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Search engines and reputation

online reputation managementA few people have noticed that if you do a search in Google and Yahoo! for “Aaron Pratt” you find my Internet Marketing Guide. When people look for me online I want them to find this website first.

When a future employer, friend or business acquaintance searches for you online who do you want them to find? Do you want them to find an old MySpace or Facebook account where you were acting like a complete fool? What would a recruiter think of those pictures of you half naked and drunk? Good times, for sure yes BUT… would those images help land the job? How about a current employer who is looking for a few people to layoff?

We all know that people change but do not expect someone searching for you online to understand, you are judged by the traces you leave behind. The internet is a canvas, what have you painted on it? Think of the person you used to be in High School, is he/she you today? Go to your High School reunion and observe how people remember you. We go on what we know about others from the limited information we obtain. In life outside of the internet it is from memories that fade, online it is stamped in HTML, text and images which in most cases are permanent.

Not a week passes when I find a person in Google Groups complaining that their name is coming up in search from a news site, blog or other media with information destructive to their reputations. There is no way to remove news stories that get buzz (links in search engines) but if you were online first, (and own your own name) you could respond with a fresh post to your blog explaining or defending yourself.

If you care about your internet footprint there are ways to erase or cleanup your act, my best advice is to:

1.) Register your name as a domain and put up a little content on it like I did here.

2.) Link it to your Facebook account after you remove all those trashy, superficial friends and limit it to close friends and family.

3.) Go ahead and delete your MySpace account if you are not fond of it.

Webmasters: If you are like me and have several domains that are just not amusing you anymore remove the content, block the waybackmachine or redirect and burn. There are also other things you can do that I will not mention here.

I myself do not really care about my name all that much, I am not famous, work for myself and never plan to work for anyone else on a long term basis. My past online is also not damaging enough to destroy my reputation if I do decide to become more “known”. I manage my reputation because I believe everyone should, it is smart…

If you are the type that relies on others for employment or are more well known in this world, then taking a few steps to clean up your act online (by establishing an online presence) for your name can go a long way. Do it today before a story destroys you tomorrow!

3 Responses to “Search engines and reputation”

  1. Good advice. I recently met a girl who told me to look for her myspace page (or some other page) in order to get in contact with her. I did a search for her name and up came a website with these pictures of her modeling a bikini. Probably not what you want a recruiter to find at the top of google after they search your name. But then again–in her case–it might help her out. She looks pretty good in the pictures!

  2. Exactly Chris, her body might be what she markets to earn a living so in that case it would work. What happens though when she gets older and can no longer market her youth? What if she applies for a high paying job at a “stuffy” corporation and the (somewhat jealous/ competitive) female recruiter does a search in Google, finds all the images and throws her application in the trash?

    I guess my point is, if you are going to stamp the internet with a first impression, make sure you plan it out well, having a website to protect and even repair your reputation is a good idea.

  3. While one might think it’s entirely legal to run a background check through the Internet on sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and others, sources tell me that doing this and basing employment decisions upon the information is not proper. Of course, some employers continue to do this and will continue. Don’t assume the Internet is open range to go shooting down potential employees–it can get you sued.

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