From the August 2007 issue of Entrepreneur

Personal-branding guru William Arruda says that in today's increasingly web-oriented business world, if you don't show up in a Google search of your name, you don't exist. Arruda and co-author Kirsten Dixson discuss how to build your personal brand online--and why it's crucial that you do so--in their new book, Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand.

Entrepreneur: What can business owners do if they don't "Google" well?
William Arruda: The first thing is [to buy] your domain name because if the thing you're searching for is the same as a domain name, it shows up [first]. Buy your kids' domain names right away--in the future, that's how we'll find people and communicate.

Entrepreneur: What else can entrepreneurs do to take control of their digital brand?
Arruda: Comment on other people's blogs. If you're articulate, do an audio blog. Blogs are ranked highly because search engines love sites that are updated a lot. Another thing [to do] is go to amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com and review books [relevant to your industry]. Include your name, and those become part of your online identity. Take control of your profile on ZoomInfo--it compiles what's already out there, but you can update it. Or make your LinkedIn profile public. It's great because it ranks very high and you get to communicate what you want.

Entrepreneur: Why focus on building your personal brand online? Isn't the business's brand more important?
Arruda: Let's say you want to hire people. [They] will decide whether they want to work for you or the business down the street based on what they learn [online]. People are going to Google you--employees, customers, venture capitalists if you're looking for money.

Entrepreneur: What if there's something negative about you online?
Arruda: When you have digital dirt, you can vacuum it up if you have control over it or ask the people [who control it] to remove it. Or you can sweep it under the rug by making more appropriate things rank higher, so the digital dirt is on page 37 [of the search results] instead of page one.