SEO can seem like a complicated affair that the average person can’t do themselves, and a lot of high-cost personal brand consultants would love for people to believe exactly that. But BrandYourself, which officially launches to the public today, is aiming to dispel that myth and simplify the process so that individuals can control their own Google search rankings. The company is also announcing a $1.2 million Series A funding round alongside the launch.
Controlling how you appear in search is a significant first step in considering how you appear to prospective employers and anyone else who might have reason to check you out online. “If you don’t like your search results, the only thing you can really do is bury it with positive results,” BrandYourself CEO and co-founder Patrick Ambron told BetaKit in an interview. And even if you’re not trying to hide anything, he said BrandYourself still has appeal because it helps users surface their most positive results, guaranteeing they make the most of that first search impression.
“You have to pay a reputation company $5,000 a year to achieve those kinds of results, but that’s just not realistic for the average person,” Ambron said about the team’s motivation in creating the product. “Everyone should be controlling their search results, even if there’s nothing negative out there [about them]. We kind of became obsessed with giving everyone that power regardless of how wealthy or tech savvy they are.”
To achieve that goal, BrandYourself helps users help themselves. “Users simply submit the links they want showing up high, the positive stuff they like,” Ambron explained. “It could be their LinkedIn profile, personal sites, company profile, etc. We analyze that link and tell you all the things you can do to make that link appear higher.” With the basic free service provided by BrandYourself, users can submit up to three links. An example of a suggestion BrandYourself may make would be telling someone to change their custom LinkedIn URL to their full name instead of an alias.
Another key element of the platform is the BrandYourself profile, Ambron said, which is basically a web-based contact form that also helps optimize the links you add to it, which could include your LinkedIn profile, personal website, etc. BrandYourself can also tell users when and where people have Googled them from, as well as send notifications when items change ranking in search.
Those features are all included in the free product, and BrandYourself will seek to monetize by offering different levels of subscription services for a recurring monthly fee. Paid offerings will offer users the ability to check and get help with unlimited links, alongside other benefits like improved intelligence on how people are searching for you – a paid version of BrandYourself can tell you exactly what terms people searched for to find you, for example.
Ambron emphasized that BrandYourself is targeted at individual users, and will remain that way. When asked whether he might consider selling to brands, since it seemed like a plausible enough revenue opportunity, but Ambron said he wants to keep the message and the product simple. “This product helps individuals control the search results for their name,” he said. “It’s not for businesses, and the revenue stream is not advertising, we just hope some users will pay us for the services.” Ambron is wary of trying to complicate the model, lest the purpose behind the service get lost in the process. There are also companies like SEOmoz and HubSpot that are targeting SEO for small and large companies.
With online identity increasingly important, especially for job seekers, what BrandYourself is offering seems like it will resonate with users. The real challenge might be convincing average users its SEO services are necessary, but at least the price is right to help encourage them to step through the door.