Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A New Year: A New Online You

Look at all your online presences
Look at all your online presences
The New Year is a great time to assess how you appear to the online world.

Are there unflattering comments about you on a blog post? Are you tagged in inappropriate images on Facebook? Are there things attached to your name online that give the wrong impression?

You exist online in so many places you’ve likely lost track of how the world sees you. So use the excitement of New Years to do an inventory of your online presences and your overall online image. Then get busy with your online makeover.

This is the first of a three-part series on how you can assess and improve your online self.

Today: Where you are now online and the basic clean up

Step 1: Search for yourself online: Things to remember …
   • Use quote marks around your name and the most-common variations of your name
   • In Google, make sure that the Personal/Global results button (upper right on the Google search window) is toggled to Global so you’re seeing the results that the rest of the world sees
   • Go through at least the first five pages of results – the first 10 to 12 would be better
   • Also look at other services such as 123People
   • Check all results that are unfamiliar/surprising and make a note of the results you’d like to change or delete

Step 2: Clean up the obvious:
For pages and accounts you control:
   • Make sure all of the "About" and "Bio" sections of all online accounts are accurate and devoid of typos
   • Edit and improve your Google profile, which is a public bio that comes up as one of the top search results for your name
   • Delete posts from your blog that don’t show you in the best light

For pages and accounts you don’t control:
   • (From Google) Contact the owner of the web page or the webmaster and work with them to get the problematic content updated or removed
   • (From Google) Work with the appropriate legal authorities to get the content removed from the web

Step 3: Overwhelming the negative: One do-it-yourself approach to getting rid of negative web content is to bury it with positive content. For example, by starting a blog and posting to it regularly.Other ideas:
   • Comment on other, highly rated, blogs
   • Ensure that content you control (your blog, for example) is correctly tagged and the text is search engine optimized
   • Seek endorsements and recommendations on Linkedin (and only display the most positive)
   • Help others on social networks in your area of professional expertise
   • Accept opportunities to be quoted in the media (and therefore on their websites)

These are just a few of the things you can do to improve your online reputation.

Next up: How to work with Google and the biggest social networks to clean up negative or other inappropriate content; to be followed by a guide to professional services that help clean up your online image.

What other steps would you recommend to clean up an online image?

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