It’s no secret that I am a Google fan boy but I’m not signing on to a Google Profile. The main reason is that I don’t want Google to compete with other top search results for my name. For this same reason, I’ve disabled Facebook public search visibility. I want my blog, LinkedIn profile, Twitter, and other sites to continue to be my top results.
I have a unique advantage in that I don’t have a common last name. Right now, for example, there are no “Profile results” when someone searches on my name. For common or popular names like “John Smith,” this feature becomes a game changer.
A secondary reason I would counsel others to be careful with a Google profile relates to the “vanity” URL. Danny Sullivan explains:
Oh joy. If you have a Gmail account, and you claim your vanity URL,then you expose you email address to the world. Google explicitly warns you that this can happen, but it’s still pretty sucky. Why not operate the way that Google’s YouTube does or Yahoo’s Flickr, where you can have a username that is different than your email address?
But wait! Life certainly isn’t so simple at Google. I actually have at least two active Google accounts, one of which isn’t linked to Gmail at all. I think I got that one by signing up for AdWords or some other service before Gmail existed. I’m also far from the only person in this
situation, given I’ve seen ample Google help pages over time on how to transfer a particular service between different Google accounts.
I think this later point is actually going to come back to bite Google in the search engine. Ever scour the web seeking an email address of someone who doesn’t have one listed? Well, if they have a vanity URL, a Google Profile gives you insight into how you can reach that person,. Just take the vanity URL and try adding “@gmail.com” to it. Jackpot. You now have a decent chance of discovering a previously unknowable email address.
As is stated in Sullivan’s article, you don’t have to use a Gmail account. Any Google Account will do. It just becomes a pain linking up your Google services. In my opinion that effort is worth it, in order to not expose an email address on the World Wild Web.
My abstaining does not downplay the importance of this move for Google, who has effectively just built a people search competitor to Facebook, MySpace, and the gang, or to individuals that want an easy way to be found on the Web’s most popular search engine. It’s a big, bold play for Google…just one that I am passing on…for now.