How to Google yourself (in the right way)

by Mihail Angelov
google yourself, egosurfing, online presence



First of all, don’t tell me that you haven’t tried to Google yourself at least once? 🙂

We’ve all been there, searching for ourselves, on Google.

So, what does it mean to Google yourself?

This is nicely described in Wikipedia’s definition of Egosurfing. It is the practice of searching for your name or pseudonym (variations) on popular search engines to review the results.

OK, cool… but why we are doing that? Let me share with you the exact reasons.

The reasons you want to do this

One thing to consider when reviewing your public web content is its impact on your online reputation. In your life, you will apply for a job, school, new apartment, or loan. Therefore, these are the main reasons why you will want to Google yourself:

  1. Online reputation management – have clean and relevant public information on the internet
  2. Be ready for job search – job seekers often search for information about a candidate on Google and most of the social networks.
  3. Track what is being said about you, your business, or your clients in real-time

Some public and private institutions will Google your name during an application process and take what they find into account, no matter how unfair it may seem.

You’ll want to know if there’s anything connected to you that could be harmful to your online reputation (bad or fake photos) or just old and embarrassing info like an old profile on an online dating site or some hate speech on some forum.

Before we dive into this blog post, let me share some great Google search tips that you can use to search for anything you want.

Useful Google search tips

There are a few types of how you can search on Google, but everybody just goes with the plain regular way.

This is called a phrase match search and it will give you a broad array of results.

Besides this, there are advanced search operators that can help you get more specific and accurate information.

Check this table of the most commonly used search operators.

OperatorUsage
” “Exact match – Limit the results to the ones containing the exact phrase in the quotation marks; e.g. “John Doe”
Exclude the term (or a whole operator) by putting the minus symbol in front of it; e.g. John Doe social profiles -Linkedin
*Acts as a wild-card character that will match any word or phrase; e.g. John Doe* Linkedin
( )Group multiple operators and control the order in which they are executed; e.g. John Doe (facebook | twitter | linkedin) 

Now, having these search operators in mind, you can try and test every one of them in the following steps on how to Google yourself correctly.

How to Google yourself correctly in a few easy steps:

1. Set your browser to Incognito mode (Private mode)

Why is this the first step you should take? When you use incognito mode when searching on a browser, you get results that are not impacted by your search history and your browser cookies. Google services that you logged into and other search engine factors personalize your search results such as your location.

If you want to go a step further, you could ask your friends or a family member to search for your name in search engines.

2. Use exact phrases and variations or your name

Start with a simple web search in the search bar, as an average user. Type your exact name and later try with some relevant variations of it. 

In addition, try even typing some misspellings of your name and see what will come up. There may be other people with a name same as yours so it is critical to check and manage your online reputation.

3. Search the first 3 pages and also check Google images, videos, maps and news

You should go beyond page 1 on Google to find more information about yourself. It is highly likely that not every website (page) that has information for you, is indexed by search engines.

Additionally, you should always do a Google Image Search. This may be a faster way to find information about yourself but never rely only on this method.

Also, check the “Videos” section and Google Maps. Use Google News to find out if you have been quoted in some news article.

4. Check your Email address

Run a search for your current and past email addresses. Most of the online forums use an email address as usernames, so something interesting can pop up.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to run a search for your phone number when going through this process.

5. Use SERP location changer

This may come as an advanced tactic but can be proven very useful. Many SEO and SEM professionals use tools like these.

Whether you are in an Incognito mode or logged out of your Google account, the search engine results will be based on your current location. You can use a SERP location changer tool to search a specific keyword from a different location and get different results.

BONUS: Check your social media profiles

Above all, never forget to check the most popular social networks. The majority of information that will come up will relate to your own social media profiles

Your LinkedIn profile is most eligible to be served in position #1 in the Google results as LinkedIn is a highly authoritative and relevant social network.

On the other side, some fake Facebook profile or Instagram account with your name and photo can pop up anytime without you not knowing about that. It is hard to stay ahead of this, so doing regular checks of your online presence today is becoming a necessity.

To prevent this from happening, you can audit and change the privacy settings for your social media profiles and disable your public information to slip out.

Google your business

On the other hand, maybe you want to google your business or the company you are currently working now. This information may be connected to you somehow, so it is a great additional search effort that you should do.

As covered above in this blog post, you can use the same tactics and search tips to find information about your business. Concentrate on your Google My Business account (if you have one) and how your business appears on Google Maps local listings.

It is vital to hold great personal branding and public image of your business because in many scenarios it can be represented as a reflection of yourself.

What does Google know about me?

Every one of us has a Google account (Gmail) and we often use it to log in to various tools and services on the internet. This data gives Google access to almost every move you make on the internet. Secondly, Google Chrome is the most used browser on the planet and most of us use it as a default browser.

With these tools, Google can track your interests, your location, your video-watch history, what topics you like and similar activities from your online life.

On to you

Today, the internet can make or break a person in seconds. Therefore, I would say it is vital to Google yourself and see what information is there about us on the internet, and try to keep a clean online profile.

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