Google’s not just for stalkers

When I got my first email address back in the early 90s it was considered dangerous to reference any part of your real name in the address. We all ended up with email address like or When gmail started taking over, suddenly it was considered abnormal to not include your name in the address. The days of anonymity are not only over but completely replaced with full disclosure. Everyone is expected to have a professional website along with a social media account to share every meal they’ve ever had.

Now that there’s a digital record of you out there, it’s important to monitor it. I never thought I’d say this, but you should be googling yourself. In this day in age, the first thing people do is google your name when they meet you (or even before they meet you), and it’s your job to make sure you’re presenting your best self in the search results. To do this, you must make sure that the results are accurate, and, as it was in my case, they’re actually you and not some girl in West Virginia with the same name. Here’s how:

  1. Update your google+ account. google+While I loath the idea of adding another time-sucking social media site into my repertoire, especially one as seemingly useless as google+, the fact is google has the market on search engines, therefore they are going to give priority to their social media outlet over all others. Take a little time to post a good picture of yourself, and make sure there’s no embarrassing info on your board.
  2. Figure out what your public image is.
    I am a writer, and I host conferences. That means that my profile on my blog, on twitter, on LinkedIn and whatnot, needs to say those things. Be consistent. Even though I’m a goofball in person, I want people’s first online impression of me to be professional, so in all those platforms I use images of me during the conference. Make sure that your social media is presenting the person who you are and want to be. Don’t forget that if you don’t update your facebook privacy settings, anyone can see those embarrassing spring break photos.
  3. Keep everything up to date.
    After getting married, I changed my last name on my passport, social security card, drivers license, bank accounts, and library cards and just when I thought I was done I realized that I hadn’t changed my name on most of my online platforms. My YouTube page, blog and google+ pages were still under Tracy Young. Make sure you update name changes, job status, and interests. Also, if you’re using a picture of yourself that doesn’t still look like you, get rid of it. I remember meeting someone in person, looking them up online a few days later, and then thinking that I got their name wrong because the picture on their profile was about twenty years younger than the person I met.
  4. Make sure you include your name.
    If you want your website or blog, or twitter account to show up when people search your name, you need to include your entire name in the profile. It will also help to list your name in the tags for the post.  Nowadays when you type someone’s name into google, an image search appears as well. Make sure you include your full name in the image description.

If you have any other good ideas for amping up your online presence, please share them in a comment!


  1. Great advice Tracy. If I may add a bit more to this excellent and succinct post–if you can spend the time updating all your new projects, sharing items you found useful for your growth as well on LinkedIn as well as the FB page you use professionally and letting your community know you are a “sharer” you will begin to form a community as well around that person you have spent so much time cultivating online. Tracy is correct, the person we get to know virtually is not you but the professional you are in your field.


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