You really should do a web search on your name. You might be surprised at what you find.
They used to call it ego surfing, and maybe they still do. Sounds a little conceited, doesn’t it?
The Urban Dictionary defines ego surfing as “using a search engine to find references to oneself on the Internet.” Totally narcissistic, right? But the point of searching your name isn’t to find all the cool stuff about you online. Quite the contrary.
As a kind of test case, one of our blog team members ego-searched his name, and among other things, unearthed a letter to the editor of the local newspaper he wrote several years ago. Nothing too embarrassing, but it did surprise him to find that old letter.
It’s a reminder that what goes on the Internet is there forever.
It’s All About Me
A New Year is a chance to renew your online reputation. If you searched your name on the Internet, what do you think you would find?
You might hesitate to search your own name, but others won’t. “Let’s face it,” said Dorie Clark, a marketing strategy consultant. “Any sane employer, customer, [or] prospective date will Google you the minute they’re serious about doing business with you.”
If there’s anything negative about you, Google will find it. Anyone who reads it is going to get a specific image of you, an image they would probably never otherwise get.
You get the point. Searching the Internet for your name is not an ego-stroke; it’s a necessity.
That letter to the editor showed up on the first page of Google results. When you search anything, the first results page is by far the most important. That’s because ninety-four percent of Internet users don’t go beyond that first page. Landing on Page One is great for marketers, but could be bad for an online reputation.
If you search your name and find negative content, then what? If it’s content you created – a YouTube video of your bachelor’s party, perhaps – then you control it, and your solution is simple: delete.
If you don’t control it, your best bet is to politely request the person who does to take it down. It may be as simple as telling a Facebook friend that a picture of you on his or her account might cause you some problems.
But it might not be that simple. You may need to email the webmaster of the site where the embarrassing content is published. (Try the contact page of the site in question.) If the content is libelous, be sure to point this out, but don’t make any threats.
If it isn’t libelous – if it is merely embarrassing – you won’t have as much leverage, and your best bet may be suppression.
Suppression is most effective way to fight negative search results: creating new, positive content that ranks high in search engines, and pushes down the bad stuff.
If you don’t have any social media accounts, it’s time to get busy. They’re an excellent way to add positive results to the first page of Google. Some basic rules: use your real name as the user name and in all social media profiles. Use the same picture of yourself to each profile you fill out.
You should have active accounts on the following:
- Facebook, the Internet’s most popular social media network.
- Twitter, the SMS of the Internet.
- LinkedIn, where employers and job seekers intersect.
- Google+, Google’s social media network.
- me, so you can link multiple online sites.
Be a Blogger
Creating a blog is also an excellent tactic, and should be part of your solution, especially a blog that uses your name as the domain name. It won’t cost you a cent: you can use a site like Blogger or WordPress to create a blog for free.
The great thing about blogs is that they’re a reflection of you: your thoughts, interests, and achievements. Of course, you’ll have to supply the content, but that’s where blogs help you out the most. A new post is fresh material that can rank on Google and other search engines.
As a bonus, most Internet users consider blogs highly trusted sources of information, which will be a big boost to your online reputation.
They say that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. It is also the price of a positive online presence.
Once you’ve searched your name and begun creating new, positive content, consider the last part of the Online Reputation Management equation: monitoring. It’s essential to keep track of Internet conversations, and to find out if something new about you is posted.
There are tools that allow you to monitor your online profile:
- Trackur is a cloud-based, membership tracking service.
- Mention lets you track mentions of your name or brand.
- Google Alerts, offered by Google, sends you an email whenever it finds the results you have specified.
The Best Solution
In establishing or rebuilding an online reputation, experience counts.
InternetReputation.com is an industry leader in Online Reputation Management. Our award-winning team has the professional insight that helps you refresh your online reputation, and our Privacy Guard tool can monitor what’s being said about you. Contact a member of the InternetReputation.com team for a free consultation.