Patrick Ambron is Co-founder & CEO of Brand Yourself, which helps shape online profiles for people, companies and brands. Ambron explains how people can brand themselves better online. He believes there is significant room for the online reputation management industry to grow.
Ambron is still in his mid-20′s. He explains how he got involved with this business while still in college at Syracuse University.
Visit Brand Yourself at www.brandyourself.com.
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Start of Interview with Patrick Ambron
Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Patrick and Ron to the show. He is the co-founder and CEO of Brand Yourself. And I really think you’ll like what you’re going to hear today about your Google rankings and how to improve them and how to manage your online reputation as it were. This is so important. It’s the first place anybody goes anymore nowadays and Patrick is here to talk about it with us. Patrick, welcome, how are you?
Patrick Ambron: I’m good. Thank you for having me.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic. And you’re coming to us today from The Big Apple, New York City, right?
Patrick Ambron: That’s right.
Jason Hartman: Good, good. Good stuff. Well, talk to us a little bit about the importance of one’s personal brand online and why it matters and then let’s dive in and talk about what we can do about it.
Patrick Ambron: Sure. So, plain and simple, Google is the first place we would turn to find out more about somebody else. There’s one billion names Googled every single day. If you’re looking for a job, 75% of HR departments are required to look you up online. People look everywhere, all over the web. And the point is good results help you, bad results hurt you, and it’s very, very important for you to kind of just put your best foot forward because you work so hard in real life to build a good reputation. You want to make sure that your online presence, especially your Google results, reflect that.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, certainly do. And pretty much anybody’s gonna search you nowadays whether it be an employer, a date, a client, whatever. People are gonna look and they’re gonna check you out and do a little cyber stalking and cyber research, right?
Patrick Ambron: Yeah, exactly. I mean studies will show it’s overwhelmingly so that way and growing more.
Jason Hartman: What does your company do? I mean, there are many areas of this. There are a lot of reputation management companies out there. I hear them advertised on the radio constantly. Where does your company come in?
Patrick Ambron: So our company helps you very simply improve what shows up on your first 2 pages of Google, to make sure it’s positive, that it’s relevant, accurate. The background actually was when I was in school my cofounder, Pete, couldn’t get an internship because he was being mistaken for a criminal with the same name. And back then, if you didn’t know how to do it yourself, like most people don’t, like you said, there’s a whole industry of reputation companies. But he got quoted literally I think 5 to 6 thousand dollars a month. And I knew what work went into it. And to me that was a rip-off and also just not realistic for most people. So we came into the industry very specifically to make it not for just wealthy people. We wanted to create a product that helped people do the same process themselves. So think of it as using TurboTax instead of paying an accountant, which for most people makes way more sense and that’s what we did. And our company grew from there. We’ve been able to help hundreds of thousands of people push their best stuff to the top of Google. And, since then, we’ve also even created surface level things called Brand Yourself Concierge where one of our experts will do it for you, but again still do it at a more affordable rate and at a much higher quality than our competitors.
Jason Hartman: And what is it that you do? I mean, how does this work? Let’s talk about the self-service portion of your site which I find fascinating. I went on and did it for myself and kind of scores one’s brand and it’s got some pretty neat tools, doesn’t it? I’m sure you think so.
Patrick Ambron: If I do say so myself.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, if you do say so yourself. But it’s pretty neat – it’s pretty neat service. Tell us about it.
