You have been hired to do your dream job.
You are warmly welcomed by your new colleagues.
They show you your workspace where you find the new starter’s kit – a mug, a notepad, a pen and even a t-shirt in your size, complete with brand logos.
Is this a long-awaited fresh new start?
I guess so!
Are you excited?
Sure you are!
Now think about what could have led you to this place.
While some might think this is a result of the favorable placement of the sun (i.e. their horoscope), I tend to believe it’s your past that has led you to this point.
And in this case, the parts of your past that are available for all to see online.
In this blog post you’ll find 15 tips that will help you build your online reputation – allowing you to stand out from the crowd.
1. Do Some Ego-Surfing
“Egosurfing is a concept describing the activity of searching for mentions of oneself across search engines and social networks.”
Do a search across different search engines to find out where your name is mentioned. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Go to Google
2. Search for your name by entering different variants of the name: “name last_name”, “name middle_name last_name”, “nickname name last_name”
3. Search for your email, phone number and address
Do these checks for your abbreviated name, maiden name or even your name + city combination in which you live.
This might even take you down memory lane to your school days (in a tagged photo gallery of your class, for example).
Try doing exact phrase searches, by putting exact words in quotes: “name”.
Do a similar search across other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing.
Then, ask yourself the following questions:
• What do you see when you enter your name into the search engine?
• Do you like what you see?
• Would others (i.e. potential employers) like what they see?
• What do these results reveal about you as a person, and as a professional in your field?
• Are there any results that don’t represent you well, or even damage your reputation? How can you control these results?
• How can you control the first page on a Google search?
That’s a lot of questions!
Answers to those questions are provided in this guide.
So, you’ve “ego-surfed”, and identified online mentions of your name.
You now have a better understanding of what you like (things you’d be happy for your grandma to see), and what you would like to remove from search results (you completely forgot you used your real name on your Reddit account, didn’t you?).
There will be some sources of information that you don’t have control over, but there might be ways to remove those.
Having control over your online presence can help you react to things in a timely manner. That is why regularly monitoring it is very important, and can prevent any negative information from spreading further.
2. Monitor Your Online Reputation
You can be alerted to when your name is mentioned online by using Google’s feature: ‘Stay in the loop’. It takes you directly to Google Alerts and allows you to create name alerts, and get email notifications, every time your name is mentioned online.
How do you create a Google alert for your name?
- Go to Google Alerts
- Enter the search phrases that you want to monitor:
- Name, last name, nickname
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Any other relevant information that you want to track
- Select alert options:
- Frequency – As it happens, At most once a day, At most once a week
- Sources – Automatic, News, Blogs, Web, Video, Books, Discussions, Finance
- Language – Specific Language, Any Language
- Region – Specific Region, Any Region
- Quantity – Only the best results, All results
- Email to which alerts should be sent
- Get email notifications
Based on the selected alert frequency, you should regularly check your inbox for new alerts.
3.Social Networks Check
While social networks are great to re-connect with your old friends, and to communicate with your current ones, it’s also a goldmine for identity theft.
That means people pretending to be you. They could be tarnishing your name, which doesn’t look good to employers.
You should do a manual check-up on this, by entering your name into the main social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, etc.
If you have a nickname that you are recognized by, do a check for it as well.
You might, of course, find people with the same name as yours, which you can simply ignore and skip.
What you don’t want to find are clearly fake profiles using your personal data or even your photos.
SocialMention is a great website that not only provides a list of sources where your name can be found, but also gives statistics on sentiment, mention strength, passion and reach.
That is if you want to do more in-depth research.
4. Video Hosting Websites Check
There might also be videos of you, or with your name tagged in, floating around the internet. Therefore, it is a good idea to check out YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion and other well-known video hosting platforms.
5. Image Search
Did you know that you can discover the sources of an image by using Google Image Search?
Enter your name, click icon and upload your commonly used profile photo.
Google performs a check of indexed images and returns the same or visually similar images.
Scan the results page in order to spot any unusual or suspicious sources where your image is being hosted.
It goes without saying that, having noticed any unusual, suspicious or harmful mentions of your name or profile pictures across the internet, it is necessary to take action and try to remove it.
In cases when your personal data, such as national insurance number, or any other important data is leaked, or when you see signs of identity theft or identity fraud, I recommend contacting the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre and reporting the issue.
Because the information that appears on Google is not hosted by Google itself, any changes or removals you want to make should be raised with the owners of the individual websites.
Once the information is taken out from the domain, search engines stops indexing it and therefore don’t return it as a search result.
Removal of information is a broad topic that should really have its own blog post, so I am not going to go into more detail now.
Now that we’ve covered 5 ways of finding yourself online, we can get to the fun part of online reputation management – 10 ways of dominating your search results page, with results that you control.
Let’s discuss how you could be proactive in building your own reputation online.
As Google is the most popular search engine in the UK, I’ve concentrated on this search engine as opposed to the others.
