Go on, Google yourself!

Was it a vanity thing, maybe you wanted a little ego boost, were you having a bit of an identity crisis or you were a Google virgin and it seemed liked a good place to start! However you came to “Google Yourself” isn’t really important now, because once you have typed your name in and clicked the search button you’ll find yourself in a world of freakish oddity.

Every click from there after, you’ll find facts, figures and pictures which will be both familiar, interesting and comforting and others which are completely unrelated, randomly warped rubbish that is so peculiar you’ll never be able to look at some things in the same way again.

So why the reason for this blog? Apparently, ‘Paul Chisholm’ (me, hello!) was the 2nd most popular search term used to access our site in the first few weeks of January! Unfortunately (I guess for my ego) most of the users didn’t really tend to hang around and stay on the site for long when they came in from that route.

This led me to thinking how important our online identity is. What measures should we be taking to protect it? Should we all be taking steps to repair or even enhance our online persona? But more importantly, out of personal curiosity, I really wanted to see the results I got back when I ‘Googled myself’.

Let’s face it, your name is everything! You use it every day. It’s amazing how a name, with a few extra details can get you so much when sitting in front of your computer… your weekly shop at Tesco, a loan, a drivers licence, an acre on the moon or even a wife! Your friends,  colleagues and clients use it on a daily basis (my mum definitely over used it when I was a kid). In fact the only person I know who doesn’t use it is my wife. She has a whole host of other names she calls me but that’s a completely different blog.

So in an ever expanding digital world, where identity fraud is the fastest growing crime on the planet, your name and a few details in the wrong hands can cause you so much trouble and worry you must protect it at all costs. I use to have the “It’ll never happen to me-syndrome” but just last week somebody hacked my wife’s Hotmail account, got her eBay details and tried to buy thousands of pounds worth of stuff in her name.

Keep your identity and details safe by following a few simple steps:

1. Change your passwords regularly.
2. Keep your emails safe. Delete security records from your computer or email account.
3. Always use protection software on your computers.

It’s not the most groundbreaking advice, but a couple of little changes and a bit of care can stop identity fraud without any extra hassle.

On the flip side, your online identity can really change your career prospects and what’s going on in your personal life. Anybody who can turn on a computer is now able to do quick background check / cyber-stalk on whoever they wish by simply Googling a name or checking popular social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.

So, whether you’re gearing up for a chance of a lifetime job interview or maybe going on a first date with the hotty from your local Starbucks, you need to make it a priority to know what the web has to say about you. Let’s be honest, you really don’t want either a new boss or potential suitor to see you in a compromising photo your best mate took on a messy night out in Faliraki back in the 90s… or maybe you do.

All of those skeletons can now be dealt with by a host of new companies which are offering a service to polish and shine your online reputation. Making sure you bag that job or get invited around to meet the parents. They are able to boost your profile by creating hundreds, even thousands of links between third party websites and positive content about you, for a nominal fee.

This has been done for a number of years to help boost business profiles on Google. But now individuals are adopting this service to clean up their online persona. I guess it’s a little bit like making a visit to a plastic surgeon or getting your teeth fixed. Minus the pain and scares. Apparently business is booming. That nominal fee has now substantially inflated, and can often reach 5-6K+ and yet it’s regularly paid to buff up an online ego. What a job!

Finally, a quick look at some of the amusing stuff I found on ‘Paul Chisholm’ which is out there for all to see in Cyberland, simmering quietly online.

Paul Chisholm is ranked the 26th best-performing CEO in the world

Paul Chisholm makes art out of pencils

Paul Chisholm has a website about websites

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