Eight Tips to Outwit Google Suggest and Protect Your Online Reputation
When searching, many people enjoy the convenience of using “Google Suggest” When performing a search, this feature tries to determine what you may be searching for, conveniently completing your search phrase. This feature can speed up searching, help determine the best search phrase, and in general, just improve the quality of a person’s searches.
However, underneath its helpful exterior lies an interior that may be doing a bit more than you’d prefer. Some feel that may get a bit too personal, leaving one open to privacy and online reputation threats. If you’d like to outwit “Google Suggest” and ensure that your online reputation is protected, here are eight tips that can help.
Tip 1 – Disable the Web history feature for your Google account
When you sign up for a new Google, account, the Web history feature is enabled by default. Although this feature does provide some conveniences, many feel it is also an online privacy intrusion. To check if you have this feature enabled, simpy click on “Settings” at the top of the page and select “Google Account Settings.” Then, click on “Web History,” in the “My Products” section. There you will be able to see if Web history is enabled or paused. If it is enabled, you’ll see a list of your searches, along with the dates and times. To disable this feature, first click the “Remove items” link. Then, click the “Pause” link to prevent your future Web searches from being logged.
Tip 2 – Disable the Web history feature outside of your account
Even when you’re not logged into your Google account, your search history can be tracked and recorded. To check this,first make sure you are logged out of your account. Then, perform a search. On the “Search Results” page, you will see a “Web History” link at the top of the page, which you should click. Then, click the “Disable customizations based on search activity” link on the resulting page if Web history is currently enabled.
Tip 3 – Delete your browser cookies
Tip 4 – Log out of your Google account
When you perform searches while logged into your Google account, your past searches are factored into the results. While this can sometimes be handy, it also indicates that Google is using techniques to “remember” things about your searching habits. If you are often logged in to your Google account, such as to use Gmail or any of their other services, Google is probably keeping track of your search history. In order to avoid associating your searches with your account, always log out of your Google account before searching.
Tip 5 – Elmer Fudd to the rescue
If you thought Elmer Fudd was just Bugs Bunny’s nemesis, think again. If you click on “Settings” at the top of the Google page and then select “Search Settings”, you’ll be presented with the “Preferences” page. Under “Interface Language,” you’ll see a dropdown selector. Among all the various languages, you’ll see one called “Elmer Fudd.”
By selecting “Elmer Fudd,” you will automatically block the “Auto Complete” feature. As an added bonus, you’ll also be disabling Google’s new “Instant” feature and the “Image Search” interface. However, it’s important to note that the “Safe Search” feature will also be disabled, which could be a concern if you have children using the computer. Also, the text on Google’s sidebars will take on a decidedly Elmer Fudd accent, using words such as “pweview.” But it can be a small price to pay for disabling three Google suggest features in one fell swoop.
Tip 6 – Using the Google toolbar to make searching more private
If you use the Google Toolbar to perform searches, there are a couple of things you can do to make your searching more private. By disabling the “Suggest searches as you type” and “Provide suggestions for incorrect or unavailable URLS” options, you’ll avoid sending certain data to Google. However, it’s important to understand that changing these features will also change the searching experience for everyone using the same computer. Make sure nobody else turns them on if you want to ensure these features are off when you search.
Tip 7 – Check Google search results periodically
You may not want Google Search tracking information about you. However, it can certainly be helpful to re-enable it periodically to see what this feature is saying about you or your company. The “auto complete”, Google suggest feature shows results based on search popularity. As such, it can be an indication as to what others are searching on related to your name. If you type your name or company name into the search field, does Google try to complete the phrase with negative terms such as “scam” or “complaints?” If so, you might have a problem.
Tip 8 – Cleaning up your Internet reputation
If you do find negative results, you cannot simply ask Google to remove them. If the information exists on the Web, it will show up in the search results automatically. As such, you need to find this negative information and have it deleted. Searching for disparaging information about you or your company on social networking websites, blogs, review websites, and other websites is an important part of protecting your online reputation.
If you do find negative information, using a service such as MyReputation from ReputationDefender can help. By contacting websites to have negative data removed, and taking steps to counteract negative information with positive information, a good reputation management service can definitely help you protect your online reputation.