The Google Yourself Challenge

Google challenge

When was the last time you googled yourself? If not recently (or indeed if you never have) then now’s the time to do this. Dismiss the idea that this is some sort of ‘ego surfing’ exercise. This is an opportunity to check what your online presence looks like to others.

You may not be aware of the many times you are searched for as an individual. This could be in the quest to find your contact details, information about your research/projects/teaching, or as a prospective employer to get an overview of your online profile. As social media use ranks highly anyone can quickly find your most recent activity. It is therefore important to understand what information you are sharing is private and  what is public; and also how this could impact on your career prospects and overall safety. Giving away too much personal information could result in a stolen identity.


Questions to ask yourself?

  • What do people want to know about you?
  • Where will they use this information?
  • Why is your profile important?
  • When and how often do you update it?
  • How will you use your profile to your advantage?

For many of us it is likely you will have a collection of online profiles which might include your staff profile on your employer’s website, clubs or societies, and social networking sites. It is the later that potentially needs the most attention. Some will be used purely for social and informal interactions and others for professional reasons. It is important that these are reviewed regularly to ensure your online presence there is seen in the best light irrespective of whether the profile is private to a circle of friends or public. Remember it is your reputation that is at stake. Let your profile work for you not against you!


Googling yourself

Take the time to ‘google’ yourself. The same process can be repeated with any other search engine of your choice.

  • Type your name in the search bar within quote marks as this will bring more accurate results
  • If you have a popular name, expand your search by adding further keywords e.g. your employer, town you live in


Taking control of your online presence

Checking the privacy settings on the sites you use is a must. For more information visit the Help/FAQ/Privacy Policy page of each website. It is important that you take the responsibility to understand how your information may be accessed or used.

Be aware that once you share information online, be this personal information or through posting comments/photos/videos, you have little control over who can see it and what individuals might do with it. It is quick and easy to screenshot (take a digital photograph) anything seen online and this becomes a permanent record despite the fact that you might choose to delete the information.

That said it is still worth investing time to ‘tidy up’ your online presence and remove posts or photos you are no longer happy with. You can also untag yourself from posts and set up measures to stop others tagging you if you wish to.


The infographic below highlights the key points to consider

Google yourself infographic




About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
This entry was posted in Digital Skills, Google, Tips and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Google Yourself Challenge

  1. Alastair says:

    Very timely post Sue. However I think we should also show people that you don’t need to search with Google. In fact to protect your online identity we should cut our dependence on Google and use search sites that don’t track us or sell or data to advertisers etc. Try Duckduckgo for example. It’s interesting to see what comes up when you seacrh for the same things on different sites.

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