Knowing how to “Google yourself” is important in today’s digital age. It allows you to monitor your online reputation and identify any negative search results that may impact your personal or professional image.
To effectively Google yourself to find negative search results and damaging online content, use the following steps:
- Google your full name, including titles and suffixes;
- Search for your location;
- Think like a defamer when constructing your queries;
- Use different search engines to maximize coverage;
- Use search modifiers;
- Search related and linked websites;
- Set search result time restraints;
- Conduct a reverse image search;
- Use incognito search;
- Utilize Google’s built-in features to identify various types of content;
- Google your phone number.
At Minc Law, we are highly experienced in the field of online reputation management, online content removal, and internet defamation. With a track record of helping hundreds of individuals and businesses remove defamatory content from search engines like Google, we have a deep understanding of the steps and processes involved in identifying negative content and monitoring and improving one’s online presence.
In this article, we will explore the process of finding negative search results and what you can do to address them.
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Reasons to Google Yourself
With the increasing prominence of online presence in today’s job market and personal life, googling yourself has become a crucial step in maintaining one’s online reputation. Whether you are about to start applying for jobs or are concerned about what others might be saying about you online, there are numerous reasons why it is important to check your digital footprint regularly.
Why Should You Google Yourself?
Googling yourself is a necessary step in managing your online reputation, as the information found online can significantly impact various aspects of your life. With the increasing prevalence of online searches, it is essential to know what information is readily available about you, especially when it comes to job hunting or dating.
You have the right to know what information is out there and take control of your digital footprint to ensure that it accurately reflects who you are and what you stand for. Regularly checking what comes up in a Google search can prevent negative search results from causing problems in your life.
Despite the importance of monitoring one’s online reputation, many individuals neglect to do so. 60% of people surveyed admitted to never conducting searches on themselves, with only 47% doing so once or twice a year.
Only a small fraction of people have set up alerts for their names, and even fewer use reputation management software. The exception to this trend is those who have already suffered the consequences of negative online information – 77% of these individuals reported regularly checking online for information about themselves.
What Negative Information Can You Learn About Your Online Reputation By Googling Yourself?
When you google yourself, you can uncover various pieces of information about your online reputation that may not be to your liking. This can include articles written about you, your company, or any other entities with which you are associated. The articles may discuss your accomplishments, but they may also focus on negative aspects of your life, such as a bankruptcy filing, disputes with neighbors or co-workers, or anything else that might reflect poorly on you.
Moreover, social media sites and online forums can be a source of damaging information about you. If someone has written a review about your company, it can be readily accessible to anyone who performs a quick internet search. If someone has taken to social media to shame or criticize you, that post may appear on the first page of search results, and it can be difficult to erase.
In addition, information from dating sites, retail wish lists, and other online accounts can come to light when you Google yourself. This includes any inappropriate comments, photos, or messages you may have shared on these platforms. You should be mindful of the type of content you share online, as it can have a lasting impact on your online reputation.
Where Are You Most Likely to Find Information About Yourself on Google?
When searching for information about yourself on Google, there are several places where you can find information. One of the most common sources of information is social media websites such as Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. These platforms are widely used, and anything that you have posted on them can potentially be found through a search engine.
Another place to look is shaming sites such as TheDirty or ShesaHomewrecker, which are dedicated to spreading negative information about individuals and businesses. Additionally, newspaper articles and mugshot websites may appear in search results when you look for information about yourself. Revenge websites can also be a source of negative information, as these sites are created specifically to spread malicious content.
For businesses, it is also important to check consumer review websites such as RipoffReport and Google Business profiles, as these can contain reviews or comments from customers. It also helps to think like a consumer and consider what platforms you would check if you were shopping for a product or service similar to what you offer.
For example, if you are a doctor, you may want to check websites like Healthgrades.com to see if any negative information has been posted about you or your practice.
Importance of a Positive Online Reputation
A positive online reputation is of utmost importance as it can greatly impact both personal and professional aspects of life. A strong online presence can make or break a business, as potential customers and clients are likely to research a company before deciding to do business with them.
Additionally, a person’s online reputation can also dictate their personal life, including dating prospects and job opportunities.
What Can Happen If Your Online Reputation is Not Positive?
Having a negative online reputation can have serious consequences. A poor online reputation can affect your relationships and opportunities, harm your self-confidence, and change how you perceive yourself.
Interactions in both social and business settings are often based on the perceived reputation of those involved, and a tarnished online reputation can cause people and organizations to avoid engaging with you. Your online reputation acts as a filter, screening those who may or may not be interested in interacting with you.
For further reading, please see our comprehensive resource explaining the importance of a positive reputation in business.
How Has the Idea of a Positive Reputation Evolved Over Time?
