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« Get Your Marketing Message Across | Main | Press Releases and Your Event Marketing . . . »

How to Leverage People ‘Googling You’ to Your Advantage

Information Is Power
The above proverb is more applicable today than ever before. In a previous post, Watch Out: People Are ‘Googling’ You, I emphasized the common practice of other people and companies using search engines to find information about you. It is becoming increasing more difficult to keep your information private regardless of your own vigilance in the matter. Fortunately, if you choose, you can use the digital trend to your own advantage.  Consider this: “Information is more powerful when you can control it, especially when the information is about you.” Do you have a firm control of your online identity?


The Information Battle for You
Most people, including myself, are adamant about keeping personal privacy.  As the world becomes more digital so does your personal information. Some state agencies are working with search engine companies to make more records searchable within major search engines. You can read more on the subject at the following link, “Google to dig up more personal records - Software to index more state files such as school test scores.”

Your Digital Choice

You need to decide how you wish to proceed in the digital age.  Some people choose to stay as anonymous as possible when it comes to the Internet.  People are going to look you up online regardless of your best privacy efforts. The information people find online about you could be good or bad and it only takes a few minutes to find something.  If you can’t beat the system you can at least use the situation to your advantage.  The easiest and most powerful way to control your online information is by having your own web site.  When you have your own web site you decide what information is public and what is kept private.  If you are interested in a few preliminary suggestions for creating your own web site please read on. An entire book could be written on this subject, so I’m going to stay to the very basic of recommendations. There are some additional links at the end of the article that might be useful.

Controlling the Information
It has never been easier or as inexpensive to have your own web site. You don’t need an elaborate web site.  In most cases a one page web site should suffice.  By having your own web site you put yourself in the position of being your own information manager.  In many cases you can register a domain and get minimal hosting, including persona email, for less than $75 USD annual. Is it worth $75 to have control of your online information?

Having your own web site is like being in charge of your own television station. You decide what's important for other people to know.  I cannot think of any other medium that offers that sort of broadcasting power for such a minimal cost. You can use your own web site to get business or personal ideas out to the entire world almost instantly. You might consider using your web site to promote your own products or services.

Registering Your Own Domain Name
Start by registering your own domain name, first name and last name, with a dot com. You might want to consider doing the same for family members.  For a few extra dollars you can keep your domain name registration private. Everyone registering a domain should take the time to consider private registration.

In some cases your name might not be available. Consider using a middle initial or other combination. Think of a few different combinations and run it by family and friends.  Ultimately the name you choose has to be readily identified with you.

Some Quick Search Engine Considerations
When you have a name registered and have selected a hosting provider make your web site live. Your web site might just be a picture of you and some contact information.  The reason to post your own web site quickly is because search engines give weight to the age of a web site.  It also helps to have some links coming to your web site. Your goal should be to get the number one listing for you name. Most people only look at the first few search results. Few people get past the first page of search results.

The Most Important Piece of Advice
Regardless of having your own personal web site or not, be cognizant of everything you do both online and off. Each time you leave a comment on a blog or web site guest book consider what others might think. This is especially true with social networking web sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Multiply. A level of caution also applies for photographs and video.  Almost anyone can post a picture or a video to the Internet from their cell phone.  My recommendation is if you’re in public consider yourself on camera.

Ask Others To Help Assess Your Online Information
Consider having family or friends review any information you about you online.  Have family and friends search the most popular search engines (Yahoo, Google, MSN, AOL) and see if they can find any information on you.

Food for Thought …

Some 71% of 2,000 14 to 21-year-olds said they would not want colleges or employers to do a web search on them before they had removed some material.
Source: BBC.CO.UK - 'Young warned over social websites'

You can turn people ‘Googling You’ into your own advantage by having your own web site. When you control the information you get to paint your online picture. If you choose not to setup your own web site be careful of what you post online. Ultimately it’s up to you to control your online identity.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:



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Comments

David Price

Hey Eugene,

Insightful post. I never really thought of the investment to own your own domain name as an investment not only in promoting yourself but equally, and probably more importantly, in the protection of your identity.

-Dave

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