Google Yourself: The Benefits of Having a Unique Name

Privacy can be hard to come by, and Google doesn’t make things any easier. Unless you’ve found a way to delete files and their backups, it’s pretty likely that anything you’ve ever uploaded to the Internet is available for the world to see. It’s just a matter of looking hard enough for it. That is why it is so important that you learn how to manage your online reputation.

The Assignment

For this week’s assignment, we had the task of Googling ourselves. I actually do this every once in a while just to see what information is out there about me. Fortunately, I have a pretty unique first and last name, so when you Google “Lynette Zilio”, the majority of the information that comes up is connected to me in some manner. When I Googled my name for this assignment, I wasn’t surprised to see that all nine results on Page 1 were of me. In fact, all of the results on pages 1-5 were of me. It wasn’t until I got to Page 6 that non-related search results started popping up.

The first three results on Page 1 referenced my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. I use Facebook more than the other two, and while I use Twitter more than LinkedIn, I have more information about me on LinkedIn, so I’m assuming that’s why it came up second in the results. Result 4 is a pdf version of my resume that I uploaded as part of a blog I created when I was a journalism major at the University of Florida. I’m guessing it appeared so high up in the results because it has a high page rank. What I had never noticed before was the Google+ box that popped up on the right-hand side of my screen on Page 1. At first, I was worried that my personal Gmail address could easily be found by people who were Googling my name, but then I realized that, thankfully, only I could see those results.

Google Yourself Page 1

Results 5 and 6 are my Google+ and Pinterest accounts. But result 7 from the WhitePages wins the creepiest award! Not only does it include my age range, but also full names of “people I may know”, including my mom, dad and sister. Results 8 and 9 are accounts that I set up for work.

Google Yourself Page 1 (3)

Google Images

The images that popped up when I Googled my name were either pictures of me, pictures that had been featured in newspaper articles I had written or pictures of people in my Google+ circles (Jason and Steven from our class made the cut!), which further emphasizes the importance of having a presence on this platform. In the fourth row of images, Google included pictures of people with my same last name, but I didn’t know any of them (Maybe they’re distant relatives. Who knows?).

Google Yourself Images

Googling my Email Address

When I Googled my email address, eight of the 10 results were connected to me somehow. Among these results were my Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, a website I used to write for called “The Stinc,” a “Denver Post” article I was featured in and articles I’ve commented on for work. The only result that really through me off was Result 9. I have no idea who Jikai Chen is or why I appear on his page, but apparently he also went to UF.

The two results that didn’t have to do with me were of people with my same first name. What I found most interesting was that my actual email address isn’t publicly shown on any of these pages, but simply typing it in Google generated these results. In other words, Google knows that that email address is associated with me.

Google Yourself Email Address

Google Yourself Email Address 2

Final Thoughts

Google is only as powerful as we let it be. If you’re careful about what you do when you’re online, it’s easy to maintain a good online reputation.

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8 thoughts on “Google Yourself: The Benefits of Having a Unique Name

  1. Great post Lynette! I always see White Pages entries on the first page, but have never clicked on them. I didn’t know it gave all of that information! Now I want to go back and see what’s on mine. I thought my name would’ve been unique too, but apparently there are other Steven Schiraldis in New York, where I’m originally from. I didn’t think to look at the images. That was a good idea and I’m glad I made the cut.

    • Hi Steven,

      Thanks for commenting! I had always seen WhitePages too but never noticed how much information was on there for the world to see. I had thought it would only list the full name of the head of your household. Very strange. Are you related to those other Steven Schiraldis in New York? I’m not sure how Google decided which Google+ images would make the cut, but it’s cool that yours did!

  2. Yes, the White Page results are pretty creepy, but they’re based off publicly available information. I was a bit disconcerted when I first looked at them and saw all the previous addresses I had lived at all the way back to my freshman year in college. That’s probably why my dad got a call at his house from the person organizing my high school class reunion.

    From the posts I’ve read so far this week it seems like we’re all pretty evenly split between wanting to keep a low profile to preserve our privacy and ranking at the top of the search results so that we get noticed for the right reasons.

    • Wow! The WhitePages can go back all the way to college? You’re right. A person’s name, address and age are all publicly available information, but it’s still weird to see them spelled out online. And I can see benefits to both preserving online privacy and increasing your SEO by building your online presence. But the fact is, we’re in a social media program, so having a social media presence is important. It’s our job to maintain our online reputation to make sure we’re presenting ourselves in the best light.

  3. I can relate to having a unique name, and I actually enjoy it. It takes away some of the hardships and competition of having a common name. It’s good you Google yourself somewhat actively. Monitoring your reputation online is becoming more and more important everyday. I actually think it is reflective of your real-life self.
    I know about White Pages, it’s crazy to see how your family tree, age, address and other private information is so out in the open. The thing about that is we can’t really control it, which is even scarier.
    You seem to have pretty good search results for your name, so that’s good. And as your final thought said, “be careful” with what you do online and your reputation will mirror it.
    Nice post!

    • Hi Gavin,

      Thanks for the comment! Having a unique name is awesome! It makes Googling yourself so much easier. You’re right that maintaining your online reputation is really important, but Googling your name every day or every week can be a really time-consuming process. That’s why I think it’s great that Google has set up Alerts so that we don’t have to constantly monitor this.

  4. Wow, five pages of Google, way to go, that’s impressive.

    I think it’s really interesting that your comments on Google+ accounts showed up in the images page of your results. I rarely use Google+ and after seeing that, it makes me a little more cautious to use the site since this can happen. Last thing I want is to make some silly comment on a photo and it show up in my carefully manicured search results!

    Businesses should be aware of this and plan their SEO strategy around this, expecting for comments like that to show up.

    • Yeah, I was really proud of myself for having so many pages related to my name, but I can’t say I did too much other than have a unique name and frequently publish content online.

      You’re right. Google+ is a really powerful social media platform! While it can be used for good to boost yours or your business’ SEO, it can also be used to damage your online reputation if you post something unprofessional on there. Companies should develop strategies to make sure this doesn’t happen to them.

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