Defensive Googling, a Why/How to Guide

Defensive Googling is the process of finding all the content on the internet that is associated  with your name. How you come across on the internet is more important than ever in this connected world. Whether you’re applying for jobs or seeking new clients, these people WILL google you. Over 80% of companies will google a job applicant before inviting them to an interview. Because of this we want to take a minute to really delve into the concept of Defensive Googling to make sure you’re putting you best cyber-foot forward.

Are you the only person in the world with your name? Probably not. Of course, you can’t stop other people using your name, but you can make sure the search returns on your name are positive. Regardless of whether the information that googlers find is about you or your name sharing partners. Studies have found that if a person reads something negative attached to your name, they will associate that something with you – even if  you didn’t actually do the negative thing! This means complete strangers can be ruining your online reputation. Because of this, we have found some of the best advice around to make sure you can avoid this conundrum.

First things first, find out what’s out there. Start by using the most common form of your name enclosed within inverted commas. Like this, “Firstname Surname.” Putting your name in inverted commas lest google know that you’re searching for that exact phrase in your search returns.

Next, carefully analyse the search returns. Maybe you’re lucky and have a really unique name that only has returns that are actually you, or there’s only positive information associated with your name (to all the Mary and John Smith’s out there, we feel for you!)

If you’re getting returns that you don’t like it’s time to find a “clean name” version of your name. Try searching a combination of middle names or middle name initials, until you find that clean version.

Now that you have that clean name, use it! This is the name that you need to use to identify yourself professionally from now on. This name needs to go onto your resume, cover letter, email address, email signature, LinkedIn account, Google+ account, Business Cards, Job applications and anything else associated with you professionally.

“But what if someone sullies my good name?” We’ve got you covered. You can set up a Google Alert on information on your name. If any new information becomes associated with your name, you’ll be the first to know and can take the necessary steps to resolve the issue.

If you’re unsure on how Defensive Googling fits into the big scheme of things, in regards to cleaning up your online presence, you can read up on our advice for building your Personal Brand.