If you don't like the results that come up when you search for your name on Google, you now have a new free way to make sure people find the online information you want them to by creating a free Google Profile and filling it with accurate information.
1. Go to google.com/profiles. If necessary, sign in with your Google account. If you don't have a Google account, you'll have to create one.
2. Click to create a profile and start filling out the information fields. Fill out the profile with as much or as little information as you like, including photos, your hometown, contact information, job description, a bio and links to your blogs, social networking profiles and other sites. I would suggest including your full name, a photo and perhaps your occupation and employer.
3. If you use Gmail, by default, your profile URL will end in your Gmail username, so if your Gmail address is email@example.com, your Google profile will be google.com/profiles/john.smith. But this will reveal your e-mail address, which is probably not be a good idea. Instead, you should choose to have a profile URL Google generates, which ends in a lot of numbers.
4. When you are finished, click to create our profile. The next time someone searches for your name on Google, at the bottom of the first page of search results, they should see a link to your profile (unless you have a really common name). Having a Google profile may not displace search results about you that are unflattering (like a nasty write-up on Gawker), but once people get used to looking for the profile results, they'll have quick access to information that is accurate, up to date, and controlled by you.
5. When you are logged into your profile, you'll see a search box at the bottom that lets you search for other Google profiles.
(Etan Horowitz is the technology columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. He can be reached at ehorowitz at orlandosentinel.com.)
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