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Finding yourself: Here's the right way to Google yourself

Sometimes we do it for fun, but it’s worth checking what results come up online in case there’s something

Image: Shutterstock/antb

GOOGLING YOUR OWN name used to look like the ultimate vanity step, but really, it’s more important than ever as prospective employers and sometimes random strangers want to find out more about you.

Sometimes, a first impression is based around these searches for whatever reason so when that happens, you want to put the best foot forward.

The best ways to check

Look in incognito/private mode

The simple reason for this is when you check up Google normally, it uses your browser cookies and personal info (if signed in to a Google service) to bring up relevant results. Searching from incognito/private mode starts you off with a blank slate and gives you results likely based on what someone else will see.

If you want to take things a step further, you could ask a family member or friend to search for you normally

Try out different combinations

Googling your full name is one thing, but it’s worth considering is variations so your name and location, or usernames for certain accounts are worth checking. While it’s unlikely that usernames will link back to your main profiles, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re checking a specific site, then adding tags will help narrow down your search. For example, if you put ‘site:thejournal.ie’ and then your search term, Google will limit its search to that site alone.

Check the links

Just because you’re appearing on search results doesn’t mean that people will be able to access your info. Sites like Facebook allow you to check what your profile looks like to strangers, friends and those who are on the site but not friends with you.

Check Alerts

Google has its own alerts tool which can alert you any time you’re mentioned online. Although this mightn’t apply to many people, it’s useful to have should you believe your name will come up in future.

Even if you don’t, it has set up a feature called Me on the Web, which allows you to check mentions (provided you’re signed in to your Google account).

Google Alerts Source: Google Alerts

What can you do?

So you have a decent idea of what the public can see, then it’s time to take some action. More often than not, the majority of information that will come up will relate to your own social media profiles, but if not, here’s what to do.

Change privacy settings for social media accounts

The basic one, assuming you want to keep your profiles, is to limit just how much people can see when they visit your profiles. Some like Facebook allow you to pick and choose what can be seen by whom, while others like Twitter or Instagram go for a all or nothing approach.

If you want to take it a step further, you can delete your account entirely although you should remember that deactivating your account isn’t the same thing.

If it’s a third-party site?

Then you will need to get in touch with the people behind it directly. Depending on the site, this could either be straightforward or a mess, the latter is more apparent for those sites which are no longer active.

The more details you have about it (links to said content, explaining why you would like for it to be removed), the better. It can be hit and miss depending on the site – an inactive site

If it’s particularly serious case (defamation), you could apply to Google to be removed from its search results. Although, the drawback to this is it only removes the link to said page and for a specific search term like your name. It doesn’t actually get rid of the page mind.

Read: Teenager arrested for Xbox and Playstation Christmas attacks >

Read: This is why Google is going back to the drawing board with Glass >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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