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Executives Are “Ego Surfing” The Web For Business Information

How companies are surfing the web to find out what people are saying

ego surfingWondering what’s new about you? Type your name into Google or Yahoo and see what comes up. Termed “ego surfing,” it has gone mainstream as CEO’s, corporate communication departments and executives are using the Internet to follow what is being said about them, their companies and their competitors. Termed CEegO surfing when the CEO does the search, businesses are discovering important information on the web that may or may not be accurate.

A recent search of the Fortune 100 CEOs for USA Today uncovered fascinating material on top executives. While much of the information is harmless, some can be damaging to careers and business. A search for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, leads you to a 72-second video of him attempting to motivate the work force by wild gyrations and screaming on stage. Coined, “The Monkey Dance,” on the Net, there are multiple websites directing you to the “Original Monkey Boy Gyrations,” and a listing appears in the second line on Google.

There can also be a case of mistaken identity. Cynthia McKay, CEO of Le Gourmet Gift Basket, was surprised to learn that there is a British actress of the same name who has an established reputation in the porn industry. Kathy Peel, the CEO of Family Manager, found another namesake who won the Miss Plus American pageant for large sized women. Some CEO’s use their middle initial or full name to avoid confusion with others of the same name in a different industry.

Tracking exact numbers of surfers is difficult, yet according to the search engine Watch, there are 25 million to 50 million Internet searches each day using proper names. Many CEO’s either surf on a regular basis or have staff track web activity for their name through the use of a Google ad. While there is a cost involved in this, Google then e-mails reports about who is searching on that name.

Some CEO’s and businesses are also creating blogs on their websites where they can post fresh material that is quickly picked up by search engines. It makes it easier to control the top listings on the search engines by “blogging” the net with the material you want to appear.

Businesses often search on their name as this provides an easy way to discover potential problems, customer complaints or erroneous information. There then is an opportunity to challenge misinformation before it becomes widely dispersed on the web.

Here are some surfing strategies to help your career:

  • Surf on your name. Make sure that your public appearances, articles, and press releases are accurately posted. Double check any information that is mistaken and contact the Webmaster to post corrections. Clarify whether there is another person of the same name that could cause confusion.
  • Google/Yahoo your company. Are the press releases, information, and search keywords pulling up your company easily and quickly? Evaluate whether there are additional areas on the web that you want your company to appear. Make sure that there are no unauthorized links or pop-ups that have been hacked into your site.
  • Monitor hits to your website. On a weekly or monthly basis, review the hits to your website. You should be able to obtain information on entrance/exit pages, the number of unique visitors, number of page views, top pages, navigation paths and what domain names are being entered. These reports give you valuable information to make changes to your site to increase effectiveness and drive the results you are looking for.
  • Check out your competitors/colleagues. It is helpful to see how their website is linked, where their advertising is placed, and the sites that are giving them exposure. Evaluate how they are positioned and determine if some of the same strategies would be helpful for your business. What organizations are they connected with? What periodicals are giving them ink? Submit your own information to the same sources.

Surfing on a regular basis is more than just vanity; it gives you information. As playwright Thornton Wilder once said, “There’s nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head.”

About Barbara Bartlein

Barbara Bartlein is The People Pro. She presents keynotes and training and is an expert in workplace culture. Her new book, Energy Suckers-How to Deal With Bullies in the Workplace is now available. Visit her site for more information.


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