Tara West

Managing Your Reputation as an Individual Online

2nd Mar 2012 Brand, Reputation Management 7 minutes to read

Google SearchYou’re bored one day. You’re browsing the web aimlessly trying to think of something to do. You decide to Google your name….

You might be surprised at just how much information is indexed on Google for your name. There’s a good chance that you put some of this information online yourself, but there is also a good chance that some of it doesn’t even relate to you and is for someone else with the same name. You might even find that actually there is nothing related to you at all on Google when searching for your name and the results page is taken up by information about others with the same name.

This post will tell you some of the best ways you can manage your online presence to try to ensure that when someone Google’s your name they find the best information about you.

You might be wondering why this even matters. Well, even if you’re not in the Search marketing Industry (where it’s always ideal to rank for your name!),  you never know when someone might be Googleing you. It might be a potential employer or even a potential date. Either way it’s always a good idea to be in control of what the world can find out about you.

Making sure some things aren’t found online

My number one piece of advice has to be that if you truly do not want certain information to be found online, don’t share it online. It’s really that simple.

No matter how well you think you know your security settings on the various social networking sites, there is usually always some way that the information can be accessed by someone else. For example when you connect apps to your Facebook account, it usually means that these apps (and the people behind them) can access your information (no matter what your privacy settings are). Remember that anyone can create an app, so anyone can access that information if you choose to connect your social accounts and external apps.

That is a bit of an extreme example, but it proves that if you truly don’t want something to be found online the best thing you can do is make sure you don’t put it there in the first place.

Second to this piece of advice, it is also a very good idea to ensure that you are familiar with the privacy settings of any social networking sites you use.

Making sure there are positive things to be found about you online

Having no online presence can be just as harmful as having a bad online presence in some cases, especially if you work in the digital industries.

There are profiles you can create that will ensure that when people search for your name they are more likely to find information that relates to you. Naturally this is more difficult if you have a very popular name or if there is a celebrity or public figure who shares your name, but it is still worth trying to have some information about yourself online so that you can use it to your advantage to network.

When you create these profiles make sure you write compelling information about yourself and your achievements that paint you in a good light and encourage anyone who finds it to get in touch with you. Make sure you use a correct and active email address on every profile that can be seen by the public so that anyone can contact you if they want to.

There is no real danger in having a public email address as you can always delete the email account and set up a new one if you receive spam contacts. Be careful not to provide other personal information along with your email address (for example your date of birth or mother’s maiden name) as it is the combination of all of this kind of information along with your email address that can be negative.

If you want these profiles to appear in search results when your name is Googled, make sure that all of these profiles are fully accessible to the public and not restricted by privacy settings unless you specifically want them to be.

Make sure that all of these profiles are set up using the name that people are most likely to use if they search for you on Google. For example if your CV says your name is Elizabeth Heraldford don’t set up these profiles with the name Lizzie Heraldford. Pick one version of your name and work to manage this.

Add as much information as you can (and that you are comfortable with being found) to these profiles. So for example add a picture to all profiles where possible, as this can also help your picture to show up in image search results which are often combined with normal search results. Save the file name of the picture you would like to add to these profiles as your name before you upload them to the profiles as this can help them rank for your name.

Make sure that the descriptions used in these profiles are tweaked slightly for each profile so that they are all slightly unique in their content. It’s fine to have the same contact information but don’t have the same bio or same status updates on all of these platforms.

Remember that it is not enough to simply set up these profiles, if you want them to perform well and be found in Google’s search results you will probably also need to keep them updated regularly.

Online Platforms to Create:

  • Create your own website. You can be as advanced as you like with this, for example by buying your own domain (www.yourname.com) or by simply starting a blog on WordPress or Blogger. Create lots of pages on your site or blog with information about your achievements and qualifications. The more pages your site contains about you, the more opportunities it has to appear in search results for your name.
  • Facebook profile.
  • Create a Facebook page for yourself. Although you might not consider yourself a local business, public figure, company or product, this is an excellent way of creating another online platform which can appear in search results for your name. You do not have to share this profile with your friends on your actual personal facebook page if you don’t want to so it’s really only there to be found in search results.
  • A Google Plus profile is definitely worth having and has a lot of strength in terms of ranking on Google UK Once you’ve created a personal Google Plus profile.
  • A Google Plus page (in a similar way that you created a Facebook Business page). If you have your own website don’t forget to varify your Google Plus profile by adding the Google+ button and verification code to your site and making sure your profile links to your website. Doing this will help your profile (author picture) appear in Google search results alongside results which are related to you.
  • A LinkedIn profile is a great way to create a strong online presence, especially for the purpose of being found online in relation to your career.
  • Twitter profiles show up well in search results if you use them often and build up your followers.
  • About Me pages are really easy to create and look professional.
  • Quora profiles tend to show up in search results so is a property worth creating.
  • If you are involved with any fundraising events, often profiles on charity related sites rank very well so it is worth creating them if you are involved in a fundraising events.
  • Get a Klout profile and link your other online profiles to it. Linking your profiles gives them strength in ranking for your name.
  • Get a MySpace profile. Although My Space is declining in popularity it is still a social platform that can help you manage your online presence.

Profiles to create Image or Video Results:

If you often see image reults when you search for your name on Google you should try setting up profiles on Flickr and other image sharing sites such as Pinterest as these can help increase the likelihood of images related to you showing up in search results when people search for your name.

You could get a Vimeo profile, and a YouTube profile. Although individually these profiles don’t always show up on their own they all help to create a combined presence.

If you work in the search or digital industries an SEOMoz profile and Ecosultancy profile are valuable properties to have

How do I get rid of things about me online?

If you put the information online (for example if it’s contained in social profiles like Facebook), then you can remove this information from your profiles or delete the profiles and the next time Google crawls the pages it should be dropped from the index or have the Meta description updated so it no longer contains the information.

If the information is on another website that you have no control over, you need to try to contact the website owner to ask them to remove it.

If this doesn’t work, you can always try to push this information out of the search results page by creating lots of new positive content about yourself in the ways mentioned above.

These are just a few basic ideas, feel free to add some more ideas for profiles in the comments section below.

Image Source

Google screen via BigStock

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