2018 REPORT: How Your Google Results Impact Your Life (And What To Do About It)

Pete Kistler

Whether you’re applying to jobs, competing for clients, running a business or even requesting a loan, the majority of U.S. adults will now research you online first.

And what they find about you can make or break landing your next gig, client or investor.

So how do you make sure your Google results are maximizing your opportunities you deserve – not costing you?

You’re about to learn:

  • The 9 key stages of your career when you’ll be looked up in Google.
  • The 49 risk factors in Google that make people less likely to work with you.
  • The 23 positive factors in Google that make people more likely to work with you.
  • 10 tips for dealing with negative search results.
  • 3 tools and services you can use to maximize the effectiveness of your search results.

You’ll be looked up in Google every time you:

  1. Apply to school: 29% of admissions officers Googled an applicant (Kaplan).
  2. Apply to entry level jobs: 75% of HR departments must look you up online. (Cross-tab)
  3. Apply to C-Level jobs: 77% of employers look you up online. (Source: Monster)
  4. Sell products/services: 42% of adults will look you up online before doing business. (Source: Harris Study)
  5. Hire talent: 92% of potential recruits look you up online (Source, Jobvite)
  6. Get press: 80% of journalists think search engines are one of the most important sources of information for their job. (Recherche 2016, eddielogic)
  7. Buy/rent a home: 18% of landlords will look you up online.
  8. Borrow money: 19.3% of adult Americans have credit records that cannot be scored, and online content and social media is a top alternative credit rating.
  9. Date: 43% of online U.S. adults (that have searched someone online) have searched a potential date. (Source: Harris Study)

There are 49 known risk factors that make people less likely to work with you.

If you’re applying to a job, employers list these red flags:

(Sources: CareerBuilder and Job-Hunt):

  • Concerns about the candidate’s lifestyle: 58%
  • Inappropriate comments and text written by the candidate: 56%
  • Unsuitable photos , videos, and information: 55%
  • Comments criticizing previous employers, co-workers, or clients: 40%
  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39%
  • Information about them drinking or using drugs: 38%
  • Membership in certain groups and networks: 35%
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32%
  • Lied about qualifications: 27%
  • Poor communication skills: 27%
  • Linked to criminal behavior: 26%
  • Shared confidential information from previous employers: 23%
  • Unprofessional screen name: 22%
  • Lied about an absence: 17%

And it’s not just posts you’ve published that matter. Employers reject candidates based on other people’s comments, posts and tags on the candidate’s profile, including:

  • Inappropriate comments or text written by friends and relatives: 43%
  • Inappropriate comments or text written by colleagues or work acquaintances: 40%

And recruiters are turned off by:

  • Profanity: 65%
  • Spelling/grammar errors: 61%
  • References to guns: 51%
  • Overly religious posts: 28%

Source: jobvite

Some recruiters might believe you just prefer to keep your private life private. But many will assume that you have something to hide. When cleaning up your posts and images, I recommend showing at least some personality instead of whitewashing yourself.

There are 23 known positive factors that make people more likely to work with you.

If you’re applying to a job:

86% of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals say that positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions. Nearly half say that a strong online reputation influences their decisions to a great extent. (From CrossTab’s, “Online Reputation in a Connected World”).

According to CareerBuilder’s recent study and last year’s study, of the hiring managers who searched candidates on social media, this is what they were looking for:

  • Information that supports their qualifications for the job: 61%
  • If the candidate has a professional online persona: 50%
  • Candidate’s personality came across as a good fit with company culture — 43%
  • Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests — 40%
  • What other people are posting about the candidates: 37%
  • Candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications: 38%
  • Candidate had great communication skills: 37%
  • Candidate had a professional image: 36%
  • Creativity: 35%

And two other studies provide additional factors recruiters like to see on social media profiles:

  • Mentions of volunteerism or charity donations: 65%
  • Professional memberships and affiliations: 4 out of 5

“Recruiters look for professional experience, tenure, hard skills, industry-related voice and cultural fit as part of the hiring process.” — Jobvite

If you’re applying to school:

47% of admissions officers who looked up potential applicants online say that what they found had a positive impact on students’ application efforts. (Kaplan).

Colleges want to see examples of:

  • Leadership
  • Engagement on LinkedIn. 80% of students who included links to their profile and were looked up by a representative from the schools where they applied were accepted (according to a small study). Correlation is not causation, but qualitative interviews validate that this is 100% true.
  • Awards and honors
  • Extracurriculars (especially those not mentioned elsewhere on the application)

One admissions officer gave a great example:

“One student described on Twitter that she facilitated an LGBTQ panel for her school, which wasn’t in her application. This made us more interested in her overall and encouraged us to imagine how she would help out the community.”

If unwanted stuff shows up when people Google you, here are 10 tips to help minimize the damage.

  1. Scan: Do a full audit for negative or irrelevant search results that come up when someone looks you up online. Search your full professional name, and your name with any other modifiers people might use, like your industry, company, or geographical location. Our DIY tool does this for you automatically.
  2. Diagnose: Identify the types of unwanted search results that come up, and where they are in the rankings. Search results that are closer to the #1 position are much more challenging than those farther down the page. Results coming from authoritative websites are also a challenge.
  3. Build: Instead of stressing out, come up with a strategy. I recommend that you follow BrandYourself’s personal branding process.
  4. Monitor: Once you’ve built and established your online presence, you still need to maintain your properties so that they continue to rank well and provide high-quality and relevant information to visitors. Keep track of where properties you control are in relation to these damaging properties over time manually or using our software.
  5. Protect: In addition to monitoring your online presence, you must constantly take steps to protect yourself against future damages. By monitoring search result rankings regularly , you can build logical strategies to keep the first three pages of results positive and clean for your name.

Other methods to deal with a negative search results for your name:

  1. Submit a takedown request
  2. Use our 3 step process to suppress the negative — best long-term solution for branding and defeating a negative search result.
  3. Hire a lawyer — this can be costly, and is not guaranteed to be effective.
  4. Contact the webmaster/original author of the post (proceed with caution, depending on your relationship to this person).
  5. Assert your right to be forgotten — this depends on where you live.

This is just a very quick overview – to learn more, check out:

Here are 3 ways to improve your Google results and leave a great first impression.

If you want to do it yourself, BrandYourself’s Premium DIY tool makes it easier, faster and a lot more fun.

Our DIY tool walks you step by step through the process of building sites and profiles that you control. Our software shows users how to optimize their properties for search engines and site/profile visitors. As a Premium member, you also receive exclusive access to all of our BrandYourself University guides, giving you even more insight into online reputation management.

If you don’t want to do it on your own, BrandYourself’s Managed Services can help.

We’ve helped a million people improve how they look online over the last decade. If you nee help, you can always connect with one of our reputation advisors. They’ll explain your options. You can give BrandYourself a call and ask for help at (646) 863–8226 or schedule a consultation for whenever is convenient.

You can also check out what some actual users have said about it here at our BrandYourself Reviews on LinkedIn or our BrandYourself Reviews on YouTube.

Do it completely on your own.

Feel free to create and/or optimize 20 properties of your own to start the process of cleaning up your Google search results. However, you’ll need to optimize these for search engines, and stick to a regular schedule of updating your profiles according to best practices.

You can learn more here:

Pete Kistler

Written by

Pete Kistler is the co-founder of BrandYourself. His flagship software helps nearly a million people improve their online reputation.

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