The concept of reputation has been around for centuries, but its importance has evolved with the rise of the internet. With the world at one’s fingertips, it has become much easier to find information about anyone, anywhere.
In the past, people relied on word of mouth or references to form an opinion of someone or something, but now, anyone can search the internet and find out everything about a person or company. Consumers are now wired to look for issues and red flags, such as reading reviews before purchasing, checking social media profiles before hiring, and conducting online research before engaging with someone.
The shift toward online reputation management has also changed how people view the idea of reputation. In the past, reputation was primarily based on word of mouth or recommendations, but now it is based on the readily available information on the internet, which is there forever. This has made the idea of reputation more prevalent and critical in our digital age.
How Do You Build & Maintain A Positive Online Reputation?
Maintaining a positive online reputation is crucial in today’s digital age, where personal and professional interactions are often based on the perceived reputation of those involved. In this section, we will discuss various ways to build and maintain a positive online reputation.
Create More Constructive Personal Content
In order to effectively shape others’ perceptions of you, it is important to create content that positively represents the image you wish to convey. This can range from social media posts to personal blogs. By sharing positive and constructive content that showcases your strengths, you can make a lasting and favorable impression online.
Be Active Online
Building a positive online reputation requires creating personalized content, engaging with others, and fostering a positive online community. It is essential to have a few strong social media accounts rather than spreading yourself too thin across multiple platforms.
Emphasizing quality over quantity in your online presence will have a greater impact on building a positive reputation.
Monitor the Web For Mentions
Stay ahead of the curve by setting up notifications for mentions of your name or business name on search engines like Google and Bing. You can create a Google Alert to keep track of any online mentions and stay updated on what is being said about you online.
This proactive approach allows you to take control of your online reputation and make any necessary changes to maintain a positive image.
Make sure to read our article explaining how to effectively monitor your online reputation.
Eliminate Digital Threats to Your Reputation
To maintain a favorable online presence, it is crucial to examine and delete any digital material that could harm your reputation. This includes reviewing your social media accounts for any embarrassing or unprofessional photos, posts, or comments, especially if you are seeking employment, as employers often review candidates’ online presence.
Taking steps to eliminate digital threats can help to protect your reputation and increase your chances of success.
Claim Business Profiles & Respond to Reviews
Businesses can build and maintain a positive online reputation by claiming their profiles on platforms such as Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. This way, you can ensure that accurate information about your business is displayed.
Additionally, responding to customer reviews shows that you are actively engaged with customers and take feedback seriously, which can help build a positive reputation.
Use Search Engine Optimization Strategies
Optimizing your business’s online content and website through search engine optimization (SEO) techniques can help improve its visibility, as it can rank higher in search results for relevant keywords, making it easier for potential customers to find your business and learn about your products and services.
Encouraging customer reviews and responding to positive and negative feedback can help businesses establish and maintain a positive online reputation.
Responding to feedback shows customers that your company values their opinions and is dedicated to providing a high-quality experience.
Create Targeted & Brand Content
Creating targeted and branded content is a way for businesses to establish themselves as experts in their industry while also building a positive online reputation. This can be achieved through creating and sharing informative blog posts, videos, infographics, and other types of content that align with your business’s brand and target audience.
Consider Using Paid Ads
Considering paid ads on carefully chosen platforms and targeting the right audience to promote positive reviews, ratings, and feedback can help businesses build and maintain a positive reputation.
12 Tips To Google Yourself Effectively
Researching oneself online has become an integral part of personal branding and maintaining a successful career or personal life in the digital age. It is not just a matter of vanity but a crucial step in managing one’s online reputation and ensuring that information about them is accurate and up-to-date.
Statistics show that many people, including potential partners and employers, conduct online research before making decisions. Around 80% of employers research job candidates online, while 40% of people research potential dates before pursuing a relationship.
Google searches are prevalent, with over half of millennials and nearly half of Generation X reporting having searched themselves online. Some even perform these searches daily.
However, it is important to thoroughly search the internet as online information can often be outdated or inaccurate. In fact, one in five people has found erroneous information about themselves online, and one in three has encountered information influenced by someone with the same name. The internet is a vast collection of information, and it is crucial to thoroughly research it to ensure the accuracy of one’s online reputation.
Google Your Full Name
To effectively Google yourself, start by searching for your full name, including nicknames, previous names, maiden names, and your business’s registered name. This helps you locate any harmful or defamatory content, such as fake Google reviews, inaccurate online reports, or malicious comments. Avoid limiting the search to just your first and last names.
Narrow down your search by including your location or job title. For instance, searching “John Smith Cleveland” can give you more specific results. Adding a relevant search term can also help, such as “John Smith sextortion.” Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase.
Google provides a helpful guide on how to search effectively. Use “@” to narrow down social media accounts and “#” to search for trending topics.
