Forget Digital Dirt – Think Digital Anything!

Is this your dirt? (props to for the picture)There’s been a lot of good conversation about digital dirt – this is the concept of “what bad stuff can be found about you by performing online searches?” Idealists say that just because an employer finds something bad it shouldn’t matter – after all, isn’t it discriminating (and thus illegal) to use digital dirt to keep from hiring you?

I’m not a lawyer but I’d guess it can be illegal (probably is). Here’s my take: there are lots of illegal or unethical things that happen behind closed doors. Just because it isn’t legal for an employer to discriminate against you based on digital dirt doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. So keep it clean.

Furthermore, you should do searches on your name to see what comes up. Here’s how you do it:

  • Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.
  • ZoomInfo
  • Jigsaw

Looks like this is getting to be a trend that has picked up steam. From TechCrunch today:

People search is a space that went from nowhere to crowded, fast. Wink changed direction and launched a people search product last November. Also in this space is Streakr (yet to launch), ProfileLinker, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo and Upscoop.

Want to take more control of what comes up when people search on you? The last time I posted on this topic I was introduced to Naymz (thanks Kent). There are services that claim to help clean up digital dirt, for a price. But I think there is one easy, effective way to get the job done: have a blog.

(start broken record player)

Yep, having an active blog may be the most effective way to claim the majority of search results when people are looking for information about you. When I started blogging almost a year ago the only results for “Jason Alba” where from the author of an accounting book, or for Alba Botanicals. Now the first page is usually about me and/or JibberJobber.

Other things to do to take over that first page of results:

  • Get an account, and create your resume on their site. I see a lot of people that have their Emurse profile in the top 5 results on their name. Hat tip to Nadine Turner for doing her own testing/reporting of this.
  • Get a Jobster account, and flesh it out. Search engines also love Jobster, and profiles usually score on the first page of results.
  • Get a LinkedIn account, and flesh it out. Again, LinkedIn profiles usually show on the first page.
  • Comment on other blogs and leave your “link” as any of the three that I just mentioned (preferably leave your blog URL but if you don’t have one then you should leave one of these three URLs). Many blogs don’t pass your link on to search engines (this is not a technical explanation… click here for more), but I think we’ll see a trend where blogs are more loving and let search engines see your link.

Michael Arrington (of TechCrunch) calls this space “people search.” Don’t think that a resume, cover letter and good interview will preclude you from someone doing a search on you.

How does your online persona look?

5 thoughts on “Forget Digital Dirt – Think Digital Anything!”

  1. I discovered that even incidental content can turn up… I recently had a 1997 website guest book entry fairly high in results when I searched my name.

  2. wow – 1997! That’s crazy. But it’s a good lesson – even stuff that we write on other pages can come back and show how smart we are.

  3. When you do a search for Carl Chapman, I’m third and fourth on Google from my corporate website and my profiles on and Linked in come in at 9 and 10 respectively. If you do Carl Chapman + recruiter you get pages and pages of nothing but me 🙂 and it all looks pretty good, articles by me on my blog and articles mentioning me on other blogs…

  4. Jason,

    You need to include ecademy ( in this list. ecademy has great web traffic and a profile on ecademy will land you on the first page of Google in just a few days, along with some blogging and other things.

    The other element is to make sure that you use the SAME name for everything. I used to have several versions: James, Jim, and sometimes with middle initial, sometimes not – this just confuses the search engines – Your Name Is Your Brand and it needs to be consistent. Search me now as Jim Rowland and I am # 8 on Google against a Jim Rowland Personnel in Atlanta, who occupies 1, 2, 9, 10, etc.

    Google me on Jim Rowland defense – I get the top 4 spots – but LinkedIn is not in there anywhere, its all ecademy and zoominfo – plus a paid advert for naymz on the right hand side

    Hope this helps others out there who are trying to establish a brand. – I will be blogging on this soon.

    Jim Rowland

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