In this day and age of everything one can possibly think of existing online, it's only natural that over the course of time, someone might have done a few things they aren't proud of.
We've all been there we're just human after all, and none of us are perfect.
So, what happens when you are conducting an ego search and something negative pops up for you in Google for your name? The first reaction is probably to get angry, but that won't solve your problem.
The good thing is that most times, there is only one negative result to push down. And with the explosion of social media, it will be a few minutes of time spent to lock down your name across the bigger social media sites.
But that won't enough. Google loves to see social activity taking place on any profile you create, and while you might favor one social media site over another, it's very important to recognize what Google prefers in the rankings.
The first thing to do is to use your Gmail account to set up a Google Alert for your name. Tell them to list everything and send it to you everyday. This is how you can monitor your name automatically.
If your name is available as a dot-com, you should register that immediately. If you can afford to get it hosted, you should do that as well. Be sure to place some interesting information about yourself on the page. You can find cheap hosting providers everywhere, and if your reputation is that important, this is a required step.
The next step is get a profile at the following sites:
- Google Plus
- YouTube (This will be the tied to your Google Plus account)
Most of these services will let you get a "vanity" url after you prove that you're not a spambot. This is very helpful as it gives you the chance to get your name in the url of some very powerful sites. Even if your name has some numbers after it, they will still have a positive impact.
Now that you have your profiles created, you need to give them some love. I always suggest using the same profile picture across all sites. This way as readers see you across the web, they will recognize your picture. Pro Tip: Use a picture of your face and make sure you are smiling. People love clicking on pictures of people's faces, take advantage of that!
Expect to spend the next two hours properly editing your profiles. While you want to have the general information about you on all sites, you should cater to each audience that you are on. If on Pinterest, be sure to mention any interesting photos you might have taken, and if you are on LinkedIn, only mention that if it's relevant to your skills.
Part of your time spend editing your profiles is to get engaged with the communities found on each network. On Google Plus, that means joining circles, and placing people in yours. On Twitter, be sure to follow people who are interesting to you, and I think you already know how to use the like button on Facebook, right?
After your profiles are edited and filled out as much as possible, you now have to get some content for your profiles. For image sharing sites like Pinterest, Instagram (and to some degree, Tumblr) you can join groups that already have many members. Do a quick search on topics you enjoy and join any group that looks interesting to you.
Now to the tedious work part. The best metaphor that comes to mind is fishing. Now that you have content on all the popular social sites, you now have to sit back for a few weeks to see what content Google rewards with rankings.
There are some constants in what you will find in the search results, and they are typically:
- Your LinkedIn Profile
- Your Google Plus URL (Remember, Google loves Google)
Since Google and Facebook don't get along so well right now, Facebook pages typically take longer to appear on the first page. Same goes for Twitter.
Once you see the rankings and the sites that Google has rewarded with rankings, those are the ones you know are already going to do well for you. This tells you that with only a few links or a little bit of consistent activity on those sites will continue to push those rankings upward, and hopefully bury that negative result.
The other sites that don't appear on the first page will most likely show up on pages two and three. These are the ones that will need more help in order to get them onto the first page. In order to get them ranked higher, you will need to get have more activity on each site. If you can average a few posts or tweets per week on those ones, that will show Google that you didn't create those accounts to just die in cyberspace.
I can already hear some of you saying that you don't know where to get content. Nonsense! This is about you and who you are. The great thing is, you don't need to write chapters of your life. All you need to do is Tweet about your favorite TV Show, movie or band. Be sure to link to them from your accounts.
Because this is how most people use the web. Most people don't care how a web site got a number ranking in Google. As long as it serves their search query, they are happy.
Since this is about boosting your name to the top of the rankings, all the content needs to be about you and your interests. Some people feel like they are boasting when talking about themselves, but no matter who you are, there are always interesting pieces of information about you that make you interesting.
How long until I see results?
If your name is John Smith, you may never be able to knock off that negative result. But for the rest of us, you should expect this process to take anywhere from four to seven months to get the negative listing pushed off the first page of results.
There are many ways to knock down a negative listing, the key is to have patience and understand that Google is in no hurry to help you out. Keep pluging away, you will get there!