We all have digital footprints. Some are active and some are passive, some are disguised through VPNs and proxy servers, and some are bigger than others. My digital footprint and your digital footprint are very different, but we both have them. It’s unavoidable.
By now, you’re probably asking, “What is a digital footprint?” Google’s digital footprint definition calls it “the information about a particular person that exists on the internet as a result of their online activity”. Every time that you log on to the internet and start to browse the web, the size of your digital footprint increases.
The good news is that it’s only natural for us to have digital footprints, and there’s not necessarily any cause for alarm. We just need to make sure that we’re keeping an eye on our footprints and making sure that they represent us in the best way possible. But enough with the digital footprint facts. Let’s take a look at how you can manage them.
Tips for Students to Manage Their Digital Footprints
Googling yourself is a great way to see what other people are seeing if they’re searching for you. It’s difficult to actually change what shows up because you can’t control the search engine’s algorithms, but you can often update the results. For example, if your old MySpace page is surfacing in the results pages, you can log in and make sure that you’ve removed anything inappropriate.
People judge other people based on the way that they write, so if your digital footprint is riddled with typos and grammar mistakes, it’s going to reflect badly upon you. That’s why it can be worth working with services like essay ontime to make sure that you’re represented in the best possible light.
Use the grandma rule
The grandma rule is a quick and easy rule to help you to make sure that everything that you post is safe for work and that it represents you in the best possible light. All you need to do is to ask yourself whether you’d say what you’re about to say in front of your grandma. If that doesn’t work, you can also ask yourself whether you’d say it in front of a potential boss at a job interview.
Use a plagiarism checker
Plagiarism can reflect badly on you, but it can also get your website flagged for duplicate content and potentially lead to it getting removed from search engine results pages. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a plagiarism checker URL and to carry out rewrites where needed to make sure that your content is unique to you.
Don’t forget images
When we’re looking into our digital footprints, there’s a temptation to focus only on written content, whether that’s social networking updates or whether it’s old blog posts and third-party websites that have talked about you. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your work is done once you’ve finished that. Take the time to look at image results and to make sure that you’re happy with what’s being displayed there, too.
Check what other people are saying
These days, your reputation is made up by what other people are saying just as much as by what you’re saying about yourself. Take the time to search what other people are saying and pay particular attention to comments and @mentions. It’d be a shame if you put all that work in to make sure that your digital footprint is as professional as possible only for your mate Dave to tag you in some dodgy photo from his stag do.
Tackle both extremes
The chances of people coming across posts in the middle of your timeline are much slimmer than that they’ll start from either one end or the other. That said, bear in mind that any post could potentially show up in search, and if someone’s specifically out to get you or trying to dig dirt up on you, they might look a little deeper.
Now that you know how to manage your digital footprint, the next step is for you to go ahead and get started. The good news is that by following the concepts we’ve shared here and by picking up some of the tools that we recommend, you should be off to a good start. Before you know it, your social media footprint will become one of your greatest assets instead of a simple afterthought. Good luck.
John Landrum is a personal branding specialist and digital consultant. He specializes in working with students, young professionals and entrepreneurs to manage their digital footprints. When he’s not writing or working with his clients, he can usually be found reading non-fiction books and cheesy sci-fi novels.