I thought I’d take the opportunity to expand on the topic for our readers. Here, then is my list of ways you can manage your reputation on Google.
12 Ways To Manage Your Reputation On Google
1) Google (And Bing) Yourself
The first step in managing your reputation is to find out what’s out there about you by Googling yourself. Keep in mind that Google creates custom search results based on what it knows about you and your past online behavior, so no one gets the same set of search results.
If you keep searching for yourself while you are logged into your Gmail account, it is likely that Google will push information about you higher in the search results. In order to get a better sense of what others see when they search for your name, you can use the Hide Private Results feature in the settings of Google search:
Or you can log out of your Gmail account entirely or to get the most unbiased view, you can use your browser’s anonymous browsing feature. On Chrome, it’s called the Incognito Window; on Safari, it’s called a Private Window as it is on Firefox:
2) Dot-Com Yourself
Buy a domain that includes your name.I have DavidErickson.com, for example.
If you have a common name, you might have to include your middle initial or name or you might have to settle for something other than a .com Top Level Domain.
Once you’ve dot-commed yourself, you can publish a simple resume site that includes a brief biography and perhaps some work history. Be careful not to include your street address. If you don’t want to list your phone number or email address, you could include a contact form as well.
You will also want to include links to your LinkedIn profile and other social accounts you wouldn’t mind strangers seeing. This will both help people connect to you as well as indicate to Google that your social profiles are related to your site.
This tactic is not for everyone but it is a superb way to take control of your online profile in the search engines. Google likes fresh content, so if you start a blog and post regularly, the search engines will take notice.
Ideally, you’ll want to publish your blog on the domain name you’ve just bought yourself, so Google and Bing associate the content you publish directly with your name.
If you’re starting a new blog, it will take some time for the search engines to start listing your content but keep at it.
Not only will your blog posts add positive content about you to the search results, it will reflect well with those who want to get to know you…be they potential dates or potential employers. Your blog posts will provide fodder for small talk as well as give insight into your personality.
4) Optimize Photos
While search engines are improving at understanding the contents of photos all the time, it doesn’t hurt to help them along. Include a photo of yourself on your website and change the file name of the photo to include your name, e.g. david-erickson.jpg. Also include your name in the caption of the photo.
If you are a photographer, use Flickr to share your photography publicly. By opening up a Flickr account under your real name, Google and Bing will associate the photos you upload publicly there with your name, which will help them gain visibility in search results.
5) Optimize LinkedIn
There are two things most employers will do when considering candidates: 1) Google their name and 2) look for them on LinkedIn. LinkedIn profiles are often among the top results for individual name searches.
In order to help Google better recognize your LinkedIn profile, you’ll want to claim your custom URL, rather than the random, number-infested URL LinkedIn gives you by default.
Log into your LinkedIn account and go to your profile. From there, click on the “Edit your public profile” link, and from there you’ll be able to edit your public profile URL. You might need to try a few times until you find one that isn’t already taken. I had to include my middle initial to get linkedin.com/in/davideerickson.
6) Review Privacy Settings
Each of the major social media sites have privacy setting that you can control to one degree or another. Be sure to review those setting to ensure you are not inadvertently sharing content you do not want to share.
Or, conversely, you are inadvertently hiding content you want to be public.
7) Use Twitter
While you can make your Twitter account private, it kind of defeats the purpose. Because it is largely a public platform, Twitter is an excellent way to bloster your presence in the search engines.
Include your name on your Twitter profile and fill out your bio. Link to your website/blog or your LinkedIn profile.
In addition to getting your Twitter profile to show up in search results, your individual tweets have a chance of showing up in Google as well because the search engine has a deal with Twitter to gain access to all of Twitter’s data.
8) Maintain Active Social Media Accounts
If you want your social accounts to be included in Google search results, you need to stay active within them. The easiest way to do that is to post at least daily status updates.
You can use a tool like Hootsuite to manage your social accounts all in one place and to post status updates to Twitter and LinkedIn simultaneously. I do this to share links to articles I’ve read and schedule them throughout the day.
9) Be Discreet
Be thoughtful about what you share publicly and what you share privately. Keep in mind that though social sites have privacy tools, it’s not like no one has ever been hacked before. Ultimately, the best advice is to not share anything you wouldn’t want posted to the home page of the New York Times.
10) Be Nice
I know you’re nice. I’m not saying that. But we all have moments of frustration where we lose our cool or have a momentary lapse of reason. Keep in mind that there are cameras everywhere these days and even if you think your behavior is private, it probably isn’t.
11) Don’t Get Into Trouble
Don’t get into the kind of trouble that will get you in the news or get you in court. News coverage will always get top billing in search results but the good news is that while it make take some time for the negative stories to fade from the search results, fade they often will.
Court documents, on the other hand, are forever. If you are involved in court proceedings and documents from those proceedings end up on an official governmental website, those documents are going to stay in the search results.
12) If You Do, Offer Your Side
If either scenario in number 11 happen to you, your best defense is to provide your side of the story. This is where having an active blog is especially beneficial.
If you’ve frequently updated your blog and cultivated a following on your social channels, you already have a sympathetic audience who may be willing to if not rush to your defense, at least hear you out.
Offering your side of the story should be done only after thinking through the ramifications and ideally, turning to professionals for consultation.
Finally, you should be consistently monitoring the search results for mentions of your name.
Set up Google Alerts for variations of your name. I have them set up for “David Erickson” as well as “Dave Erickson.” Then you’ll get regular emails whenever new content containing your name is indexed by Google.
This can be awfully amusing, or morbid, depending upon your temperament.
I have, for example, received notifications about many ways in which someone with my name has died. Sometimes I’ve lived a long, fulfilling life capped off with a nice obit; other times, I’ve met premature and tragic ends. It’s like my own personalized Six Feet Under trailer.
On the other hand, I also have lived vicariously through other David Ericksons’ lives:
- There’s the Dave Erickson who produces Fear The Walking Dead;
- There’s the minor league pitcher named David Erickson;
- There’s the Free Conference Call guy;
- There’s the Cornell professor; and
- The soccer player.
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