Many of us try to be visible on the web, for our own reasons – a job search, client reach, fame… Individuals and companies spend a lot of time and resources while attempting to craft the best online presence strategy. Yet, before creating a strategy aimed at improving your online presence, it is important to assess what you currently have – and note the good, the bad, the existent, and the nonexistent – so you can focus your efforts where they will make the largest difference.
At first glance this concept might sound trivial, but when you start going over the list below, you are sure to find questions you did not think to ask before.
You can download a printable version of the list, to have beside you while you’re working in front of the screen, assessing your online presence.
By the way, this approach could easily be used in order to assess someone else’s online presence – a job candidate, for example – just replace the word “you” whenever you see it with “the person.”
Ready? Let’s go:
Assessing Your Online Presence – The List
If you’re doing the assessment about yourself, make sure you log out of all your social networks, to see what you “look like” to a stranger. You may also want to delete your cookies and cache so you start your online search “fresh.”
Google your full name.
- Is the first page of results relevant (about you)? If your name is “generic,” try to add things such as the city you live in, your profession, etc.
- Do all the results on the SERP (search engine results page) seem, at first glance, to support an overall value about you? What is the main theme reflected in the SERP? What words repeat other than your name?
- Without clicking on the links, try to write a small paragraph about the person (you) just by looking at the search results. This is an important thinking exercise – what individuals see in a search results page goes into their subconscious before they click on any of the links.
- Do images of you appear in the search results? What can you say about these images? Are they consistent with each other and with the image you want to present, or confusing? Are they showing a specific value? A corporate executive, for example, could benefit from having all of his or her pictures with a suit, while a fitness instructor will benefit from images showing them in a workout outfits, etc.
- If you want to, you can follow the same steps with other search engines, such as Yahoo and Bing.
Do you have a blog/website? If yes,
- In what position does your website fall in the SERP? Is it in the first top three? First page?
- Does the design appear to be professional?
- Objectively assess the content. What is the website about? Is there one theme or a few? Does it fit with the overall impression you got from looking at the SERP?
- Is the writing professional/casual/poor?
- Does the site give the visitor a “sloppy” feeling, containing broken links and 404 errors?
- How easy is it to contact you? In which ways can visitors connect with you? (Twitter, Facebook, email, etc…)
- If it’s a blog, do you allow comments? How do you treat comments? Do your posts generate a lively debate?
- When was the site last updated? How often does it seem to update?
- Does the site seem to have a large following/high page rank?
- What are your privacy settings? Can the public see what you want them to see, but not what you don’t?
- What is the ratio of personal to professional content?
- Try to take a third person perspective:
- What is the overall feeling that you get when you look at this person’s profile?
- Does the profile paint a cohesive picture?
- Does the profile make you feel like you want to meet/hire this person?
- Does the person have a lot of (valuable) contacts?
- Is there anything about your profile that is distracting/inappropriate?
- On Facebook, play with the “view as” option on your profile to see how it looks to specific people or the public.
- Pay special attention to items such as your “groups.” Groups can be a great tool to show your interests; however, friends will often add you to random groups without your permission. (I was amazed to see how many random groups I was part of when I ran this analysis! I was part of, for example, “yard sale this Saturday- everything under $20,” for a yard sale that took place over two years ago.)
- Do you get the same feeling about your image across all different social media profiles? This is especially important if you’re trying to present a very professional face online.
- Do you use the same avatar across all networks? If yes, does the specific avatar match your overall goals? If not, are specific avatars matching what you try to present across different social networks?
Articles about you
- Are the things written about you representing you in a positive light?
- Does any of the information in the first few SERP pages show incidents you would rather keep private, such as arrests, lawsuits, layoffs, etc.?
I hope you find this list helpful. Here it is in printer-friendly PDF format.
After going over this list and taking your notes, you are now ready to proceed in creating your online presence strategy.
Have additional ideas to add to the list above? What do you think is important in assessing your online presence?