The Hidden Secret To Managing Your Identity On The Internet

Update: Click here for a great infographic and helpful video added to the end of this post

Google has a search engine devoted just to you. It’s true. For example, here’s mine. And Google changed how it works just a few weeks ago (on 1-12-2012).

It’s based on tracking your identity on the web. So read on to make sure you’re up-to-date on how this works

Executive Summary: If you want Google to find all you do and rank it highly, from your Google+ account, use “Edit profile>Other profiles” to add all your profiles (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), add the email you use when contributing content under “Edit profile>Work email” and/or use “Edit profile>Contributor to” to add everywhere you contribute content. You can also gain control of content by posting website links back to your profile via a Google+ badge or by adding a snippet of code.

This special search influences ALL other search results that have anything to do with you, because of how something called “Authorship markup” began affecting web search in early June of 2011. And this has nothing to do with whether Google has verified you or your organization. So this is essential for both individuals and organizations to get a handle on.

In this post I’ll tell you how to find the search engine about you, and how to make it return the results you want by managing your Google identity. Of course, if you do NOT want to appear in Google search results, or you just want some things you’ve written not to appear, that’s a different situation, and you might want to read “Dealing with Negative Information About You or Your Business Online” (includes a nifty infographic).

What’s Google Doing With Your Identity?

Why should you care?

Because regardless of whether you want to hide or be seen, manage your identity or let it happen without your knowledge, you DO want to know what the internet’s main search engine is doing with your name and identity! It’s your digital fingerprint on the web.

If you use a Google product such as gmail or Google plus, you have a Google profile already.  Google uses it to determine who you are on the web, and what to tell people about you. The key is this:

Special links to or from your Google profile determine your identity.

What is a Google Identity Anyway? How Do I Manage It?

If you need an introduction, read what is my Google profile? first. If you already have a Google profile, start by logging into your Google Dashboard (didn’t know you had one? Here’s a video introduction) or Google+ profile before continuing.

How To Manage What Google Knows About You

So that Google recognizes the different things you do around the web as “you” and displays them in search results, here’s how you can create (if desired) the links that Google uses to understand your web identity.

Any place you create content on the web can show up as being by “you” in Google search results (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, etc.) So you can link to those places from your Google profile or link from them to your Google profile (or both).

How Your Email Might Be Identifying You Already

If you’ve ever commented on a blog and used your email in the comment (or had it used automatically by one of a variety of login/authorization services) you’ve seen the picture/avatar you’ve chosen appear next to your comment. This is an example of using your email in a non public way (people can’t see nor spammers steal your email address).

So a few weeks ago, Google added a new, simplified method that involves managing your email to identify yourself, and affect what shows up in a Google search about you.

Particularly for guest bloggers, it’s the simplest way to manage your identity. Scroll to the bottom of this page and click “New! Option 1″ for directions. However, you might not be able or want to use your email in all cases, so read on for how to link to or from sites where you have profiles or contribute content.

How To Connect Content To Your Google Profile

Linking TO sites

Simply add sites where you contribute or have profiles to your Google+ page.

  1. ADD PROFILES: Click the blue “Edit profile” box at the top right of your Google+ page and then click the gray “Other profiles” box at top right to add sites that you have identities such as Twitter.
  2. ADD SITES YOU CONTRIBUTE TO: In the same right-hand column as the “Other profiles” look closely for the “Contributor to” link and add those sites there (for example, places that you have guest blogged). It’s a very faint gray color, so look closely.

Linking FROM sites

If you don’t always want to use your email to identify yourself, here are Google’s guidelines for how to link to your profile from single- or multi-author blogs and sites (whether content pages or author pages), with specific WordPress tips, including how to test profile and publication links. In many cases it’s as simple as adding Google’s profile button to your site or author profile.

How Can I See The Special Search Engine About Me?

This is what Google considers an “author search.” You could just carefully edit the URL to find yours, but yesterday the awesome @DohertyJF posted about how you can simply drag a bookmarklet into your browser bar whenever you’re at someone’s Google+ page to open the Google search engine about them. I highly recommend you read it here. If you find adding a bookmarklet confusing, read these instructions.

What About Getting Verified By Google?

If 1,000 or more people have added your commercial (organization, brand, or product) Google+ page to their circles, you can apply for verification once your G+ page links to your organization’s website, and the website links back via a Google+ badge or by adding a snippet of code.

Even then, verification is NOT guaranteed. For example, a celebrity would also need to be considered a “commercial brand” to be eligible.

Back to top

AuthorRank Infographic

infographic design by BlueGlass Interactive.

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