We'd like to think that only what we post on our social networking accounts matters. Unfortunately, this is far from true. When people Google your name, does a post you're tagged in rank higher than any of your own stuff? Why?
Because one of the things Google algorithms use to create page ranking is how many shares the article or post received. If you're tagged in a post that was liked and shared by 100 friends, it's going to get a higher ranking than any of your posts that only got 10-20 likes and shares.
Who's Looking, Anyway?
So what others are saying about you is as important as what you post yourself. Why does that matter? This information is visible to anyone who bothers to Google you, including prospective employers, banks where you're applying for loans, insurance companies (health insurance, auto insurance, life insurance), people you may want to date and your enemies.
Can your boss, insurance company or bank really make a decision about hiring you, insuring you or loaning you money based on information posted about you on social media sites? Courts are chewing on this issue, but as of now there are no laws preventing it. While most insurance companies lack the resources to search social sites for every person they insure, they are certainly using these sites to research claims.
What does this mean in practical terms? Let's say you were out with friends after a tough work week. Maybe you had too much to drink and maybe you didn't, but someone snaps shots of everyone, posts it on their Facebook timeline and tags you.
You're in an accident on the way home and your insurance company comes across all of those photos with you, all your drunk friends and liquor flowing. Yes, they can use this information to determine you were drinking and attempt to deny your claim.
How Can You Clean Up Search Results?
Pay attention to where you go, whom you're with and what you're doing. What would it look like if your boss, bank or prospective date saw photos of this? Get yourself out of potentially damaging situations before there's an issue.
Is there already lots of damaging stuff out there? Like Reputation.com on Facebook to get regular information on how to clean up your online reputation and keep it clean. Stay away from people who don't realize the danger or don't care about your reputation. Need help? Reputation.com has programs to clean up your online rep and keep it safe.