How to Protect Your Online Image

As a college student, your online identity is in a vulnerable time. You should be working to make sure it’s what you’d like to present to future employers, professors, and colleagues, but at the same time, your friends probably want to share photos of you at the latest party. Here’s a guide to keeping a good online reputation while still having fun.

Google yourself. First things first, you need to see what you’re up against. If you have an obscure name, most of the results probably relate to you, but if you’re Jane Smith, they may not apply to you at all. Check out the links on Google to see what’s already out there on you and consider how satisfied you are with the results-you may want to find a way to change them.

Create quality content. Many top networking sites rank highly on Google, so by sharing pictures, writing, and other content that best represents you, you may be able to edge out other results that you’d rather not be associated with your name.

Join social networks right away. As soon as you hear about a new social networking site, jump on and claim your name before anyone else does. This way, you’ll be able to better control what’s said in your name, and won’t be mistaken for someone else.

Register your domain name. Check to see if your name is taken as a .com domain. If it’s not, snap it up as soon as you can. You can use this site to create an online resume, link to your best work online, and make sure that no one else can control this slice of the Web. If your name is not available, you can set up an alert to be notified when it comes up, or you can contact the owner to purchase it.

Make a Google profile. Most everyone will Google you first to find out the real story on you, so any way you can control your Google results helps. Using this profile, you can ensure that the links you want to share will be a part of the search results for your name.

By thinking carefully about managing your image, you can make a difference in the reputation that’s shared about you online. Taking a few simple steps can save you from embarrassment and missed opportunities later, so don’t hesitate to get started today.