Patrick Ambron: Yeah. I mean, again, the same concept applies is if you want to look better in Google, you need positive stuff to show up over unwanted things, even if those unwanted things happen to be irrelevant or other people with your name. They don’t have to be negative of course. But the way it works is you plug things into us that you want showing up. It could be your LinkedIn profile, a personal website, an article someone wrote about you or an article you wrote – whatever you want it to be. And our software analyzes it and shows you everything you can do that you haven’t that will make that more search engine friendly for your name and therefore show up higher. So, to give you an example, I might plug in my LinkedIn and it might say “Okay, Patrick, this ranks 40 for your name. But we found 12 things you can do. For example, hey, you’re using a nickname – you’re not even using your full name. Google doesn’t know to rank it. Change it here. Or your URL isn’t structured correctly.” So we’re walking through the process of making your stuff more search engine friendly. Again, the more content you have the better. So we recommend things that you might not have built. I would help say a website or an About.me or a social media profile, whatever it is we think will help, and you can build stuff right with us. And then what we’re doing is we’re tracking that for you. So you might get an alert that says, hey, something weird showed up on your first page. We don’t know what it is, log back in and do this. Or, hey, your LinkedIn profile just moved up or your LinkedIn profile moved down – log back in and do this to push it back up. So not only are we tracking that kind of stuff. What we can also do just to reinforce how important this is, we can even tell you who’s Googling you. So say someone finds my Brand Yourself profile – what we can tell you is sometimes we can tell you exactly who they are, sometimes we can give you clues like they work here and they Googled you from New York City – so let’s say you went on a job interview or a sales call at J. P. Morgan, you might get an alert that says someone from J. P. Morgan just found you in New York City by Googling “Patrick Ambron portfolio” or “background”. And it helps you realize, yes I am being Googled, and it’s important for me to make sure that they’re finding the stuff I want them to find.
Jason Hartman: So it does it by their IP address?
Patrick Ambron: Yeah. It does it from a mixture of things, IP address included.
Jason Hartman: Right. But in order to know that, don’t they have to Google this specific page or can they just Google your name in general?
Patrick Ambron: No, we can’t tell if they just Google you and don’t do anything. We can only tell once they hit something like your Brand Yourself profile. So they actually have to click on something. But from there – if someone Googles you, chances are they’re gonna click on one of these things, and then we can tell you.
Jason Hartman: Alright, good. Tell us more.
Patrick Ambron: And that’s generally how the product works. It just walks you through that process yourself. So, over time, you’re just improving your results and pushing those positive things over anything else.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, fantastic. And compare that to some of the other companies out there. I mean, what are the promises they make in what they do? Your site is free or you can get a premium membership for $80 a year and then I think you have a concierge service for a couple hundred a month, but it’s not 5 or 10 thousand dollars a year type of engagement.
Patrick Ambron: Right, exactly.
Jason Hartman: I mean I guess my question is is what you do just as good?
Patrick Ambron: Here’s the way the industry works. Our competitors in the industry was run by service providers, right, especially when it started becoming important to look better in Google. Most people had no idea how to do any of this stuff. And what these companies would do is say you could pay us, we’re experts, pay us a lot of money and we’ll take care of it for you. And that only worked for really wealthy people – it was cutting out a lot of people. So basically you’re paying them to do the exact process I just told you. The only thing you could do is build content, optimize it for Google and hopefully push it up. The problem with them is, number 1, it’s only for wealthy people, but, number 2, their model kind of forces them to do a poor job in the sense of to get you as a customer to give you $10,000 – it’s expensive – they have to spend a lot in advertising, they have to spend a lot on sales. So the only place they could save their cost is on the actual work. And that’s when they start outsourcing work and you get low quality content. And low quality content doesn’t work. That’s not good optimized content. And then you need more – then you gotta spend more money on them to fix that. So that’s how the industry traditionally has been run. We came in it differently and it’s been a big advantage for us is first we started at the bottom by saying, hey, here’s a product anybody can use – it’s absolutely free. There’s a paid version that’s still only $80 a year. And that helped us cast a very wide net. There’s no reason not to try us. And that made us very, very different and it allowed people to avoid spending all that money and basically we’re just showing them how to do that same exact process themselves.
But, as we grew, and we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people through that, some people do need a little extra hands on help.
