In 2017, googling is a given. 72% of Americans look to the internet first when they need information, so it’s no surprise that 42% of people look you up online before doing business with you. What they find directly impacts their decision to hire or reject you.
From job offers to college acceptance letters, promotions to business partnerships and even first dates – search results for your name influence your life more than you may realize.
Follow this guide to make sure your Google results are maximizing your career opportunities and not losing you business.
What you’ll learn in this guide:
- The 9 key stages of your career when you’ll be looked up on a search engine like Google. Whether you’re a freelancer, job seeker or entrepreneur, you need to understand the pivotal moments throughout your career when people will vet you based on your search results online.
- The 49 risk factors that make people less likely to work with you. Discover what people identify as red flags when looking at your search results that make them lose interest and decide not to work with you.
- The 23 positive factors that make people more likely to work with you. Discover the essential elements people want to see when they look you up online to build trust and make them want to work with you.
- 10 tips for dealing with negative search results: Negative and irrelevant search results cost you. Here’s how to deal with them.
- The 3 tools and services you can use to maximize the effectiveness of your search results. Learn about the tools, services and do-it-yourself methods that can help you get the most leverage from your search results.
Part 1: The 9 key stages of your career when you’ll be looked up on a search engine like Google.
It’s tempting to brush off your reputation online as a minor point on your to-do list. But in truth, how you look online matters. If you want to build a meaningful career that fully unlocks your earning potential, then you need to pay attention to how you look on the web.
At every single stage of your career you’re being searched online:
- Applying to school: 29% of admissions officers Googled an applicant (Kaplan). 35% search students on social media sites. (Kaplan)
- Applying to entry level jobs: 75% of HR departments must look you up online. (Cross-tab)
- Applying to C-Level jobs: 77% of employers look you up online. (Source: Monster)
If you’re starting or running a business, you’re being searched online:
- Selling products/services: 42% of adults will look you up online before doing business. (Source: Harris Study)
- Hiring talent: 92% of potential recruits look you up online (Source, Jobvite)
- Getting press: 80% of journalists think search engines are one of the most important sources of information for their job. (Recherche 2016, eddielogic)
In your financial life, you’re being searched online:
- Buying/renting a home: 18% of landlords/etc. will look you up on social
- Borrowing money: Approximately 19.3% of adult Americans are credit invisible/have credit records that cannot be scored – online content and social media is a top alternative credit rating.
And even in your personal life, you’re being searched:
- Dating: 43% of online U.S. adults (that have searched someone online) have searched a potential date. (Source: Harris Study)
Part 2: The 49 risk factors that make people less likely to work with you
People are looking for red flags in your search engine results, or shortcuts that help them quickly decide not to work with you. We’ve made it our mission to find out exactly what those risk factors are so you can minimize them.
If you’re applying to school 29% of admissions officers will google you. (Kaplan) The following types of search results are those most likely to harm you. While the data is based on what admissions officers find on social media, the findings apply to search results. (Kaplan)
If you’re applying to school:
42% percent of admissions officers who check student social media accounts have discovered information that negatively affected an applicant’s prospects. (Kaplan Test Prep Survey, 2017)
Admissions officers look for these red flags about students online:
- Inappropriate behavior
- Illegal behavior
- Predictors of enrollment & success/failure on campus (using big data from social media)
- References to drugs, alcohol
- Content that’s sexual in nature
- Hostile speech and swearingWeapon-related content
If you’re applying to a job:
- Concerns about the candidate’s lifestyle: 58%
- Inappropriate comments and text written by the candidate: 56%
- Unsuitable photos , videos, and information: 55%
- Comments criticizing previous employers, co-workers, or clients: 40%
- Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39%
- Information about them drinking or using drugs: 38%
- Membership in certain groups and networks: 35%
- Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32%
- Lied about qualifications: 27%
- Poor communication skills: 27%
- Linked to criminal behavior: 26%
- Shared confidential information from previous employers: 23%
- Unprofessional screen name: 22%
- Lied about an absence: 17%
And it’s not just posts YOU’VE published. Employers reject candidates based on other people’s comments, posts and tags on the candidate’s profile, including:
- Inappropriate comments or text written by friends and relatives: 43%
- Inappropriate comments or text written by colleagues or work acquaintances: 40%
And recruiters are turned off by (jobvite):
- Profanity: 65%
- Spelling/grammar errors: 61%
- References to guns: 51%
- Overly religious posts: 28%
Before taking any drastic measures such as deleting social media accounts or deliberately changing your last name so no one can find you, pause and take a breath. Some recruiters might believe you just prefer to keep your private life private. But many will assume that you have something to hide. This is not the best idea.
