Web presence, why you should build & improve it
I am sure you have done it, one or many times, Googled yourself, searched your name. In most cases searches will return pages that has no connection to you, don't contain any information whatsoever or at least nothing you consider representative. If you're a member of Social services like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. these will normally either rank on top or very high up on the result lists. Which is good, regrettably however so might also pages you don't want to find on search page one, two, three or for that matter .... anywhere.
But there are pro-active ways to mitigate the situation, read on to find out more!
Information that can have impact on real life
There are no surprises and it's not rocket science. You don't have to be a celebrity to feel an (unwanted) information impact. But if you are there's hardly anything I can contribute with you would not know better than me, am sure. There are plenty of unfortunate examples, or worst case scenarios, more than enough to startle most of us. Stories about people who have fallen victim to identity abuse, identity theft or mere slander, plagued and pursued by lies and falsities dominating the first pages of search results on a search engine. Hounded by negative, irrelevant, unfounded and heavily biased content that will not go away. Content you cannot make vanish, things that will compete with real, honest, truthful information about who you are and (very likely) what you do.
Sadly, much like in printed media, the bad has a lasting tendency to weigh heavier and stick firmer than the good, and much too often gets attention more than the positive. Unfortunate if for instance you try to promote yourself, get a job, apply for a job, or try to build new business associations. Though I cannot rule out that in some cases bad publicity is also good publicity. For most of us however, who move on Main St. , not so or quite the contrary.
"Everyone Google everyone", a 21'st century "spinal reflex", a trend that will not revert back to to the era of heraldic trumpeting, followed by loud crying of (selective) announcements in your hometown's squares, stone tablets or smoke signals sent from distant mountaintops. What shows up on the first 3 pages may thus strongly influence the impression someone will get of you. Right or wrong, for better or worse, that is how things work.
But I don't want to be found on the web....
Ok, then you're one of not too many, a dwindling minority, and thereby you literally put your [electronic] fate in someone else's hands. Bank on sustained anonymity, below-the radar pursuits, and that in a time when information growth is exponential and we all depend on faster, more accurate services all the time. Sooner or later your name or identity, may emerge, perhaps because you partook in a seminar, won a marathon or race for amateurs, a snooker contest, won a brilliant game of chess or bridge. Sooner or later figments of your identity will show up in Google, or another search engine, because your name happened to be on a web page, in an article, in a spreadsheet.
Today you only have to buy a property somewhere, and chances are sooner or later your name will be indexed. And where laws may exist to protect such propagation, it may also be a matter of time before erosion of private life, driven by a need-to-know basis, will wash away any regulatory bodies and regulation that hypothetically speaking could offer you some last line defense against the might of "Indexing Daemons".
In essence, the/a question remains, what will show up? Published by who and controlled by whom? If it's not you then.. who is it? A friend? Someone unbiased? Is the content beneficial, does it bring any advantages, does it mirror or reflect who you are, and what you represent? Maybe but that will depend on to what extent you've managed to duck under any radar. Allow me to say one thing here, what may have worked before will not necessarily work in the future. Nothing goes away because we close our eyes, although it may produce the illusion that right now, as I keep my eyes closed, it's out of sight.
We are the Borg, resistance is futile
... was not originally planned to be the paragraph title but as I was typing along it just appeared, it just hit me. Yet, the analogy works, or seems to work, please allow me to elaborate. So, The Borg are the search engines, or crawlers. They will index whatever they can, and the smarter they get, the greater their capacity, the faster and better their algorithms combined with erosion of regulations to protect your private life, which is an exponential (or retracting) development, the sooner information will leak out on the web, somehow, or somewhere. Information about you, beneficial or not, will be cached and stored somewhere, and there's not a force of this world or any force from yonder that can make it go away, or delete it.
Almost, rare cases are known where i.e. Google have removed someone, or something, from an index. Quite likely it would be easier and more effortless to build a spaceship and go visit other galaxies.
Essential question are to be asked, and answered; should we allow ourselves to succumb to the fictitious weight of this destiny, to give in? Is an anti-strategy, or no-strategy strategy, the surest way to in our quest to (feverishly) protect our (increasingly) public interests? Do we improve on our visibility by closing our eyes? Yes I know, rhetorical questions, which which the answer on all accounts is..... of course not!
Take control, take ownership, propagate & multiply
Yes, this is true, this is an answer, a response with considerable more power and effect than what meets the eye. Elaborate studies done over the course of the last decade, by people with impressive CV's, academic background and degrees, profound insight, research and dedication, have shown that the surest way to influence the result showing up, is by you taking ownership of the process. Don't (only) settle for a Twitter profile that occasionally spews out a few syllables, or a Facebook profile which largely consists of stuff you have absolutely no desire to share with whoever.
Do it yourself, do it with your family! Maybe get some help in the beginning, or find someone you trust. Buy domain names, your names, relevant names. Set up smart, yet simple to use Content Management Services, or web sites. Publish material that has consistency, relevancy and accuracy to compare with that you want to reflect on the web. In fact, make it a family strategy, link in-between the websites, cross-references going back and forth between the pages. Although much of the math remains a secret with regards to how, specifically, a search engine like for instance Google ranks information, what is certain is that the methodology is based on gaging and weighing content by several parameters.
Back in the old days use of meta-information was considered to be the surest way to improve your ranking. But today the complexity of the mathematical, or vocabulary models that produces the dynamics of the web, of search results, ranking and what have we, are vastly different. By carefully planning information, publications, cross-site references and desirable content with ditto cross-relevance, you will increasingly take control over what shows up on the first, and later the second, or third search result pages.
This is however not an exercise with a beginning nor end, this is a process, and an activity you will have to maintain. However, if you receive the right advices, and ally yourself with the right people, there are various way to both control, develop the flow of information with it having to digest or consume too much of your otherwise valuable time. And the result? Gradually your pro-activity will foster results, real tangible results. Ands the positive, the accurate, non-biased content will take precedence on any search page. The negative or biased will not go away, it will no longer dominate, or confuse the picture.
Ok, this blog got a lot bigger, longer and more comprehensive that originally intended. Maybe it was an overkill but somehow it felt right. I might return to the subject in a later blog, and be more specific about methodologies, principles and solutions to the above debated and discussed. So, thank you for reading, if you have any questions, OR... if you feel some of the above has more than a fleeting moment's relevance, contact is (always) an option. Cheers.