Do you ever do a search for your name in Google, Yahoo and other search engines? How can you control what is found?
When someone wants to know more about you, chances are they will go to Google and enter your name. What they find could determine if you get a job, a new client—or even a date! If you haven’t done a search for your name, do it right now. I’ll wait here.
So, what did you find? Ideally, your web site came up first, followed by other results from quality sites that present you in a positive light. But that might not be the case, so here is what to do next.
If you do not have a web presence, get one. Set up a web site and/or blog and start adding content to it. It may take a little time before it shows up in the search engines, but the sooner you start, the better. You should also look for ways to build your presence on other sites, by syndicating articles, creating profiles and more.
What if you found negative stuff? Maybe you found an ill-considered forum posting, some inappropriate photos on MySpace, or a nasty blog post from a rival. First, if you can control it, delete it. Take those photos down from MySpace, or kill the whole profile. They may still exist in an archive somewhere, but once removed they will drop in the search engine results.
If you do not control the page, ask the person who does to remove the item. They may or may not, but it might be worth asking. If they don’t, or to deal with the things that can not or will not be removed, the best answer is to bury them. Add new content to the web that will cause the bad stuff to drop in the results. Even your mother will not look at search result 132 for your name.
Create a positive presence on quality sites by posting articles, making positive and intelligent comments to blogs and forums, and setting up profiles and pages on high-quality sites such as Amazon.com (set up your profile by clicking on Your Amazon.com, then Your Profile), EzineArticles.com (and don’t forget to upload several great articles), Squidoo.com and others. Look for sites that allow experts to contribute content, especially sites in your field, as the content can enhance your expert reputation.
Set up profiles on video sharing sites, such as YouTube.com, and add videos. Make sure your name is in the video description. You can also upload photos to photo sharing sites such as flickr.com.
Don’t forget about social networking sites. Profiles and pages on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn often show up near the top of search results when someone’s name is searched.
Continue adding content and profiles to the web that will drive the old, icky stuff down in the search engine results, and steer searchers to content you control.