wave of "It’s alive! Go get your name!" posts go up on various technology blogs, noting that the service is running a little bit slow. None of these posts mention that you can also register a real domain name that you can own, instead of just having another URL on Facebook.

If you really want to carve out your place on the web you have to secure your own domain and preferably your real name (not some made up name that you may not want, or may not fit 5 or 10 years down the road).

With your own domain you can have your own space on the web, where you are in control and you own everything. Nobody can take it away, nobody can change the rules, it’s your identity and your place.

Once you have that, run off and get your Facebook vanity URL (and again, choose one that identifies you and will still be valid in 5 years time – remember you are your brand) and use it to drive traffic to your domain and while you’re at it, aggregate your content from social networks into your domain so that you have it forever and always.

Make your mark. Claim your own territory on the web! Make it so that when your name is typed in on a search engine, it’s not some social network that comes up first, but you.

Your name, your domain, your identity. You!

Once you’ve secured “you” then it’s time to make friends!