You do it to them. You know they’re going to do it to you. But what can you do about a photography buyer Googling your name before they hand you a commission or buy your photos?
And most importantly, what can you do to make sure that results they get will land you the gig rather than destroy their trust?
If your name’s John Smith, then you probably don’t need to do much at all. The chances that the buyer will find you among all the other John Smiths are pretty small. Your background and your Web habits will be safely camouflaged.
Everyone else though has to build their own camouflage.
That’s because once your name has been indexed on a Web page, it’s just about impossible to remove it from Google’s search results. If you once placed a comment on a forum flaming a client — and regret it — for example, that comment will remain there for the world to see. What you can do though is make it hard for the world to find it, and at the same time make sure that what they do find shows you in a good light.
Clients aren’t going to look very far, so even if you can’t choose which pages appear on search results, choosing whether a particular page appears on the first screen or the twentieth by putting other pages above it can make all the difference.
The best way to bury bad Web appearances and replace them with good ones then is to build your own website. That’s worth doing anyway. Get the search engine optimization right, build links (hey, we didn’t say it was simple or fast!), place your name on plenty of pages and you’ll be easy to find — and in a way that’s right for you. You’ll have total control over the content.
Blogs can work easily too, especially if you put your name at the top of each post. Anonymity on blogs can be a good thing but choosing which posts to associate your name with can help control your online branding.
Comments at the bottom of articles can have the same result. Even they can turn up on a Google search so make sure that the comments that carry your name are intelligent and helpful, and not one-word raspberries.
And of course, there’s always Flickr. Your Flickr page is likely to turn up in a Google search and so might any Flickr Groups you’ve joined. So join some but make sure that they’re professional and that your forum contributions are too.
It’s easy to forget when you’re online that anyone who knows your name can see what you’re doing. Being careless about where you leave your name can cost you work.