It’s hard to keep certain things private these days, especially when sensitive content from social websites may pop up in search results. You may think you’ve removed all embarrassing content from the Web, but don’t forget that your friends and relatives can tag you in photos, status updates and check-ins. It doesn’t matter how reformed you are; if you’re ready to hit the job market and old incriminating photos of you surface — it may cost you your professional future. Luckily, there are great tools and tricks available to help you manage your online reputation. The following are steps you can take to manage your online reputation.
Step 1: Google yourself
It’s not as naughty as it sounds. Type your name into a search engine like Google or Bing (if using Google, click on the globe icon since your search will default to results relevant to your personal preferences). The results are usually ranked by relevancy and seniority. Search engines run on certain algorithms to provide the right information, including: frequency of keywords on a web page, age of the web page and amount of other sites that link directly to the page. If you find unwanted content about you, there are ways to remove or hide it.
Step 2: Remove or push down unwanted search results
There are two methods you can use:
- If you know the person who posted the unwanted material, ask them to take it down. If a website’s involved, directly contact the site’s administrator and request for it to be removed. A short and simple email explaining your reasons will usually do the trick.
- If the above is not possible, you can create new, relevant content and profiles on popular, heavy-traffic websites like Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Vimeo, Flickr, etc. While this procedure won’t remove your unwanted content, it will at least push them farther down the search results list, therefore pages away from initial view. Remember to use your real name in these profiles so the right information gets picked up by search engines.
You should also get a web domain under your real name and create a legit website for yourself (try Wix or Weebly for domain and hosting). The goal is to have the most positive and relevant information about you show up in search results, and the best way to do this is to create it yourself.
The same goes for photos — consider putting your real name on photos associated with you so they show up in image searches.
Step 3: Maintain your presence
Google provides a step-by-step process to managing your online reputation. They also have a “Me on the Web” dashboard where you can monitor your online activity between all your connected profiles. You can also establish Google Alerts to email you with real-time notifications every time your name pops up online. If you’re a Yahoo user, you’ve got a Yahoo notification system.
Managing your online reputation is a continued process. You may be far from the wild and crazy kid you once were, but it’s important to show your current credibility and maintain a professional image for your career.