By Qiana Chavaia, Time Magazine
Searching for another person’s online profile is common practice these days. Employers routinely use search engines to screen potential candidates. We even Google ourselves. It’s totally expected and normal!
Knowing that bits and pieces of information about your identity are floating around cyberspace should compel you to ensure your online reputation is in tip-top shape. And it’s easy with these reputation management tools.
1. Get YourName.com
The number one way to control your search results is by purchasing your own domain name. If you have a name that is unique (like mine), this will be cut and dry. For people with more common names, you’ll have to be a bit more creative. If the name Kim Smith is taken, incorporate your professional title. For example, Kim Smith, MBA could try www.kimsmithmba.com or www.kimsmith-mba.com.
2. Get on LinkedIn
Adding your profile to popular social media sites is a surefire way to ensure the real you (that you wish to portray) shows up at the top of search results. LinkedIn is the largest social networking platform, with over 347 million users, and has great SEO power.
Creating a profile provides the unique advantage of getting your very own, customizable vanity URL. For example, if your name is Jane Smith, your personal LinkedIn page would look something like www.linkedin.com/en/janesmith. Because the LinkedIn network spans more than 200 countries worldwide, the letters preceding your name will represent your country’s code.
3. Get on Google+
If you don’t already have a Google account, it’s time you get one to start taking advantage of the super searchable features of Google+. It allows you to “share and [be] discover[ed], all across Google.” In many ways, it combines the features of popular social media networks. Users can create circles, add updates, and share posts and photos similar to Twitter and Facebook. And when someone searches for your name, your Google+ profile will be one on the first results to appear in search.
4. Setup Google Alerts
The Google Alerts tool allow you to monitor content on the web by inputting the search terms you want to track. Input your name to detect any new information that appears about you. You’ll be notified via e-mail with a link to the source whenever something new is found. If you’re unhappy about the content, you can use tools like the ones below to bury it in search rank.
5. Use Brand Yourself
With Brand Yourself, users can sign-up and personally manage their online profiles or receive the guided support of a reputation management expert. The free account has limited features that allow you to control your search results by “boosting” three URLs you want to appear at the top of search results. Paid accounts come with more boosts and additional features. You also get instructions on how to improve the rank of certain URLs, which you can apply to all of your reputation management efforts.
6. Use ReputationDefender
ReputationDefender is a company dedicated to helping its clients improve their online reputation. Though it’s a paid service, it can help you remove or minimize unwanted search results and boost positive search items. If you have serious online reputation concerns, this may be one of your best bets.