Michele Borba: 6 Tips To Help You NOT Become an Online Victim or Get Lost in Cyberspace – How to “Own” Your Virtual Image
Posted: October 14th, 2009 by Michele Borba
From parents to teens, teachers to principals, lawyers to landscapers, doctors to truck drivers, no one is immune to Internet slime. Sue Scheff’s book, Google Bomb: The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet stresses why it is critical that you learn to maintain your cyber presence.
Are you a parent of a teen starting their college applications? Are you out of work, sending out your resume? Are you a small business owner and find your business is suffering? Are you a professional that depends on your good reputation?
If you have answered yes to any of the questions above, Sue Scheff’s new book, Google Bomb is exactly what you must read. As Sue brilliantly points out, maintaining your online image today is as critical as having a good resume, outstanding application and keeping your offline personality similar to your virtual one.
Sue nearly lost her organization (Parents Universal Resource Experts). Her reputation online was smeared, as well as the invasion on her private life was going viral while she slept. No, not literally slept, however she was not aware of what was slowing turning into what is considered a Google bomb.
What Sue discovered is that one unhappy client, one disgruntled customer or a person who didn’t get the information he wanted, can take a few vicious keystrokes with a click of the mouse and turn your flourishing life into ruins. Your BFF today can turn into your foe tomorrow, or the soul mate you married is now your adversary. The latest source of revenge, is e-venge.
In her book, Google Bomb, co-authored by prominent Internet attorney, John W. Dozier Jr. you will not only read about Sue’s unfortunate experiences, but also receive practical guidance to help you be proactive in protecting your cyber image.
Here are just a few of Sue’s important tips from her book to get you started. Remember, the Internet is today’s information highway and your name has a road sign.
1. Sign up for free services and post your resume or other information that pertains to your services, business, profession etc. Some of these services are Naymz.com, LookUpPages.com, Ziggs.com, LinkedIn.com. You are in control of the content to insure that it is accurate.
2. For teenagers that will be applying for colleges, keep in mind, what you post today can haunt you tomorrow. More and more college admissions are using search engines to research their potential candidates. Take the time to secure your social networking sites and other places you surf. What does this mean? Keep it clean. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to show your parents or your grandparents!
3. Be sure to own your own name. Sign up for free services on Blogs with your name as the URL. Blogger.com and WordPress.com are two that are most frequently used. Try to keep them updated as time permits, however owning them is most important. With Blogs you can promote yourself and your expertise. A potential employer or college recruiter will be able to see your enthusiasm and this can benefit your applications.
4. Set up your Google Alerts. You want to know when your name it being used online. This is another free service that will take you minutes to set up and keep you informed when your name is posted on the Internet. Twilert.com is used for Twitter Alerts. This is another free service to be alerted if people are using your name on Twitter. When setting up your name for these alerts, use quotations around it such as “Sue Scheff.” This will give you results with strictly your full name rather than every article out there with the name Sue.
5. Buy your domain name. This can be minimum in costs and the return will be priceless. Purchasing your name through GoDaddy or another source, can cost you about $9.99 a year (ie: www.suescheff.com). Building a small website can also be cost effective. GoDaddy offers services to assist you. You may even know someone that can build this for you. Most kids today are very proficient with their technology skills.
6. Google yourself frequently. Always being aware of your virtual image can save you hours/days/weeks of correcting it. The earlier you see a negative post, the sooner you can address it. Depending on the post, you have methods you can take to correct it. In some cases you may know the person that wrote the unflattering post and you can contact them and ask what you can do to make it right. (Unfortunately, many are not that easy). If it is slanderous and abusive towards you, you can review the TOS (Terms of Service) or Code of Conduct and see if the post violates their guidelines. These are usually found at the bottom of the web page, or search the help box for that website. Once you find the TOS or Code of Conduct, email a simple and professional note to the site moderator how the post is violating their TOS and request it to be removed. In many cases you can get the post removed. Most important, is to be proactive.
The last thing you want to do is ignore your cyber image!
Back to where we started, you do want to get into your college of choice, you want to land your dream job and you want to keep your online profile up to date. Take the steps to make that happen.
For more fantastic and educational information to protect you and your family online, read Google Bomb today. It is priceless!