Obviously we’ll talk about this in much greater detail later on, but suppose you have virtually no buget, such as a student for whom something negative gets posted and re-posted on-line. The kind of thing that might come back to bite you when you look for a first job out of college. Here’s what I would advise that you can do for yourself in one or two evenings:
1. Sign up for a Google alert for your name along with the offending key phrase. Set it to email you “as it happens” so you’ll get an email every time your name and negative phrase is mentioned, so you can see how you’re doing.
2. Get social! As a student you probably already are, but go in and clean-up that MySpace or Facebook page. Take down anything vulger or childish and especially undesireable photos (although they never actually go away). If your social sites are not in your actual name, then start new pages with your real name at Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Google Profiles, and Squidoo. Simply follow the instuctions on each one. Doing all of them shouldn’t take longer than an hour or two, but spread this out over at least two or three nights, but better yet over a week. Search engines don’t want to think they are being spammed.
3. Original content. When it comes to your bio or other content that you insert into the social sites, make absolutely certain that you don’t copy and paste the same text from one site to another. Search engines will severely penalize you for not being original. Just make sure you change each one up a little bit. Or a lot is fine too. This is especially true for other links and web sites you create later on.
4. Buy your own domain. It’s easy. Go to http://godaddy.com and search for your name as a “.com” domain (such as “www.johndoe.com” or “www.johnwdoe.com” and buy the name! You can usually buy the name for $10 or less. This is valuable web real estate that you’ll want to own forever. Buy it before someone else does!
5. Create a website. While you’re at GoDaddy, sign up for web hosting of your domain (under $5/month for a basic site) and be sure you that you sign up for WordPress (for free) as the web page software. Thaat’s why I recommend GoDaddy. The site will take care of all the work of downloading WordPress to your new web domai for you. WordPress is used universally, is free, is exceptionally easy to learn right away, yet is is also extremely powerful, has unlimited themes to create your site in minutes, and has thousands of really cool and useful “plug ins” (you’ll learn about his later, trust me.)
7. Content. Have fun learning and it’s far easier than you might think. But you need content. Create a bio page, or a page about your favorite interest perhaps, or an article that has been printed about you if you have one or two, and of course a contact page. Content is king, so try to find anything recent, and of course accurate! Each tab you want on your site is called a “Page” in WordPress. Even a three page website is fine for now.
For good measure create links to your social sites such as Facebook and Linked In. Then on all of your social sites put n alink back to your web page. Google search programs want to see that your site is linked to other sites and vice versa (showing that your website is “popular.”)
8. Start a Blog. Start a blog page on your domain using WordPress. Each blog entry is called a Post (as opposed to pages). It’s is simplicity itself to create a quick, short blog entry. Try for maybe 100 words, about a subject that interests you. Once or twice a week is fine. Or once a month. What you are doing is keeping your website fresh which is a key criteria that the search bots are looking for. Soon your page will be rising further up the list of search results, hopefully to the first page of results when you search your name. And “pushing down” the negative infomration to below the first page of results. That’s the goal.
9.) Search Engine Optimization. One reason to use WordPress is my favorite — the “All-in-one-SEO” plug-in. Go to “Plug-ins” section in your WordPress dashboard, look it up by name and then select it. It will download and install itself! How cool is that? This gives you boxes where you can fill in a page title, page description and keywords for each page of your website that will all go into the internal coding of the site — without you having to be a programmer. Here’s where you’ll use your creativity to make sure the search engine “bots” find you and your important keywords. So give it some thought.
10. Keep working. Negative posts don’t disappear overnight, but if they are not too severe or too widespread, the steps above may be all that it takes. But your long-term success depends on being persistent and also creating fresh content. Make a point to update one of your social sites or your web page every so often, and to post a new blog item each week or two if you can.
Best wishes. — Don Martin