A good place to start in your personal online reputation management is by searching on your unique identifier (aka your name). We recommend you use private mode or an incognito window in order to search yourself. By using an incognito window, your web browser will not retain your search history or tracking cookies you pick up during your search. If you don’t search in incognito mode, then Google will use this data to tailor your search results based on the information it knows about you. Cool and a little creepy, right? We recommend you conduct a search of yourself every couple of months, just to keep tabs on what’s out there. If you don’t know how to open an incognito incognito browser window, check out these links for guidance, based on your Internet browser: Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
Once you have your incognito window open, just use Google to search on your first and last name in quotations, like “Jennifer Schwartz”. If you have a common name, then you should modify your search to include your school, for example “Jennifer Schwartz Georgetown”. Additional search modifiers can include your phone number, social media handles, email addresses, and any other unique terms that may be linked to your name.
Think about what a prospective admissions officer would search for, and try those terms. If you can’t find that article about your student-athlete award, chances are they can’t either. And a great way to make sure your information filters to the top of the search results is to include it on a personal webpage like the one folks create after they participate in the Virtual Workshop and receive the Tech Pack with Cornerstone.
Search engines and social media sites can modify their privacy settings and their search result algorithms, which subsequently impacts how your information can be uncovered. As time passes and you post additional content online, be sure to check back in and search for yourself all over again. You may be surprised by what you find!
By Jennifer Schwartz