Have you ever Googled yourself?

What shows up when you Google search yourself? You might be surprised by what turns up. That’s why I want you to do an online presence audit this month.

If you’re looking for work, own a small business, or do a lot of networking you can bet that someone will type your name into Google. You need to have control over what they see. An annual online audit will help you catch anything that you’d rather the public not have access to, like photos of your family.

What shows up in Google?

Anything that you publish online can show up on Google. This is why it’s so important to consider everything you publish. For example, I recommend never publishing images of your home with the address showing, or providing personal information in online forums.

On Facebook, if your post audience is set to Public, it can show up in a Google Search. The same goes with photos you post online.

You should also never publish your credit card number, social security number, and private contact information.

It might seem paranoid, but you could be providing too much information. Believe me, internet trolls exist!

Your online presence audit checklist

Here’s a step-by-step process for doing your annual online presence audit.

  1. Open an incognito window in your web search browser, such as Google. You can do this by right-clicking on the browser icon and selecting New Incognito Window.
  2. Type your full name into Google.
  3. Go through several pages and verify each entry with your name on it. If you come across a source you’d rather not be public, go to that website and contact the site owner to request your information be removed. If it’s something on a social media site, make the post or image private, or delete it.
  4. Next, click the images tab in your search browser and type your full name in again. Verify that any photographs of you are ones you’re okay with the public finding, and request any you’d rather be private be taken down by the site owner.
  5. Login to your social media accounts, and review your photos. Make private or delete any you would rather not be viewed by the public.
  6. Review your social media security settings to control how your posts are viewed. If you prefer that only your “Friends” view your Facebook posts, you can set your post default to Friends only. I highly recommend you do this to protect your family’s privacy.
  7. This is a bonus item: unsubscribe from any email lists you don’t want to be on. Simply scroll to the bottom of the email and click the unsubscribe link.

Having trouble removing something?

It is absolutely your right to have any information that’s been published about you removed from the internet.

If you’ve requested something to be removed from a website, but haven’t heard back, refer to their privacy policy or terms and conditions webpages (typically linked in the footer of their website). Scroll through the page, which should have further contact information. Even an alternate email address that goes right to the site owner can be effective if their general email is managed by someone else in the business.

Be the master of your own information and protect your privacy by controlling where you show up online. Schedule an annual online presence audit into your calendar — biannual is even better!

Why not get a computer or systems audit while you’re at it? Contact me today to schedule one.