Go Google Yourself

23 Mar ’05

The recent news about Zoominfo’s search engine profile service struck me as curious – Zoominfo essentially collates online search information about individuals and companies and then allows one, for a fee, to edit that profile and search engine optimize it. The idea is to people profile, and also to “control” your google profile and how others see you.

The business model relies on two googlefacts. First, it’s well known that most googlesurfers don’t look beyond the first 10 hits – the first page. Second, googlebio searching is very popular – the WSJ has this observation today:

GETTING GOOGLED: A recent Harris Interactive Poll reported that 23% of people search the names of business associates or colleagues on the Internet before meeting them. That means more employers are probably doing the same, the Associated Press says. Career consultant Andrea Kay advises job seekers to “Google” themselves to see what comes up. If you find an item that you’d be uncomfortable with an employer seeing — a disparaging entry about you on an ex’s blog, a crass chatroom comment, or a bad photo — she recommends contacting that site’s creator and asking if you could have your name or picture removed.

Taken together, that seems like a viable proposition. But:

  • won’t people dig beneath a Zoominfo profile search result?
  • won’t this happen more the more successful Zoominfo becomes?
  • isn’t the business captive to Google’s search algorithms and vulnerable to changes in them (Google de-ranking Zoominfo profiles, for example)
  • can’t you accomplish more or less the same by search engine optimizing your own online profile?
  • how reliable is the matching of data and person and how are errors handled?
  • how do they authenticate the identity of someone who claims to be the subject of a profile and wants to correct it?
  • David Fraser has a post on Zoominfo here, and Brad Stone at Newsweek Online has some thoughts on Zoominfo’s business model here.

    Update: WaPo has a piece on Zoominfo here.

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