Give Google what you’d want people to find

When someone Googles your name, do you like what they find? 

Whether you're applying to college, trying to get a job, or just wooing someone you hope to date more than once or twice, they’re often going to do their Internet due diligence and learn what they can.  It seems to me, we’ve all got three choices of how we influence the results.

1. You can work to keep things from Google. 

You can try to maintain your online anonymity—no Facebook profile, no uploaded photos, no blog or Twitter account, etc.  The two problems with this are 1) You’ll never be able to control everything, and 2) when you don’t show up online at all, people will wonder what the heck you’ve been doing with your time.  No online presence is almost as weird as a questionable one. 

2. You can let Google have everything, from anyone. 

Tweet your every thought.  Let anyone post embarrassing photos of you on Facebook.  Make all your profiles public.  Once you make that (probably bad) choice, you’d better hope you don’t change your mind.  That privacy will be hard to get back.

3. You can give Google what you want people to find.

The best option is to work to build an online presence you’re proud of and actually want people of consequence to see.

  • Write a blog about your soccer season and post all the photos of your club team’s trip to Europe.
  • Start a personal website where you share your photography, or sell your self-published guide to fixing computers, or show all the before and after photos of the Ford Bronco you restored with your dad.
  • Launch a YouTube channel with videos of you playing piano in the jazz band (and maybe keyboard in your legit 80s cover band, too?).
  • Read 10 books about the Civil War or Italian cooking or how to pitch a softball.  Then write thoughtful, provoking reviews and post them on Amazon. 

It’s not up to you whether or not people decide to Google you.  But you get to make some choices about what they find.