Why The Teddy Bear?

If you’ve seen my homepage, you most likely are wondering…why is my picture a giant cuddly teddy bear!?

I’m actually running an SEO experiment, and I figure the best way to do it is use myself as an example.

You see, like most people, we all have somewhat public profiles on the internet, and like you, I imagine it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable.

If someone searches my name, they can easily view my latest head shot and unflattering photos thanks to a quick Google image search:

zachKwarta_ImageSearch

The first result is from an article that started way back in 2009, when I was picked up and featured on CNN as part of their series, “Class of 2009: Who’s working, who isn’t.”

The second one is from LinkedIn.

The third one….Twitter I believe…and then it goes down hill from there.

Since this article was published there have been incredible advances with the crawling of social media. The inter-connections of everyone has made it a fun math problem for Google.

The Experiment

My goal is to make the Teddy Bear from my homepage, the first image that shows up as me on Google Image Search.

The one thing that could put a hamper on my efforts is facial detection done by Google.

I’m going to about this in a few different ways, but it shouldn’t be too challenging seeing as the “search volume” is low and the results are minimal.

Essentially, we have to let Google know, provide it some signals, that the Teddy Bear should be Zach Kwarta.

Folks, this is Search Engine Optimization at its finest :).

On-Site Signals

When Google crawls my website, it’s looking for all the details it can find. What is my site about? What things am I linking too?

To help Google out, we can do a few things to “tag” the teddy bear as my image and put it into Google’s algorithm for rankings.

Firstly, we’ll name the file, “Zach_Kwarta”.png. The file name is a good start to tell Google that hey, this isn’t Untitlted(1)2.png after all, it’s something important.

Secondly, the alt text on the page will be, “Photo of Zach Kwarta.” Alt Text is what search engines look at to describe an image. Sometimes screen readers for the handicapped will also use this text.

These two things should indicate to Google that yes, this is  a picture of me.

But, we can take it another step further!

On the homepage, we will set some behind the scenes information such as the author of the page as Zach Kwarta (me!), and submit some knowledge and author information that can be picked up by other tools and websites.

This, in conjunction with the image settings will be a one-two punch to let Google know that the Teddy bear is me.

Depending on how long it takes to rank this Teddy bear, I will move to more drastic measures.

Off-Site Signals

Should the on-site factors not be enough for Google to swap in a picture of the teddy bear, I am going to do some other changes  on other higher ranking websites, to help build a better and more accurate picture.

Firstly, I will switch all of my social media photos to this new Teddy Bear image. Consistency will be key.

Leaving Facebook alone, as that is private, the easy ones to change are profiles I don’t use such as Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. These accounts are collecting virtual dust.

Likewise I will set my homepage/personal site as Zach.Marketing, to indicate it holds a connection to the photo.

To further enhance my results, I will register additional accounts at sites like Tumblr, Yahoo, Bing, etc., all referring to me with the teddy bear image.

Eventually these rankings will actually push the current results further down the search page; ideally the teddy bear will show up multiple times.

There are a few other tricks up my sleeve that  in due time I will mention, but right now I am excited to see how long it takes until the first Bear shows up.

The Results

Come back soon! I will update this post with results, timings, and findings.

Update: 4/25/2016

After not much time, about 3 weeks, the Teddy Bear has started to move up in rankings. For absolutely no backlink reaches, this experiment is proving to be successful by simply utilizing alt-text and other on-site signals mentioned above.

 

Update: 6/12/2016
Without doing much work, the Teddy Bear continues to move up in rankings. This is great, and soon I expect to achieve top-10 results without much work – other than leaving the site alone and letting it age.

 

Update: 11/6/2016
Whelp, it’s been about 5 months since I’ve last updated this post, and my experiment seems to have been going really well, for absolutely no work on my end. The Teddy Bear image is now in 2 places (one from home page, one from blog) to show up as my name.  The top two images are from an old CNN article and LinkedIn, – so I am not sure how long it will take to outrank these.

Google Images SERP