So when I say to you, "Go Google yourself," I am not making a derogatory statement.

What I am saying is Google knows and retains all that you have done and said online. If you don't want Google in your data, well… Don't get online. Sure there are things that protect you from "privacy" concerns. You can turn off your data sharing and your participation in Google's customer feedback programs. You *can* do all that. (Actually I'd be much more concerned about Facebook using a picture of you in some random ad on your friends pages. If you need help turning up the Facebook privacy selections, that we can help you with.)

Google on the other hand, with the recent inclusion of real-time search (meaning they are getting Twitter updates as they happen and displaying them on their results pages) the circle is complete. Google has everything you do.

As long as you are aware of that, no worries. But any illusion you have of keeping your Facebook account and your Linked-In accounts fire-walled, well, those are simply not possible. And let me show you why.

SERP is a search optimization term meaning Search Engine Results Page. So let me give you an example of a SERP on someone famous. Say, my favorite entrepreneur, Steve Jobs. Let's see what we get when we simply Google "Steve Jobs" and APPLE. Adding Apple just to target the content a bit more focused.

Steve Jobs search results in Google

Wow, 20.8 million pages. Okay. What I like a lot is a bit further down the page:

Steve Jobs and Apple image results

Okay, so with Steve it is easy to see how a lot of people would be interested in information about Steve. So your results may vary.

Now let's indulge *me* for a second and look at my SERP and I will show you how the two universes of professional and private will never be separated again, as far as Google is concerned. And then we will discuss what you need to know and do to keep your Google SERP in good shape.

John McElhenney's Google SERP results, March 26, 2021

Again, your results might be much larger or smaller than mine depending on your activity. But here's what I want you to see.

In the olden days, pre-2008 say, your resume was your calling card. Simple things like where you went to college, did you graduate, what degree did you get and what jobs and responsibilities have you had in the past were all somewhat crafted by you. And of course you put the best spin on every possible detail. NICE.

Today when I get a new business contact, either through networking, or as a potential new client, I Google them. And what I get, for the most part is a Google googles view of their expression on line. I get to see who they are connected to on Linked-IN. I get to see what sites they publish on, or comment on in the blogosphere. And I get to see their Facebook and Twitter activity. And here's the kicker. I can see ALL OF THEIR FACEBOOK and TWITTER activity.

So this is why so many younger workers are being advised to be careful about what they say or do online.

And if, like me, you are working to make a name for yourself in social media, no party pictures will ever go away, so be careful what you share with your phone camera. Even Flickr and Picassa are indexed.

So here's what I advise.
  1. Google Yourself. And do it often.
  2. Set up a Google Search Alert. That way when Google notices something new that you've done online, you get an email making note of the event.
  3. Clean up what you can.
  4. Write with precision and passion. But be aware that EVERYTHING you write will be searchable, index-able and retrievable for the foreseeable future.
And then the best thing you can do is take control of your Google SERP. If you are in social media, then you need to be publishing. If you are IN social media and are "working the web" and you are interested in working for a company that does social media you'd better be able to show that you have been on Linked-In for more than a month. And that your participation online is more than a Facebook party montage once in a while.

Here's the rule. Everything you say and do online can and will be collected in your Google SERP. So keep it clean. Know your Google SERP, publish more content to increase your Google love, and be aware of everything you publish.