Part 3: 23 positive factors that make people more likely to work with you
When it comes to making a good impression and landing new opportunities, it’s true, risk factors are not your friend. But once you’ve taken care of that, a strong positive presence is going to help you. People are also looking for positive factors to reinforce their decision to work with you. When it comes to your Google search results, you should aim to present a professional image of yourself. We’ve made it our mission to identify those factors so you can maximize them and accelerate your career.
The following positive factors are most likely to help you whether you’re applying to school, looking for a job, or attracting new clients.
If you’re applying to school:
47% of admissions officers who looked up potential applicants online say that what they found had a positive impact on students’ application efforts. (Kaplan)
These include examples of:
- Engagement on LinkedIn:
- 80% of students who included links to this profile and were looked up by a representative from the schools where they applied were accepted (according to a small study).
- Awards and honors
- Extracurriculars (especially those not mentioned elsewhere on the application)
One admissions officer said:
“One student described on Twitter that she facilitated an LGBTQ panel for her school, which wasn’t in her application. This made us more interested in her overall and encouraged us to imagine how she would help out the community.”
If you’re applying to a job:
86% of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals say that positive reputation online influences their hiring decisions. Nearly half say that a strong reputation online influences their decisions to a great extent. (From CrossTab)
- Information that supports their qualifications for the job: 61%
- If the candidate has a professional online persona: 50%
- Candidate’s personality came across as a good fit with company culture – 43%
- Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests – 40%
- What other people are posting about the candidates: 37%
- Candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications: 38%
- Candidate had great communication skills: 37%
- Candidate had a professional image: 36%
- Creativity: 35%
And two other studies provide additional factors recruiters like to see on social media profiles:
- Mentions of volunteerism or charity donations: 65%
- Professional memberships and affiliations: 4 out of 5
“Recruiters look for professional experience, tenure, hard skills, industry-related voice and cultural fit as part of the hiring process.” [jobvite]
PART 4: 10 tips for Dealing with Negative Search Results
Negative and irrelevant search results cost you. That’s why we’ve gathered some of the easiest steps you can take to keep them from damaging your reputation.
- Scan – Do a full audit for negative or irrelevant search results that come up when someone looks you up online. Search your full professional name, and your name with any other modifiers people might use, like your industry, company, or geographical location. Our DIY tool does this for you automatically.
- Diagnose – Identify the types of unwanted search results that come up, and where they are in the rankings. Search results that are closer to the #1 position are much more challenging than those farther down the page. Results coming from authoritative websites are also a challenge.
- Build – Instead of stressing out, come up with a strategy. We recommend that you follow our 3-step process for building a positive online brand.
- Monitor – Once you’ve built and established your online presence, you still need to maintain your properties so that they continue to rank well and provide high-quality and relevant information to visitors. Keep track of where properties you control are in relation to these damaging properties over time manually or using our software.
- Protect – In addition to monitoring your online presence, you must constantly take steps to protect yourself against future damages. By monitoring search result rankings regularly , you can build logical strategies to keep the first three pages of results positive and clean for your name. Start here:
- Build a foundation of high-quality websites & profiles
- Establish authority for your websites & profiles in search engines
- Maintain relevance by updating your websites & profiles over time
Other methods to deal with a negative search results for your name:
- Submit a takedown request
- Use our 3 step process to suppress the negative – best long-term solution for branding and defeating a negative search result.
- Hire a lawyer – this can be costly, and is not guaranteed to be effective.
- Contact the webmaster/original author of the post (proceed with caution, depending on your relationship to this person).
- Assert your right to be forgotten – this depends on where you live.
Part 5: 3 ways to improve your Google results
To maximize your earning potential, you must take control of your Google search results. The best way to do this is to minimize current risk factors and build positive factors for your personal brand. There are three ways to approach this process that will help you earn the income you deserve.
A. If you want to do it yourself, our Premium DIY tool makes it easier, faster and a lot more fun.
Our DIY tool walks you step by step through the process of building sites and profiles that you control. Our software shows users how to optimize their properties for search engines and site/profile visitors. As a Premium member, you also receive exclusive access to all of our BrandYourself University guides, giving you even more insight into ORM.
B. If you don’t want to do it on your own, our Managed Services will help.
Connect with one of our reputation advisors who will help you choose the best service offering to accomplish your specific needs. Call a Reputation Advisor at 646-863-8226 or schedule a consultation to discuss your options today.
What you post has the power to lose or win new opportunities, it all depends on what you choose to share.
C. Do it completely on your own. Feel free to create and/or optimize 20 properties of your own to start the process of cleaning up your Google search results. However, we urge you to look into how to optimize these for search engines, and stick to a regular schedule of updating your profiles according to best practices. Learn more in our post, “The 20 profiles you need to earn more money” or by checking out the free guides in BrandYourself University.