Consider all possible names you or your business may be known by, including middle names, shortened business names, and common misspellings. If you are a married woman, past friends and acquaintances may know you by your maiden name. Do not forget to search for previous, current, and hyphenated versions of your surname. This serves as the foundation for a comprehensive online presence investigation.
Use Titles & Suffixes
To further refine your online reputation search, include professional titles and suffixes in your query. This is particularly crucial for people in professional fields like medicine, law, or academia. This can reveal anonymous reviews on websites like Vitals, Rate My Professors, Yelp, or Avvo that could damage your business.
For instance, if you are a medical doctor and changed your surname after getting married, try searching your full name with the M.D. title or your maiden name with the M.D. title to uncover negative comments on competitor review pages. Additionally, if you are known by a suffix in your professional life, such as “John Smith III,” include it in your search.
Search For Your Location
Location can be a valuable tool in your search for information about yourself. Consumer reviews, news publications, mug shots, gossip blogs, and shaming websites often sort posts by categories, with location being one of the most common.
Keep in mind that different websites may not follow the same pattern for writing cities and states, so include both the full and abbreviated versions of your location. Avoid using acronyms like L.A. for Los Angeles or N.Y.C. for New York City.
For example, search “John Jacob Smith + Los Angeles, California,” “John Jacob Smith + Los Angeles,” or “John Jacob Smith + California” if you are from Los Angeles, California.
Think Like a Defamer
To thoroughly search for negative content about yourself, try to think from the perspective of someone who wants to harm your reputation. This may be difficult, but it is necessary to uncover all potential negative information online. Utilizing specific keywords can reveal previously undiscovered defamatory content.
If you suspect someone, such as a former partner, spouse, or ex-employee, may have posted harmful content about you, search using phrases they may have used.
Below are some commonly used negative terms found in defamatory posts:
- Rip off
Use Different Search Engines
It is also important that you do not rely solely on Google but use various search engines. With billions of URLs on the internet, different search engines may produce different results. Google is a trusted site, but other search engines, such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yahoo, may reveal information that Google does not.
Even though Google accounts for roughly 93% of all search engine queries, it is advisable to utilize multiple search engines to increase the chances of finding all unwanted online content. Other popular search engines include:
- Baidu, and
- YANDEX RU.
It is also worth noting that some search engines have a larger market share in specific regions. For instance, Bing has over a 6% market share in the United States but only 3% globally.
Use Search Modifiers
Google’s search algorithm is highly effective at locating information, but the following modifiers can improve your search results if you have a clear idea of what you want to see.
Exclude Terms With a (-) Minus Symbol
To exclude a specific search term, add a minus sign (-) before the word in your query. This can help weed out irrelevant search results, such as social media platforms or unrelated topics.
Example: John Smith-Cleveland or John Smith-sextortion
Search Within a Single Website
To search for results from a specific website, use the site: shortcut followed by the website URL. Make sure to include the entire domain in your query.
Example: Dr. Ross Geller site:Healthgrades.com
Using “In” Or “All” Searches
To search for exact words in a title, URL, or text, use intitle:, inurl:, or intext: respectively. This can be useful if you only remember specific details of a post or if you heard about it from a third party.
Example: intext: John Smith cheater
Find Related & Linked Websites
To locate related and linked websites, you can use Google’s “related:” and “link:” search shortcuts.
For example, typing “related: mylife.com” in the search bar will bring up similar websites like data broker sites such as Spokeo, PeopleFinder, BeenVerified, and WhitePages.
To find every page hosting a certain link, use “link:originalsource.com” to track down all web pages linking back to the original source. This modifier only returns pages with an exact URL, so multiple searches may be necessary for numerous articles. By finding related and linked websites, you can get a comprehensive view of your online presence and work to remove unwanted information.
Set Search Result Time Restraints
To monitor new mentions, limit your search to recent content by specifying a time frame. This can be done by selecting options such as past hour, day, week, month, or year. You can also use the custom date range filter to search within a specific time period.
Conduct a Reverse Image Search
Online attacks can sometimes include an image or other media as a way to lend credibility to false or damaging information. A reverse image search can be performed on Google Images to locate websites where this media is posted.
This can be done by uploading the image in question, dragging and dropping it into the Google Images search bar, or searching Google Images with the image’s URL. This will display other websites where the image is posted along with related images.
Use Incognito Search
Using incognito search allows you to see Google results and websites without Google increasing the ranking of those results. This feature is helpful for individuals mentioned in multiple news articles or those who want to conduct a personal search before job hunting without leaving a trace.
Utilize Google’s Built-In Filters
Google provides filters that allow you to see specific types of content that might reference you online. The default filter is “all” which shows text results. Other filters include images, news, videos, books, maps, and shopping.
