Maybe it was a youthful indiscretion. Maybe it was someone catching you off-guard. Maybe it was that time you stupidly posted eight different photos of you on the “My friend’s getting married, I’m just getting drunk” group on Facebook.
Regardless of why you did it, the fact remains that that is what’s showing up on Google whenever someone searches for your name, and you’re just getting ready to launch your new job search. What can you do?
Reverse SEO helps push down unwanted search results about you off Google’s front page. It puts good information that shows you at your best, not the times you went on an anti-government rant on someone else’s website, or a video of you doing Jello shots at Spring Break. Here are five ways you can reverse SEO that negative content off the front page and get the information you want back up there.
1. Delete the negative content.
This won’t automatically remove from the Internet, because here’s always a chance that it’s been picked up elsewhere, but delete as much of the negative content as you can. This won’t guarantee it won’t be found, but it will make it that much harder. Also, set any Facebook settings so that only friends can see photos, and delete any photo tags of you that don’t fit your personal brand.
2. Create a blog.
If you’re a regular practitioner of personal branding, you should already have one. If you don’t, get one. If you do, and the negative stuff is still winning search, then start optimizing your blog better. Put up interesting content that people will want to read. Include videos and photos, and write as much stuff as you can. A blog is SEO candy to search engines, so feed them as much as you can.
3. Put up some videos.
The number two search engine? YouTube. Put videos up on your YouTube channel and point to them from several different websites and social networks. Embed them in Facebook and on your blog. Videos get a lot of SEO juice, so using them in your personal branding will help immensely. Be sure to practice video SEO too — keywords in the title and description, as well as a backlink to your blog — in order to help the videos win search. (Remember, anything you can get to appear above your unwanted content helps, and videos show up high on Google search results.)
4. Create a Picasa or Flickr account.
Photos are the next best things to videos when it comes to outside content that is linkable and indexed. Set up an account on either Flickr.com or Picasa. I prefer Picasa because it’s owned by Google, and I can just tie it in to everything else I’m doing on Google. Embed those photos on your blog and in Facebook again, and share them with people.
5. Guest post on other blogs.
Not only does this help with your own SEO backlinking efforts, the guests posts will often show up in Google searches as well. Write some interesting and valuable posts on more popular blogs, and you can get some great SEO juice that helps blow that unwanted stuff away.
Finally, to make sure you’re getting completely accurate results, sign out of Google before you search for your name. That will be as close to Google’s “objective results” as you can get, and the same results someone else will find the first time they ever search for you.
Reverse SEO is an ongoing process and is going to take a lot of effort. It’s not something you can knock out on a Sunday afternoon in a couple of hours. And of course, your best bet is to not do the things now that you’ll be ashamed of later. But if you do, just know that there are ways to get that stuff hidden away.
Erik Deckers is the owner of Professional Blog Service, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself. His new book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, which he wrote with Jason Falls, is in bookstores and on Amazon now.