If you have–do you know what is coming up in the top results? Hopefully it’s not anything that can potentially damage your online reputation. If at least a few of the top hits are links that belong to you, then good for you. You have your online reputation under control. But if there are some questionable links that pop up (even if they don’t belong to you), you now need to work overtime to get those links bumped down to the third or fourth page. But how do you even begin this process?
Forbes.com breaks down how to protect your online reputation into five simple steps. Amanda Berlin mentions that signing up for social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will help to boost your online reputation because those sites tend to rank highly in search engine results. Next, you don’t have to google yourself constantly–Google will do it for you. You can set up Google Alerts to keep track of where your name comes up in searches–and have them sent to your e-mail daily, weekly, or as often as Google finds them.
You can also make a Google Profile, which lets you choose certain links that you would like to be associated with your name (this will also allow your name to rank higher in google searches). Another good thing to do is create your own domain name and make everything on that page is something that promotes your online reputation. As for your Facebook page–don’t put anything up there that you wouldn’t want your parents (or future employers) to see.
Bob Sullivan, the blogger behind MSNBC’s The Red Tape Chronicles, gives his two cents on Facebook privacy:
“Heaven forbid you decide to run for Congress 20 years from now… I know many of you believe that you have nothing to hide, and the idea that your children might some day see your Facebook pagedoesn’t (currently) bother you at all. But here’s the problem with any privacy-related choice: it’s usually impossible to assess tomorrow’s consequences today. Or, to be blunt, you just never know what might come back and bite you in the butt.”
Taylor Buley’s article, “When Social Media Bites,” shows us two eye-opening statistics from a CareerBuilder.com survey–45% of employers use social media to research job candidates, and 35% of them found reasons not to hire someone based on something they discovered on their online profiles. That being said, if you’re willing to put risqué content about yourself for nearly all to see on the web (personally, I’m not), at least make yourself aware of how to use Facebook’s privacy settings to your advantage, or people besides you and friends will end up stumbling across it, and it can hurt you in the future. Also, take caution with who you allow to be your friend–or you could end up like this guy.