The first thing someone may do to learn more about you is do an online search for your name. What do mystery shopping companies and others find when they search for you online? The answer could affect your ability to get hired as an editor or scheduler, or even for some mystery shopping assignments. Here is how to find out what your online reputation is, and make sure it shines.
Learn what searchers see when they look for you by searching for your name.
- Search for you name with and without quotation marks: “Cathy Stucker” and Cathy Stucker
- Search for any variations you use, such as a middle name, initials, or title (e.g., Dr. or Rev.).
- If you have a well-known screen name that is associated with you (e.g., “Shopping in CA”) search for it, too.
- Although Google is the leading search engine, it is not the only one. Search:
http://www.Dogpile.com/ (Queries multiple search engines.)
The idea is to see if anything damaging shows up. This may include:
- Attacks on mystery shopping companies or other shoppers.
- Inappropriate photos.
- Excessive profanity.
- Violations of confidentiality agreements.
- Someone attacking you.
Dealing with bad results
When possible, get rid of the bad stuff.
- If it is your site, remove the offending content.
- If you control the content (e.g., your MySpace profile) delete the profile or just the bad stuff.
- If you do not control the content, ask the owner to remove it. (Caution: If someone deliberately posted something negative about you, it is unlikely they will remove it. Asking them to do so may cause them to make additional attacks.)
- If someone posts content to which you could claim copyright (almost anything you wrote, draw or photographed) file a notice of copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Notify the site owner, their hosting company and Google. You can learn more about how to do this at http://www.google.com/dmca.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMCA
Can’t get it removed? Bury it.
Newer items on high-ranking sites will cause the old stuff to drop in the search results. The bad stuff will still be there, but even your mother will not look at result 179 for your name.
Create positive, quality content. These things do not have to be related to mystery shopping. They can be about your career or business outside of mystery shopping, your hobbies and interests or just about any non-controversial content.
Get your name on high-profile sites. These will show up near the top of the search engine results. And getting your name on those sites is easier than you may think. Here are several sites where you can easily create a good presence:
- Your own web site – Create a web site with information about you, your business or hobby. Register your name as your URL, such as CathyStucker.com.
- Blogger.com – Start a blog. Your blog can be up and running in minutes. Blogs have credibility with the search engines, especially when they are updated frequently (at least weekly).
- EzineArticles.com – Write a few articles on your favorite subject then set up an author account at EzineArticles. In addition to getting credibility from being on this site, your articles may be used by other web sites, giving you more of a presence. To get started, go to EzineArticles.com, then click on Submit Articles.
- Amazon.com – Create a profile on Amazon.com. You can then post reviews and other content if you wish. (Hey, why not post a great review of The Mystery Shopper’s Manual? Just a thought!) To set up your profile, go to Amazon.com, then click on (Your) Amazon.com, then Your Profile.
- LinkedIn.com – A business networking site, you can set up a profile and connect with others. Think of it as MySpace for business. Keep your profile strictly professional.
- Blogs and forums – Post thoughtful comments to popular blogs and forums.
- Media and Social Networking sites – Set up profiles and content at Digg.com, Flickr.com (photos), Technorati.com, YouTube.com (video) and other popular sites. Of course, make sure any content you post is appropriate and not damaging.
Once you have cleaned up your reputation, keep it clean.
Do not add anything to your internet presence that could be negative. That means not only your site, but forum posts, profiles, anywhere. Think before you post.
Remember that your blog, web site, MySpace profile, etc. may be visible to anyone. Do not put up anything you do not want seen by the world.
Even email should not be considered “private.” For example, many email discussion lists retain all posts in publicly accessible archives. Even email sent to one person may be forwarded by that person and end up somewhere you did not intend.
Monitor your presence.
Keep an eye on where you appear. Google offers a free tool to help you do this:
Google Alerts will email you with updates when the term(s) you specify turn up in Google results. You can set alerts for your name (and relevant variations), your blog name or web site URL, and other terms. To set up your Google Alerts, go to.
In addition, do a check of the search engines from time to time to see what results you get.
If you have a common name:
There are not many Cathy Stuckers out there, but what if your name is Mary Smith? How can you keep from being confused with someone else with a similar name?
Start right now to set yourself apart by establishing a specific naming convention you use online. For example, use your middle name or initial, a title (such as Dr.) if appropriate, a suffix (such as Jr.), etc. Instead of Mary Smith, you might be Mary L. Smith, M. Louise Smith, Mary Lou Smith, Mary Louise Smith, or some other version of your name that is uniquely yours.
Your reputation is your most important asset. Maintain its value by keeping it spotless.