They have a difficult situation, they have a specifically embarrassing result maybe or something that’s hard to get down and they don’t have the time it would take to really kind of push that down and so then we built our services. That’s similar to the original model, except the difference is because we didn’t have to spend so much money to get you as a customer, we don’t have to cut costs and we keep all of our service providers in house salaried employees. We don’t outsource it. The quality is very much controlled and we just do a much better job.
So, the crux of it, we’re more full service. Our incentive is not to just find a customer and say, hey, give us as much money as you can and we’ll do something. It’s we get them and say, you know what, you probably don’t even need this. You probably just need this $80 a year feature or you might as well use the free product and if it doesn’t work out you can always come back to us and we’ll help you with another one. Or, hey, you probably do need this service but we’re gonna do a really good job. So it just allows us to be much more comprehensive and more transparent with our customers and not just be forced to try to get as much money as possible, regardless of their situation.
Jason Hartman: What is the difference? I mean we kind of talk about this from sort of a negative side of reputation management – in other words, someone posts something negative about you or someone with your same name. I mean I know with my name there are quite a few Jason Hartmans out there – it’s not that uncommon. In fact, there’s a website you can go to that will tell you how many people have your name. And so I get confused with a couple of the other Jason Hartmans out there who spell it the exact same way by the way, but we kind of approached it from this negative way of maybe someone has the same name as you like your partner who couldn’t get his internship because there was a criminal with the same name or someone just posts something bad – ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, whatever, business associate, a competitor – I think competitors are really the worst problem of all. And you want to move that ranking down while moving positive rankings up. That’s the basic concept of reputation management. But how does it differ or is it really the same thing as SEO, search engine optimization? I mean there are many, many firms out there that claim they will get your website on the front page of Google and they make all these different claims and I find the promises to be quite different than the reality. But is there a difference or is it basically the same industry?
Patrick Ambron: It’s a very specific form of SEO. SEO traditionally that you’re talking about is a marketing thing. So say you’re a business and you’re a web designer, you have a website, you’re saying, hey, I want to show up for as many keywords that are related as possible. So I want to show up for “Web design in New York City” and “Best web design in New York City” and “New York City web designer”, right, all these terms. And what you’re trying to do is take one site and make it rank as high as possible for as many keywords as possible. Reputation management’s slightly different in the sense of we’re taking one keyword, your name, and trying to get as many different things to rank on the first page as possible. So do you kind of see the difference? And it requires a slightly different approach and it’s relatively new and it is different. Now, to answer another part of your question is oh you’re right. And we’ve been able to change the fact that reputation management doesn’t necessarily have to be a defensive thing because you had something negative show up. But before us, you did, because you’re not gonna pay $10,000 if nothing’s directly hurting you. What we’ve been able to say is some people don’t look bad in Google, they just don’t look as good as possible, right? When you Google them, you don’t find out they won Award X, you find out that they played track in high school or you find out that they have a really common name or that they used to work at this company. Like I said, good results help you just as much as bad results hurt you. They’re not putting their best foot forward either and what our product allows them to do is they’ll finally give these people a chance to kind of take control where it never would have made sense to them to work with a service provider in the past cuz it wasn’t that important. It’s not worth spending lots of money. But if you have a toolset, it’s worth playing around with and maybe even paying $80 a year if you want the premium features.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, makes sense. I don’t want to leave this conversation without just asking you a little bit about your business because it’s interesting, you talk about how you don’t outsource and you’re obviously in a very expensive place, New York City, and I know how you happen to start the business because your business partner had that issue with the internship and so you saw the need for it, but give us an idea as to your business if you will and its size, did you go out and get funding or did you self-fund the business. I just think our listeners are always kind of curious about that to get to know you a little better.
