Directing Your Digital Identity

Admit it, you do it. Your friends do it. Probably most people you know do it.

Google Search for Don Schindler

My Google Search

You google yourself. You know, to see what comes up.

Sometimes when you do this, you find out there are a lot of people with your same name – there’s a “Don Schindler” that coaches women’s basketball in Wisconsin. He pops up in my Google Alerts (if you don’t have these set up, you should. Google simply emails you when they find something new about you on the internet.) a lot during their tournament time.

You might be very happy with what pops up on Google about you. Maybe you have some great photos out there, your facebook profile or twitter. Or maybe you are not so happy. Maybe there’s not much about you at all out there or maybe nothing about you (that would be hard to believe since the internet has been gobbling information about you and everything around you since it came into being). Or maybe it’s worse. Maybe there are things you don’t want people to see at all. That’s not a good thing.

But this is Google, right? You can’t really control what Google does about your online information. Or can you?

Well, I’m a big believer in feeding Google the information that I want Google to have about me. This way if people are searching for me – they find what I would really like them to find.

First, you need to do a good search on yourself or your farm. You’ll need to log out of your browser and you need to clear the browser’s cache because it is tracking your movement on the internet and it will bring up stuff that it thinks you need. Then do a search.

What comes up? Is it your facebook page? A mention in the local newspaper? Your website? Is everything up there what you would want to be seen if someone else was searching for you?

What if nothing was really coming up on you?

Feeding the Google machine about yourself isn’t that hard. You are probably doing it already via Facebook. The only problem is that a lot of what happens in Facebook, stays in Facebook.  The good thing is that Facebook is going to be opening itself up for search with the all new Facebook Graph Search.

If you want Google to find you, then you need to branch out into things google can see like:

  • A blog or website: I know having a website can be burden but you actually own the property compared to just “renting” space on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.
  • Linkedin: Linkedin is a powerful connection tool with over 200 million members but it’s benefits are also in search where it almost always displays for people’s names.
  • Twitter: Twitter is an easy way to put out content and have Google index it (it won’t get every tweet but index your name).
  • Instagram, Flickr, YouTube:Photo and video social networks work great for indexing your name to content that you are putting up.NOTE – get good photos of you on the internet associated to your name. It’s as simple as renaming your best photos don-schindler.jpg and putting them up on a website or blog.
  • Use your name with industry specific websites. Stop using thecooldude2012 as a username and just use your name like donschindler. If you are doing bad things and you don’t want people to know it’s you, then stay off the internet. They will find you.
  • Commenting: I like to think of commenting as a way to let people know who you are and to lead them back to where you live on internet (your blog or website or facebook page). The more comments you leave on other websites, the more people will get to know you.

I also have a slideshare deck on personal branding if you care to check it out – it has more insights (for a six hour class) but not a lot of text.

What tips do you have for getting Google to index you correctly?


Before recently becoming the SVP of Digital Initiatives for Dairy Management, Inc., Don Schindler was the managing director for University Communications at the University of Notre Dame. He managed the award-winning departments of print, web and multimedia.

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