You Do Google Your Institution, right?

We web folks are tasked with keeping track of our institution’s presence on many, many platforms across the web.

News alerts, blog mentions, press mentions, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Ping*, Diaspora, and so on and so on.

I was reminded today that there’s one place I often forget to check.


Yes, good ol’ Google. It’s the biggest referrer of traffic to our site. It knows and see all.

Funny story…

We’ve started a carpool at work. On our way in today, someone saw an alumni sticker on the car next to us for Alabama A&M. I hadn’t heard of the school, and wasn’t sure what the A&M stands for.

So, being stuck in traffic, I quickly Googled them on my iPhone.

Here’s what I saw:


That’s not good. I doubt that, in addition to a degree, you can get Xanax without a prescription there.

Something strange is happening, because their page does have valid META tags.

<meta name="description" content="Welcome to Alabama A&amp;M University, located near Huntsville, Alabama."> 

I think it’s time for their IT and web staff to dig around and see what’s going on, then resubmit the site to Google.

The moral of the story here is make sure that in your daily Googling, you make sure to check out your institution’s page.

By the way, the A&M stands for agriculture and mechanical.

* – not yet, but still 🙂

9 thoughts on “You Do Google Your Institution, right?”

  1. I vanity search my U on Google realtime/latest throughout the day (plus get Google alerts in my email). Also searching facebook for mentions is a great way to find things that are currently pissing students off (what’s working, what’s broken). Egosurfing FTW!

    Sidenote: Don’t neglect your U’s map on Google either, lots of googlebot mistakes out there that can be corrected.

  2. Mike, nice blog. It is always a great idea to search your own name on Google and other sites. I like setting up Google Reader to have my vanity searches come directly to me in real time.

    When searching it is always a good idea to not only search the University’s name, but also nickname, acronyms, mascots, President’s name, and any other recognizable people or places associated with the university.

    I wrote a similar blog on this that lists some additional tools for listening in on your brand. You can find it hear –

  3. Plus, you may notice that shortly after the blog in my comment was posted, a representative from one of the websites mentioned in the blog left a comment thanking me for mentioning their name. Vanity search in action.

  4. Like Travis, I’ve got several searches that create RSS feeds. I don’t have to Google myself manually; I’ve got Google Googling me regularly (oh, that sounds so dirty!).

    Additionally, I’m also working on some research looking at U.S. college and university Wikipedia articles and I think that you should be regularly looking at them, too. I haven’t quite gotten a handle on just how influential these articles are but there are a lot of them and they’re ranked very high in search results (preliminary research here: I’m definitely NOT advocating that you should begin trying to control your institution’s Wikipedia articles but I think that you know what others think is important and interesting about your institution.

  5. Kevin’s point about updating your Wikipedia entry is an important one. Those rank high in both Google results and in the stupid auto-generated Facebook community pages.

    Like others I have Google Alerts set to give me results on variations on our campus name and other keywords. I have a Twitter Search set up as an RSS into Google Reader, which is where all my Alerts go so I can scan them quickly as a batch.

    Another spot to watch: I don’t know how much Sidewiki ever took off, but I set up an Alert in case anyone ever uses that to slap a little editorializing on top of our pages. It’s visible only to others with Sidewiki installed but I figured it was worth it to set up the Alert just in case. Nothing so far. (


  6. Oh, one more thing–

    Because Google is so awesome at customizing search results for YOU, you need to look at results others will see, not your results. Otherwise you’ll think you’re doing a wonderful job of search engine optimization because all your own pages come up high in the results, when that’s just because you’ve clicked on them a lot in the past.

    If you’re running the search straight from your desktop (or any other computer where you’ve synced browser histories the way I have between my personal laptop and my work computer), you need to log out of all your Google accounts, get out of the history-tracking search mode, and run an Incognito search.

    This gives you more “pure” results.


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