Self-checking Your Online Identity

Googling yourself (or “egosurfing”) is formally known as vanity searching—the practice of searching for one’s own name, pseudonym or screen name on a popular search engine in order to review the results.

The term egosurfing bugs me a bit because it insinuates people do it because they are narcissistic by nature. However, egosurfing really should be called “reputation surfing” because it’s extremely important to check your online reputation for any errors, inaccuracies, slander or unwanted exposure.

Think about background checks. Background checks are a necessary tool in today’s sometimes violent and certainly litigious society. It’s common sense to require employment background checks for school volunteers, coaches, teachers, janitorial staff—really, employees of all kinds. As a small business, one the worst things you can do is hire an employee who becomes a legal liability or has a history of crime that comes back to bite you.

As a self-check, you’ll want to perform your own background checks to make sure there isn’t any erroneous information out there, or to prepare yourself if a potential employer, landlord or school administrator points out something that makes you look bad.

Your online identity is also something that others can control, and you need to do your best to manage it. Managing your online reputation and protecting it is equivalent to marketing your personal brand, YOU.

Manage your online reputation and do a self-check often. Here’s how:

Start doing things online to boost your online reputation. Register your full name and those of your spouse and kids (owning your kids domains is better than someone else owning them) on the most trafficked social media sites, blogs, domains and web-based email accounts. If your name is already gone, include your middle initial, a period or a hyphen. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to plug in your picture and basic bio.

Set up a free Google Alert for your name and get an email every time your name pops up online. If you encounter a site that disparages you, Google has advice. Get a Google Profile. It’s free and it shows up on page one.

Go to Knowem.com. This is an online portal that goes out and registers your name at what it considers to be the top 150 social media sites.

Get a WordPress blog with your name in the address bar and blog often. You want Google to show your given name at the top of search results in its best light, so when anyone is searching for you the person will see good things. Frequent blogging buries bad stuff deep the in search results.

Buy a domain name that is, or is close to, your real name and plaster your name in the HTML header so it comes up in search results.

Robert Siciliano, is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures

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