Googling Your Name: How to Improve Your Personal Online Reputation

Have you ever typed your name into a search engine? You should take a moment to do that every now and again to get a sense of what's out there about you. Most times, you'll probably find very little… but other times, you may not like what turns up. So how can you improve your reputation online?

How Did I Get A Bad Reputation?

This can happen for any number of reasons; an ex-lover has decided to "get back" at you, a disgruntled employee is lashing out, or even anonymous people online decide to "troll" you because they find it funny. Regardless, it's important to repair the damage… and prevent it from happening again.

Removing Content

Content about you online falls into two categories: content you can remove directly, and content you have to request to be removed. The first category is pretty simple; comments about you on your blogs or social media presence, photos you'd prefer you not be tagged in, and other content that perhaps doesn't present you in the best light is easily removed.

Content on other people's web presence isn't so easily removed. However, it's also important to take the tack that it never hurts to ask. Look up the terms of service and privacy policy for each website; if content violates that policy, ask that it be taken down. Remember that the interpretation and application of these policies are entirely up to the site; they might disagree with you, and there's little you can do.

Removing Links

Another tactic is to remove the links altogether. Not many people are aware that search engines like Google have a form you can fill out to ask for specific links to be removed, and in any reputation repair situation, it never hurts to ask.

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Just like a privacy policy or a terms of service, each search engine has sole discretion as to what links they remove and what links they keep. If you can demonstrate that the content at those links is provably false, libelous, or otherwise inaccurate, that will definitely help your case. But again, if they choose to leave the link up, there's little you can do.

"Exiling" Links

Finally, there's the most effective method for getting bad links off your search results and mending your online reputation: pushing them off your front page of results altogether.

Search engines constantly rank their content in terms of "relevance" to the search terms in question. While any search engine keeps their exact algorithm a secret, how often a link is clicked on and shared weighs heavily in all their calculations. So, as you create more relevant and well-seen information about yourself, the other, older links are pushed down in the results.

This is important as most people searching for you never look past the first page. A link on your second page of results is essentially invisible. So, when mending your reputation, pushing those links off the first page of your results will often go a long way. You'll need a reputation firm such as ReputationDefender to help, but this will be the best way to fix even the worst online reputation.

Photo credits: David Castillo Dominici of

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