Hiding Embarrassing Search Engine Results for Your Name

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Maybe there’s someone with your name from the same city who’s been in the news. Or perhaps you made a mistake when you were younger and you’re sick of it haunting you whenever someone Googles your name. Whatever the reason, negative content associated with your name could be costing you potential opportunities.

Is it hopeless?

Maybe, but probably not. If you’ve been accused or convicted of something that’s made national news, image-tarnishing SERPs are probably the least of your concerns. But if you share the name of a local bank robber, it’ll be relatively easy to outrank the negative results so you get a fairer shake.

If possible, buy a domain that exactly matches your name. If not, buy the closest thing possible.

File complaints

Young anxious professional

First off, if there’s anything inaccurate about you online, you should demand it be taken down ASAP. Send your requests to the webmasters and their hosting providers. Tell them your next step is to contact a lawyer. If it’s crickets, then consider hiring an attorney to draft a takedown notice.

If there’s stuff online that’s true but embarrassing, it doesn’t hurt to ask for it to be taken down. If your alma mater’s student newspaper article about your DUI from 2008 is ranking, the paper’s current editor is likely to sympathize.

Get your own website

Web content writer

If you don’t already have a personal website, do it right now. If you have $25 to spare, there’s no reason you can’t have your own website up and running within the hour. There’s no shortage of reliable WordPress hosting providers who provide one-click installations. I use Siteground.

Write a detailed autobiography

I know how awkward this can be but you want to establish your site as the authority on your name. Be as detailed as possible.

To give your bio even more potential search engine visibility:

  • Include a table of contents so your results take up more economy
  • Link to it from within the main navigation and throughout the site where it makes sense
  • Include outbound links when they’re relevant, such as schools you attended, places you’ve worked at, teams you’ve played on, clubs you belong to, etc.
  • Link to your bio from your social media profiles

Blog frequently

It may be unnatural to you but this is a good habit to get into. Your blog doesn’t need to have an overarching theme or anything. Just write about whatever interests you (that you’re ok with the world knowing about at least).

Creating volumes of content over time will beef up your search engine presence and might even lead to new opportunities.

Increase your social media presence

Social media

I get it. Maybe you’re not into social media. You have a LinkedIn profile you log into every time you need a new job and that’s it. It’s perfectly reasonable and probably good for your health.

Sometimes circumstance are not ideal. Social media may be a necessary evil for you.

LinkedIn

Start here. For advice on optimizing your LinkedIn profile for search engines, check out this great post by Girlboss.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile has:

  • Your complete relevant work history
  • A detailed biography section
  • In-depth details about your roles at past positions
  • Recommendations from colleagues (ask for them if you don’t have any)
  • The maximum number of skills allowed
  • Education history, with as many details as possible
  • A link to your website
  • An exact match username if possible (mine is mikekalil)

Basically, you want your LinkedIn profile to be as full of content as possible. The more content there is, the more likely it is to rank high in SERPs. Also make sure to connect with as many colleagues as possible.

Facebook

I know. There are a lot of reasons to hate Mark Zuckerberg, but Facebook profiles do dominate SERPs for people’s names.

If you have a deactivated account, reactivate it. Scrape anything that might be questionable. Make as much public as you’re comfortable with, especially profile photos. This will help you appear in the Google Images SERPs boxes.

Instagram

The same goes. Delete anything questionable and make it public if you’re comfortable with that.

Twitter

Make a point to post more often. Maybe once a day. You’ll feel awkward at first but it’s for the greater good.

YouTube

Make sure your profile is indexable, and that you’re not following anything suspect. Vlogging is a great way to get your name up in the SERPs. There’s something you’re an expert on.

Local listings

Freelance digital marketer

Create a Google My Business listing to offer your freelance services. Again, this can lead to opportunities you’d otherwise miss. Check your local listing presence at Moz.

Last resort: Google Ads

Google Ads expert

If there’s some really bad content that comes up for your name, the waiting game may not be an option.

If you’re currently applying for jobs or have interviews scheduled, it can’t hurt to bid on your name’s keywords. Unless your name is extremely common, the amount is probably low. The CTR is likely to be low too but that’s ok because you don’t want to pay for those clicks.

If you’re looking for a new job, check out my Google Data Studio dashboard for job seekers.

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