Googling Yourself…Not just for vanities sake

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A few weeks back I blogged on the Social Media Penguin Blog about why we shouldn’t be ashamed of a little ego surfing every now and again. I’m now posting this again in full here in case any of you missed it.

Social media combined with search engine listings has given rise to an interesting phenomenon known as Egosurfing or “Googling yourself”. This basically involves using search engines to search the internet for mentions of your name or things associated with you like your blog or Twitter name. It’s a nice little ego boost to know that should anyone ever choose to enter your name in to a search engine that its actually you right up top, but googling yourself doesn’t have to be all about massaging your ego.

Kelly Forbes...not a murderer honest!
Kelly Forbes...not a murderer honest!

Perhaps you are being a bit vain and want to know what people think of you, nothing wrong with that, however heed a word of caution. Googling yourself for vanities sake doesn’t always give you the boost to your “epeen” you were hoping for. As you can see from the picture above there is always someone more famous (or infamous in this case) than you. (I’d like to assure readers at this point that I have never been married nor have I committed any acts of murder so the top and bottom entries here are not me.) You should also be prepared for any negative comments when ego surfing as Peter Mannion in The Thick of It discovered “it’s like opening the door to a room where everybody tells you how sh*t you are!” Opening that door can have some serious knocks to your self esteem so, if you aren’t thick skined or good humoured, think twice before you hit that button.

The video above by Alec Brownstein is one brilliant example of how easy it is to exploit humanity’s inherent vanity for your own means. Using Google Adwords he purchased the names of several creative directors at 15 cents ppc each and set up an ad encouraging them to hire him and check out his website. Of the 5 guys he set up ads to target he got interviews with 4 them and job offers from 2 (accepting a job with Y&R New York.) Since the story was published on Mashable there are probably a lot more people trying this out, hoping for a job. It’s certainly a different way of getting yourself noticed and, though it’s not exactly an innovative idea anymore, it will probably still gain you a cursory glance at your website or CV. But who’s to say this only applies to jobs? This could just be how you catch the attention of your dream woman, though if youre hoping to get a competitive price on “Angelina Jolie” on Google Adwords I’d think again.

However if you think you are the only person googling your name, think again. Potential employers are just as likely to be checking your online persona along with a CV so pre-emptively googling yourself is actually a wise move. Some social media platforms (Facebook being the one that readily springs to mind) have previously changed their default privacy settings and kept it on the quiet, meaning the information you previously thought was private could be much more public than you think. Googling your name is an easy way to find out just what kind of public persona you’re giving off (wow those pictures of your 21st birthday are colourful aren’t they?) letting you to find any potential issues before someone else does. This doesn’t just apply to those seeking employment, there have been reported cases, like the plight of Kimberley Swan, of people getting fired for things they have said and done on social media. So if you do google yourself and something crops up that you’d rather not have your boss and the rest of the world see, Mashable have a simple “how to” guide which will walk you through making your profile more private.

There is some good news to be had in all of this, if you are googling yourself, you’re not alone. A fascinating survey from the Pew Research Centre on how people manage their internet identity has thrown up some interesting numbers. 57% of adults questioned stated they had have used an online search engine to look up their own name, a 10% rise from 2006. What’s more, 63% of these people who were googling themselves found relevant personal content in their search. Unsurprisingly there has also been an increase in people creating profiles on social networking sites, with 46% of those questioned stating they had done so in some capacity, up 26% from 2006. Of those using social media, 65% have changed privacy settings to limit the information shared. Interestingly there is no information on just how often people are doing it, perhaps because even the most narcissistic of those among us would lie through the teeth when asked.

Good news all round then, not only are we googling ourselves more but we’re becoming more savvy to self promotion online, we’re doing it with more thought to how others will perceive the information and taking steps to cultivate a more polished image of ourselves.

Well you’ve nothing to lose now by giving it a whirl, so go ahead and google yourselves just be sure to report back here if you come up with anything funnier than my rap sheet.


2 thoughts on “Googling Yourself…Not just for vanities sake

  1. I’ve heard about Googling yourself to monitor your own personal brand, but after reading about Alec Brownsteins’s video I started a LinkedIn Poll – “Do you regularly Google your own name?” I has been collecting responses and it will be interesting to see the results when we have more responses. To vote, go to

  2. Laura Barnet…not commissioning editor on The Guardian’s Arts desk

    ok so not as dramatic as not being a murder I know.

    I have googled myself before and have peogled(?) myself and others on // and their telephone number search tool.

    I’ve just noticed this has changed since I last used it so not sure if it does much more than a straightforward google search now. Would need to play about with it and lunch is calling.

    Laura Barnet…also not Laura from the Barnet Football Club

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