No one really looks at the second page of a Google search results page.
Therefore, as Google search results pages consist of 10 results, I’ve compiled a list of 10 ways to dominate the first page.
The best way of doing this is by starting with pages you have control over.
This way, you will be able to communicate your message about yourself to the world and introduce yourself as an individual.
1. Google+ Account
If you use Gmail or YouTube, you will most likely have Google+ account already.
Make sure it is up to date and contains information that represents you well.
Having a headshot profile picture, and complete “story” section will increase your chances of being found online.
2. Youtube Profile
Check to see what your YouTube profile looks like.
What videos do you ‘Like’? What videos have you posted? What playlists have you created?
This tells someone a lot about you.
You can even take it to the next level and use YouTube to host your Video Resume. By using the right keywords and placing the video in the right category, you can expect more impressions and clicks.
3. Facebook Profile
Facebook prevents search engine robots from indexing their user photos, which means that you are pretty much safe from your photos appearing on Google search results.
However, you should also make sure your Facebook profile is private and cannot be accessed by strangers.
Furthermore, did you know that 60% of employers use social media to screen job candidates? Make sure you are ready for this.
This reminds me of a story that happened back in 2009…
A guy created an AdWords campaign to get his dream job in creative advertising. Knowing that ‘everybody Googles themselves’, he created ads targeting the names of the five creative directors he most admired. The ad text was simple:
“Hey, [creative director’s name]:
Goooogling [sic] yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too”
The campaign cost him $6 and he got 4 interviews and 2 job offers.
You are probably not going to repeat this, but that just shows that Googling yourself (ego-surfing) can be a useful and worthwhile activity, not just something that’s done as part of the online reputation management process.
4. LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is definitely one of the best places to have a professional profile.
In order for your profile to be visible to search engines, you must have at least one connection
5. Twitter Account
Consider using this particular social network to spread your ideas and follow certain influencers.
Don’t forget to be active across all social channels, as this is one of the key aspects of ensuring a good position on search engines.
6. Your Own Website/Portfolio/Blog/Vlog
Having a dedicated website or portfolio is the ideal way of reaching out to the world and telling people who you really are.
Depending on the purpose, you can provide your career and educational highlights, list your hobbies, talk about your volunteering experiences, or provide some details about your personal life.
Are you good at auto mechanics? Why not to share that knowledge with the public, by writing blog about it or, by creating short video tutorials?
Are you collecting anything? Share your passion, get noticed and get mentioned across the internet.
Anything that makes you look cool in the eyes of the person who might be searching for you works fine.
7. Information Sharing Websites
Slide presentations are a great way to show your dedicated to your profession, and that you know what you’re talking about.
You can even participate in Quora community by sharing your expertise in some particular field, and answering community member questions.
8. High Authority Domains
There are many websites that rank well on Google and therefore are a perfect medium to leverage your name to the world.
Some of the examples include Goodreads (everyone will know your favorite books), Geni or Ancestry (your family tree), Soundcloud or Spotify (your music preferences), BoredPanda or Reddit (your crazy creative ideas that can go viral).
Create profiles there, carefully fill in your information, and tell the world more about yourself.
What’s great about having your profile on these websites is that they appear high on the search results pages and you have control over them.
9. News websites
Getting mentioned in the news websites might be tricky, but you can try this if you need some exposure at a local or national level.
Although some might think that there is no such thing as bad publicity, I don’t agree. So try to avoid having a police mugshot posted online.
Take a moment to think how you could get mentioned online in a positive light.
Do you work for a company that does volunteering? Then you could share your experience with the local newspaper. Perhaps you have a talent in photography and you can send your photo into an online photo contest? Once you win it – your name will be in the title of the news article.
Maybe you’re not really involved in online and digital things? Are you more into handcrafts such as sewing or carving? Invite local newspapers to document your crafts. There’s a chance they might be interested, and publish an article about you in their ‘Lifestyle’ or ‘Culture’ column.
10. Become a publisher
The digital age has given us all the opportunity to share ideas and perspectives with the world. Everyone has a story to tell, whether it is simply sharing professional ideas, or more personal experiences. You can share your story by submitting it to publishers like Medium.
It’s easy to hide behind a nickname, but if you really want to make a difference and change your online reputation for the better, consider sharing your thoughts with people using your real name.
While this might sound like an opportunity more relevant to writers, anyone can sign up to these types of websites and publish a story.
Alternatively, you can use other platforms to share your thoughts, just like Becky did by sharing the details about her work experience at Latitude (although if I were Becky, I would’ve loved to see my full name on this blog, and as an SEO person, I would love to have a backlink to my personal portfolio or website J ).
You head back home after your first day at the new job.
You are thinking of how you got to this position.
Has your online reputation and online presence helped you get there, or was it because of the favorable placement of the sun on a particular day?
Not there yet?
Well, we might be able to help.
We’re currently recruiting for a position right here at Latitude, in our SEO department.
You will find the details of this (rather amazing) opportunity here.