An article this week in BusinessWeek magazine posed this question in relation to the growing influence that Google is having over interpersonal relationships and hiring.  Prospective employers, blind dates, girlfriend’s parents and business colleagues are just a few of the groups that might be Googling your name.  And if they did, what would they find?  The intriguing premise that the article explores is that there is no eraser for online content.  Something you posted years ago may still appear online.  For those of us who had our wild and crazy teenage years before the Internet, this may not pose much of a risk.  But for the huge generation of teens and preteens growing up documenting their lives on MySpace, Xanga and other community networks — the future may not be so risk free.  I have had many client situations where we are crafting a search engine strategy around a crisis to ensure that people get our side of the story and don’t just find the negative.  Now it seems that individuals may have the same challenge.  A few years from now, will we start seeing search engine optimization courses or consultants for individuals?  Until then, here are a few tips on how to make sure you give good Google:

  1. Create a website or blog so you have something for people to find other than those undesirable links
  2. Register your own domain (with your name as part of it) so it will be easier to optimize for relevant google searches   
  3. Claim your identity on people finding sites like Zoominfo, Ziggs or Zabasearch.
  4. Join social networking sites like Linkedin or Friendster and invite others to link to you
  5. Comment on popular blog posts and newsmedia stories and link your name back to your website
  6. Submit your pages to search engines and directories like Google, Yahoo, MSN, Alexa, and DMOZ to help your new content start replace outdated content and links about you