I'm Bobble Bardsley, Who The Hell Are You?

or, What's In A Name?

I'm Bobble Bardsley. At least, that's my Twitter username, it's how my closest friends introduce me to people, and it's how I identify myself.

Just to be absolutely clear - yes, it's Bobble Bardsley. Not Bobbie Bardsley; that would be a girl's name, obviously.

Some of my friends are male. They tend to be a bit uncomfortable about calling another man Bobble, hence there's quite a few people who would tell you my name is Bob Bardsley - and that's what I put on my CV and email signature, because it's about as professional as I can bear to be about these things.

Why am I going into all this? Well, as a freelancer my identity is my brand. I really doubt many people are searching for 'Phronesis' to find me - a lot of my work is generated by word of mouth, especially on Twitter, where I try to stick to 'Bobble' as much as possible.

If anyone is searching for my name, they'll almost certainly find some of my work, rather than this blog. It's a necessary complication, working in an industry where you often get a byline (particularly during my five years as an online news writer), that your name's gonna appear on all sorts of websites, which complicates the SEO somewhat.

Googling Bobble Bardsley

My 'real' name is Robert Bardsley - there are over 5,000 results for that one on Google, and 18 LinkedIn profiles. I'm none of them, as far as I know (well, maybe a couple of the web results, but definitely none of the LinkedIn pages).

At school I was Rob Bardsley (1,400 web pages, 10 LinkedIn profiles) and my schoolfriends still call me that when we meet up, which isn't very often.

'Bob Bardsley' began properly at university - there was another Rob in my flat in halls of residence, and I fancied a change anyway. It was also in the first year of university that I became christened as Bobble Bardsley, after some random dude I barely knew left a Post-It note on my door saying I should be called that. I have no idea why he thought so, but it turns out he was right.

Now, here's the thing. Bob Bardsley appears on roughly 8,500 web pages. Six of the top ten Google results relate specifically to me, when I search my own name, and there are 11 LinkedIn profiles, including my own (like I said, even I don't think 'Bobble' is a professional-sounding name!).

Search for 'Bobble Bardsley', and there are 1,840 results - many of which will be blog posts, Twitter-related pages or comments I've made on various different sites. As far as I can tell, nobody's used LinkedIn and called themselves Bobble Bardsley. Maybe I should be the first...

The Name Game

To cut a long story short (too late!), I've been thinking a lot about my name, and my online identity as a whole. It's important for this site to rank highly in case people are looking for me, but it's hard when other blogs have my name on every page, whereas bylines would be redundant on Phronesis.

In order to overcome this, I'm going to have to get crafty - so keep your eyes peeled for template tweaks in the next few days. They'll be subtle, I promise you that, but my name's going to appear in a few more key places on each page.

Own Your Identity

On a brief but related note, I'd love to know what anyone thinks of Google's rel="author" functionality.

Have you used it to link your content to your profile? Is it all just a ploy to get more links to Google+? Or have you seen genuine positive results from it?

Personally, I'm interested in a metadata approach to linking content with an author bio page, but visible, clickable links aren't quite so good for some of my purposes. I'm still considering whether to try and link my various sites and blogs together, but frankly, the jury's out on that one.


Harry @ Fetch Didsbury said...

I've always been of the opinion that you should choose one way to talk about both yourself and the brands (or companies) you are involved in and stick to it.

After a quick look you could easily command bobble (obviously), bob or robert. There are domains available for each and no websites commanding the phrase.

It comes down to picking one. You suggested that you don't want to use Bobble everywhere partly because it's unusual, but I would suggest that you consider using it everywhere online. Maybe not as Bobble Bardsley, but you could be Bobble Inc. Bobble Ltd or Bobble the copywriter as a brand and then bob or robert with those clients who you don't think would click with it as your day-to-day name.

Anyway, the Google Author thing. You don't have to point to a Google+ page, but a lot of people do. I do see it as a great addition to listings, showing you that someone you recognise wrote the article would suggest trust in it and I'm more likely to click on that option first even if not top.

I haven't used it yet, but I probably will start to in the next 6 months.

Personal brand is everything. Businesses come and go.

bobble said...

Thanks Harry, lots of good advice there! I do like Bobble as my name, but as people seem to call me everything from Bobble to Bobbie to Bobby to Bob, I have to find a way to make sure I'm in their results no matter what - luckily my surname's fairly unusual (assuming they spell that part right!) so that helps.

As for the Google Author thing, I'm still in two minds. All of Google's guidance eventually involves linking to a Google+ page or a Google Profile, at least if you want to get any search benefit out of including the author attribute. I'm not really active enough on Google+ for it to be a good showcase of me as a personal brand - that's what Twitter is for, in my case.

I do think you're right though, and I may take the halfway house approach of adding an author page to this blog and linking across to it from other websites that I write. It might not have the full SEO benefit, but at least there'd be an 'all roads lead to Rome' element to my various web writing.

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