Patrick Ambron: Sure. So, as you know, Pete had the problem and I had the background and we both decided together that we had to build the product out of this. So we built the first version ourselves and got something out there – it was very, very primitive, but it had a lot of interest, and what that allowed us to do was to take it to the next level we raised some funds from DC, grew the team from about 2 of us to about 6 of us and really built a great product that came out over a year ago. And that’s when we really started thankfully taking off. And since then we’ve grown – that was the only round we’ve ever needed. It was just for us to kind of like invest a little bit more in product. And now we’re a team of 15. We’re growing every single month and the reason why we don’t need to outsource things is, again, the biggest burden of those companies is a cost for acquisition. They cost him so much you got a customer, but our product is our acquisition. It comes to us naturally and that allows us to put a lot more money into say quality and employees and workers than it does on just advertising to get the customer.
Jason Hartman: Right, right. Yeah, that’s a good model. How many employees do you have?
Patrick Ambron: We’re 15 now and growing.
Jason Hartman: Okay, great. Good stuff. And what do you think of the future of your industry? It’s probably gonna be around for a long time, isn’t it?
Patrick Ambron: Yeah. I think everybody’s gonna need to do this, but I think the key is the winners of the industry, and this is how we try to position ourselves, are people who provide people with different products and services that fit their needs that are transparent, they don’t try to rip people off, they don’t try to sell something the person doesn’t need and giving people these types of options and educating them. I mean, really, that’s how I believe it’s gonna be. People are gonna have to do this themselves. It’s not sustainable for people to think they’re just gonna keep paying someone every single month to do this for them, and that’s what we’ve gotta be.
Jason Hartman: I guess the last question for you is we talked a lot about Google and optimizing one’s results on Google – well, maybe this is two questions. The first part of this is, besides Google, I mean does Bing have that much of an impact? Or is it really Google owns the world in terms of search?
Patrick Ambron: Obviously, Google’s the biggest. Of course you should be concerned with the other search engines. That’s another place someone can look for you. When we say Google when we’re talking about search engine optimization, it’s almost a marketing term. You’re helping your search rankings in most of them if not all of them. So, yeah, I mean these tactics help across all search engines. So, yes, Google is by far the biggest, but yeah, I mean you should of course be concerned with those other search engines, and thankfully the tactics we promote kind of optimize across. In fact, one of our main investors was the lead architect to Bing and really developing search technology. So I mean we have a good relationship with them.
Jason Hartman: And in terms of Google, Google’s changing their algorithms all the time and they’re trying to limit the way that people can sort of game the system if you will or optimize for Google – you talk about optimizing for Google – but Google doesn’t like it when you optimize for them, right? They just want it to be…At least my perception is really quality search where you can’t trick their search engine. How do you do that? I mean, it’s just always changing, isn’t it? Didn’t they recently just come out with a new release?
Patrick Ambron: Yeah. I mean all their newest updates help companies like ours, because, like you said, Google doesn’t like to be tricked, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like things to be optimized. In fact, they do – SEO, they like SEO. They put on literally papers out, they put on conferences which is very dense and jargony, they want to make sure because there’s so many times where, you know, so many people have a website that’s really relevant but Google can’t find it because it’s in flash or something like that. So Google wants you to optimize your website. What they don’t want you doing is black hat techniques which is building content that isn’t really valuable for a searcher but is meant to trick the search engine into ranking it. And that’s, again, an example of that would be creating a bunch of crappy profiles, blowing your name all over it, and putting it out hoping it ranks. Then a person searching for you, the profile does nothing for them because there’s not much on it. You’re right, there’s no shortcut. It’s all about building high quality content and that’s what our service helps you do and makes sure search engines can find it and they can rank it and, again, that’s exactly right and they don’t like being tricked but they do like being optimized.
Jason Hartman: Good stuff. Well, this has been very informative. Patrick Ambron, thank you for joining us today. The site is BrandYourself.com. Appreciate the insights.
Patrick Ambron: Thanks for having me.
Narrator: This show is produced by The Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.HartmanMedia.com or email [email protected] Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network, Inc. exclusively. (Image: Flickr | krossbow)
Transcribed by Ralph
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