Employers, customers, friends, family, and even strangers are probably using search engines to search your name. Google, being the largest search engine by far, is the most likely way they are searching your name. When they enter your name, what do they find? Have you ever used Google to search your own name?
If so, are the results the same today? These are very important questions you need to ask yourself in order to protect your personal and professional reputation. Fortunately, you can monitor Google for search results relating to your name and take steps to ensure your online reputation or personal information does not cause you harm.
Information about you may be easily searchable on Google. When a search is entered into Google, the system uses an algorithm to give you what is supposed to be the most relevant result of the information posted across the internet.
This will include any public records posted online, especially from websites that are based on pulling public information and posting them on their website.
This may also include your home address, tax information, phone numbers, criminal records, mug shots, or any other number of available information. While Google has some of its own information stored on various websites, Google is simply the intermediary to direct people to information across the web.
Conducting searches of your name on Google is crucial to ensure harmful or even false information about you is not listed. Google algorithms continuously change and update according to what is posted to the internet, so these searches should be performed regularly to ensure nothing damaging appears. It is even possible for a search of your name to have different results only days apart.
If the search of your name on Google gives negative results that you do not want readily available, there are steps you can take to try to have that information removed and ideally save your reputation.
Searching your name on Google:
The following guidelines should be followed for searching your name on Google:
1. Start With Broad Search Terms and Then Use More Specific Search Terms
Of course, the first step to search your name on Google is to type in your name. Start with your full name and see what results appear. If your name is a commonly shared name, it may be necessary to use quotation marks to limit unrelated results. For example, if your name is John Doe, you should enter “John Doe.” Doing so will limit results that only have either the terms “John” or “Doe.” If nothing related to you appears, you may need to start branching out to more specific searches. You should search your name in combination with the town and state where you live, with previous addresses, with the name of your work, or in combination with family or friends. As you continue to search using more specific terms in conjunction with your name, you will most likely find additional results that relate to you.
2. Search the Various Pages of Google Results
When you search your name, you may need to go through the various pages of Google results. While most people stop at searches on the first page, there may be negative results that appear deeper in the pages of the search results. Not going through the additional search page results may lead to you missing important results that you do not want publicly available to a motivated searcher.
3. Use the Different Search Functions on Google
While the basic Google search function is your go-to for general search results, you need to also utilize the other search functions provided by Google. Google images are the next important function to use. Images of yourself, your family, your residence, or any other number of personal identifying information can be found. Make sure that no damaging or personal information appears in a search of your name and personal information through the images. Google news is another search function you should utilize. If your name appears in any published news articles, it should appear through the Google news search function. Google videos, which will include the Google-owned Youtube.com, may also provide some results you will want to monitor relating to your name.
4. The Reverse Image Search
One of Google’s most interesting search features is the ability to search by using an image, instead of words. By doing this, you will find any location where the image is posted on the internet.
To perform a reverse image search on Google, follow these steps:
- Select the image you want to search and have it ready to upload
- Go to the Google Image search page and select the camera icon
- Either enter a link to the image or upload the image that is saved on your computer
- Press the search button and review the results for the locations of the image.
The reverse image search may lead you to additional websites that have information about you or additional images. You can then take the necessary steps to have that information removed or suppressed in the Google search results.
5. Search Usernames and Emails
While most of us think of our actual names and identities as the main way to find personal information about ourselves, we should also consider any usernames or emails as ways to find identifying information on Google.
If you are active on any websites that require a username, you should keep track of those names and perform the Google search using those names or variations to see if personal information appears in the google search results. Perform the same process with any email addresses that may be associated with you. It may come as a surprise how many results you find using these names and the personal information that may link back to you.
As is always a good practice, if possible, using usernames or emails that do not contain your personally identifying information is a good practice, to avoid any linkage to personal information through a Google search.
Professional and Legal Help:
Occasionally, it may be necessary to seek outside help for managing Google searches and ensuring sensitive or damaging information is kept off of Google searches.
There may be extremely harmful information available which, if found by certain people, may irreparably damage you or even put your safety at risk. Having your address, family names and locations, place of work, or other identifying information may be a threat to your safety. Commonly, victims of domestic violence or other crimes fall into this category of at-risk individuals.
In response, a professional that specializes in finding your personal information on the internet and either deleting or hiding that information may be able to ensure your safety. These professionals use techniques to either remove the location of the information or to block it from appearing in Google searches. While Google and other internet websites will remove certain information voluntarily if it violates their policies, they may not remove all information upon request.
Instead, it may be necessary to seek legal help to protect your rights and safety from the publication of such information. An experienced law firm can help by sending cease and desist letters, filing for court orders, or even possibly filing lawsuits in order to get harmful information off the internet that violates your rights.
If you have any restraining orders or have previously been the victim of a crime, it may be urgent that your information is removed. A lawyer may be able to file emergency motions to have the information deleted and hidden to protect your safety.
Conducting regular searches of your name, variations of your name, addresses, professional information, and images should be done to ensure your internet presence is clean and free of embarrassing or damaging information.
The constant changing of information and the addition of information from websites means that Google’s results of your name may change from time to time. While the majority of changes will be indifferent or not apply to you, there is the chance that harmful or even false information will appear along with your name in the Google Search.
While it may be time-consuming and a drain to continuously monitor your internet presence, using the Google search function on your own name may save you from irreparable embarrassment which cannot be undone.
Certain people and businesses may have special needs related to Google searches of their names. Reputation may be critical to their professional or personal lives and may require constant monitoring. It may also be necessary for security purposes – just having identifying information available through a Google search may put certain people or businesses at risk for harm.
If you have special requirements to ensure that certain information is not associated with your name through a Google search, you should consult with a professional that specializes in search engines, security, and reputation management.
If it is an emergency, or if your legal rights are violated by the presence of personal information that appears in the Google search results, you may need to immediately contact an experienced law firm to protect your rights and have that information suppressed.