Googling ourselves might seem like a fun thing to do on a rainy day, but it’s actually a smart thing to do if you’re building a brand or running a business. What will people find if someone does a Google search on your name? Will it help or hurt you?
WHY SEARCH FOR YOURSELF?
As writers, we are told we need to get a head start on our platform before we can be seriously considered by literary agents or publishers. This means we need to get going on blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and a partridge in a pear tree.
To further develop our brand, we are expected to build relationships on sites that belong to other people. We leave comments, post images, ask questions, or seek advice across a score of sites and forums.
That’s a heckuva lot of places where your name—and information associated with your name—will pop up. While those of us who are trying to build a brand want our names to shine in all their glory, especially on page one of a Google search, it also means there are just as many chances for inaccurate or unwanted information to be posted.
BEHAVE ONLINE LIKE YOUR MOMMA IS WATCHING.
Again, if we’re wanting to build a platform, we must be professional and self-respecting and post material that won’t hinder our careers or reputations. Posting about your college spring break excursions might dredge up some fun memories but won’t score points with people looking to forge work relationships with you.
We search for our names to make sure we’re representing ourselves cleanly, professionally, and respectfully. We also need to make sure that other people aren’t misusing our names, products, or services. Some sites and forums are private, but you have little control over what someone else might do with the spring break photo you shared.
This is an ongoing search, as information changes every day. Googling yourself on a regular basis can help bring you peace of mind and put you in more control of your online reputation.
HOW TO BEGIN.
Search for your name in quotes, such as “Viggo Mortensen.”
You may need to troll through several pages to find mentions if you have a common name. (Doubtful that Viggo has this problem.)
TIP: you can use your name plus descriptors like where you live, the names of your school(s), or the name of the company you work for.
Locate pictures of yourself through Google’s Image Search at images.google.com.
Run a search for your past and current email addresses and phone numbers—many online forums use these to identify people.
Search for your social media account usernames.
Set up a free Google Alert. This service sends you an email when your name, business, email address, or other information you choose, pops up online. Of course, if you have a common name, unlike Viggo, you will get alerts that have nothing to do with you. Otherwise, this practice will help you keep tabs on your name, and ultimately your reputation.
Remove info you don’t want online.
If the information is from a site you control, such as LinkedIn, then change the privacy settings on your account or just delete the post.
If the unwanted information is on a site you don’t control, you’ll need to contact them about removing the information. If the information is copyrighted, you can reference the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
To get even more in-depth information on how to Google yourself, check out this article by Online Reputation Management.
Monitoring how you’re perceived online is pretty easy to do, and something you should do on a regular basis to make sure the information associated with your name is accurate. As society becomes increasingly dependent on finding information through constantly evolving technology, everyone is at a higher risk of misrepresentation. It is up to you to take control of how information about you is managed online for the sake of your career, well-being, and reputation.
Have you Googled yourself lately? Any surprising information pop up?
Have a writerly day!!