1. Search yourself
You can use this powerful new website to see everything that is floating around online attached to your name. Below you will find a link to check your online reputation and detailed background info.
2. Buy your domain name.
This costs $12 a year to do on sites like GoDaddy. Opinions vary on how much effort, and money, you should put into this. Patrick Ambron, CEO and cofounder of BrandYourself, recommends snatching up lots of domain names—patrickambron.com, patrickambrononline.com, patrickambronblog.com.
“The more you get, the better,” he says. Personally, I think this is excessive. Better to pick one domain name and put some effort into creating content that will live on the site. You can write a short bio of yourself, a story from your life, and include your CV. This is also a place to post interesting articles and your own commentary about them.
What are people seeing when they search YOUR name?
3. Put all your content in one place.
There are a number of sites that let you do this now, including Tumblr, WordPress and About.me. You can also “apply” your domain name to these sites, which means that anyone who goes to patrickambron.com will be routed to your Tumblr page or your WordPress page.
That’s convenient because Tumblr and WordPress offer nicely designed templates where you can set up what looks like a professionally designed website without having to hire a designer.
4. Join social networks.
With a legitimate social network profile, when people search your name they will first be directed to your social profile that is the most active.
Even if you don’t feel like you have time to be active on these sites, do join them and take the time to fully fill out the profiles. As most of us know, the major sites are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. Though you don’t hear a lot of people chattering about Google+ these days, author Stradtman predicts the site will gain in power over the coming years in part because it is a Google product so Google will favor content from there in searches.
If you can make the time, also join Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube and possibly others. You don’t have to be active but don’t be completely dormant either. Add new content at least once a month. That can be as simple as attaching an article and writing a short comment about why it interests you.
5. Optimize your presence on these sites.
Do fill these sites out as fully as you can, customizing the URL when you can and repeating your name where appropriate. For instance, on LinkedIn you can scroll down to where it says “public profile” on your profile page, and edit the URL. Instead of saying something like http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=30269383&locale=en_US&trk=tyah, you can set the URL to read http://www.linkedin.com/in/susancadams.
Also be sure to use your full name and not a nickname or slogan you think is catchy. Another important trick: Most websites give you the option of linking to other social media sites. Do this. It will make your online presence stronger.
If you aren’t sure what people are seeing when they search your name across the internet, find out HERE.
6. Keep private things private, while assuming nothing is truly private.
Even my 16-year-old knows that it’s unwise to post pictures of himself chugging beer or dancing shirtless, but he also knows he can’t control the pictures other people post of him. You can, and should, put privacy setting on all content you want to share only with a select group of friends and family.
However Facebook and other sites are constantly changing the rules about how much you can protect your content, and your friends can forward embarrassing pictures of you without your consent.
All the experts say you should never post any pictures of yourself that you don’t want the world to see. What about my friend who posts frequent Facebook shots and videos of her adorable one- and four-year-olds, sometimes naked and playing in the bathtub? Stradtman says this is a bad idea because those pictures stand a chance of popping up when the boys grow up.
I find this difficult to believe, not to mention depressing. An alternative is to construct two Facebook profiles, one for outsiders that emphasizes your educational and professional accomplishments and another for your intimate circles, with the most private settings you can find. I confess I would find it difficult to manage two Facebook accounts, though I see the wisdom behind the idea.
If someone else posts a picture of you on Facebook that you find embarrassing, remove the “tag” that identifies it as you. Also don’t hesitate to ask others to take down pictures of yourself that you think could compromise your reputation.
Ambron’s partner at BrandYourself, Pete Kistler, was motivated to start the company because he had a bad personal experience. When he was having trouble landing an internship, back in 2008, he discovered that a Google search on his name produced a Pete Kistler who was a convicted drug dealer.
Unable to pay for a reputation management firm, he teamed up with Ambron and taught himself how to set up multiple websites and to create content that would drive the drug dealer Kistler down in the search results. That is the key to managing your reputation online: Create your own domain, establish a clear, fleshed-out presence on multiple social networking sites, post to each of them at least once a month and keep monitoring the web for unflattering photos or mentions. If they come up, do your best to bury them with positive content.
Find out what people can see about you, click HERE.