The “images” filter is particularly useful in finding adult content, as porn videos often have similar title cards. Checking your image results is important for those who want to know what images come up in their search results, such as those going on a first date or job hunters.
Google Your Phone Number
Googling your phone number can reveal surprising information because phone numbers are unique to a person. Searching your number can link you to various data broker sites and potentially harmful information on predator and shaming websites.
For example, sites like PredatorsAlert.com may only be found by using someone’s phone number and contain sensitive information like full names, addresses, and explicit photos. Users of dating apps like Tinder and Hinge may also be vulnerable to these types of posts.
How to Suppress & Remove Negative Google Search Results About You
Once you have located any negative content about yourself online, there are steps you can take to suppress and remove the content.
Some options include contacting the website or platform hosting the content and requesting removal, reaching out to the person or entity responsible for posting the content and asking them to take it down, or utilizing online reputation management services to bury the harmful content with more positive content about you.
It is important to keep in mind that removal may not be guaranteed, and some content may remain online permanently. For more specific information, we recommend checking out this article on removing defamatory online content.
What Can You Do if the Information About You in Google Search Results is True?
If the information about you that appears in Google results is true, you still have several options. You can request a retraction or redaction of specific parts of a document, such as your name or last name, from a newspaper article. You can also utilize SEO services to create positive content that will push down the negative search results.
For business owners, responding to reviews is another option. It is also important to bring in many positive reviews to counteract any negative ones. Utilizing online reputation management (ORM) can also help suppress negative content and promote a more positive online image.
What is the Process For Removing & Pushing Down Negative Search Results?
The process for removing or pushing down negative search results involves several steps:
- Reach out to the individual or website to request removal or de-indexing. This involves sending a polite and professional email or letter requesting the removal or de-indexing of the negative content. If the recipient is willing to comply, they may voluntarily remove or de-index the content.
- File a lawsuit to obtain a court order to remove the content. If the content in question is defamatory, infringes on your rights, or violates your privacy, you may consider filing a lawsuit to obtain a court order to remove the content.
- Send a cease and desist. A cease-and-desist letter can be sent as a warning to the individual who is publishing unlawful content. The letter demands that they stop their actions and remove the content or face potential legal consequences. It is important to seek legal advice before sending a cease-and-desist letter, as it should be written and delivered in a specific manner to have the desired impact.
- Make an editorial request. This involves asking the publisher to remove specific content that is deemed inaccurate, irrelevant, or otherwise inappropriate.
- Send a de-indexing request to Google for violations of Terms of Service (ToS). You can send a de-indexing request to Google if the result is believed to violate Google’s ToS. This can include issues such as copyright infringement or sexually explicit content. The request is reviewed by Google’s legal team, who will determine if the result should be removed from search results.
- Opt out from data broker sites. This involves contacting data brokers and asking them to remove your personal information from their websites. Opting-out processes vary by data broker but typically involve submitting a request through their website or contacting them directly.
- Ask the website to update content. You can contact the website owner and request that they change or remove information that is inaccurate or outdated. This can include incorrect contact information, outdated biographies, or outdated product listings.
- Suppress content. Suppressing content involves reducing the visibility of specific results, so they do not appear as prominently in search results.
- Flag content for ToS violations on the platform. You can also bring attention to content that may violate a specific platform’s ToS. This can include hate speech, harassment, or unlawful activities.
For more information on any of the aforementioned content removal options, check out our articles on removing online content and getting something taken off the internet.
What is the DMCA & How is It Used For Negative Search Results?
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a law that provides legal protection for copyrighted materials, such as written content, photos, videos, and other media. If a website, search engine, or web host uses your content without your permission, you can request its removal by submitting a DMCA takedown notice.
This is a legal demand for the removal of the infringing material. However, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced internet attorney when considering a DMCA takedown notice, as an incorrect notice can cause more harm than good.
An experienced internet attorney can help you determine if the notice is appropriate and guide you through the process of crafting and submitting it properly.
We Can Help Remove Damaging & Defamatory Content From the Internet
Finding negative or defamatory online content can be overwhelming and lead to disastrous consequences in both your personal and professional life.
At Minc Law, we have extensive experience removing unwanted and damaging content from the internet. Our attorneys have removed over 50,000 pieces of damaging online content and assisted thousands of individuals and businesses in taking control of their online reputations.
“I highly recommend the Minc Law firm. Not only were they knowledgeable, professional and timely in resolving my matter, but they were a pleasure to work with. Dan, Darcy and Melanie thank you for everything! My only regret was not engaging the firm earlier.”
May 21, 2021
To schedule your initial, no-obligation consultation with an intake specialist, you can contact us by calling (216) 373-7706, speaking with a chat representative, or filling out our contact form.