Online Identity Management

April 6, 2010

Priyadarshini Bishnu, Head of our Kolkata operations, advises young professionals to manage their online identities better

Now what is online identity management? Online identity management or online image management as it is sometimes known is a set of methods by which the information about a particular person can be received through the primary search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. The purpose of the online identity management is that it generates web presence for the person on the internet. This presence can be found in any kind of the media like for instance the online newspaper, blogs, forums, personal websites, photos and videos.

Online identity management also deals with increasing traffic both in quality as well as in quantity. Online image management is therefore related with search engine optimization. SEO is the short form for Search engine Optimization. It is a coding process used by the programmers to make the website speak to the primary search engines like Google, yahoo and MSN. By this process the website can be placed in the top of the listings of these search engines.

The way it works is quite simple. When users’ type in their requirement, the primary search engine asks the websites that are in their databases three questions to determine who is going to be seen in the first place and who is going to be seen in the last. The website that answers these three questions most accurately gets to be on top of the page and whichever website answers these questions worst gets a position at the end of the last page. In the case of those websites which cannot answer the questions at all they do not exist in the listings at all, therefore, no user can see these websites through the search engines. Hence in order to increase traffic into a website it is crucial that the website answers the three questions as accurately as possible.

The amount of traffic is directly related to search engine optimization and hence the amount of income of these websites is also totally dependant on this factor. The only difference between a search engine optimization and online identity management is that the only keyword that can be used here is the name of the person one is searching for. Therefore this method does not support the search of business organizations and other groups but deals with individual people. An example of this is that through the online identity management one cannot research on the United States government but can do research on Obama. Therefore, it is people specific. Another difference between search engine optimization and online image management is that the optimization object is not necessarily a single website but it can be a conglomerate of several websites that are either related to each other or are totally non-related. The objective of such a system is to get high rankings for as many websites as possible which are related to the person who is being searched. This kind of search is made through the primary search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN and often when a person is searched on Google, people refer to it as ‘to Google’ a name of a certain person.

How can a person build up online identity? Today it is not very difficult for even the common man to build up an online portfolio for himself. It can easily be done in the following ways:

  • By creating a blog:  one can easily create a blog for free today. A blog is a social forum where one can write down his thoughts, share his expertise, express his opinions and generally interact with the other internet users. Today not only the common man but even the celebrities have started using this method to promote themselves. Writing blogs have become so popular that often celebrities hire people to write blogs on their behalf. There are many blogging sites available today and one just has to register there for free to become a member. It can be treated as a journal which the entire world can access.
  • Through the social networking systems- individuals have started promoting themselves through social networking systems like Facebook, twitter, flicker, orkut and MySpace. These sites are social sites where one can talk freely with another person without even knowing that person physically. Not only can information and texts be exchanged but also photos, videos and other personal information. It is a great platform to build a public profile on as millions and millions of people visit such sites. Most of these websites have high page ranks in the primary search engines like Yahoo, Google and MSN and hence a person who is using such a website gets noticed easily.
  • Other mediums like the www.ezinearticles.com are a great platform for individuals who want to promote themselves. A person can easily write articles in this website and get known in the search engines. This website allows a person to add their web address at the bottom of each article which exposes the person’s website considerably.
  • People often maintain their own website to attract people’s attention. This is the easiest way of promoting oneself as the content of the website is totally controlled by the concerned person. So he can manipulate it anyway to bring about a positive online image.
  • Online identity management is particularly easy when the concerned party is a celebrity as then he would be mentioned in various aspects of the internet starting from blogs, social networking systems to the online newspapers and magazines. It is also easy to analyze these profiles as they are mentioned widely all across the internet.
  • Another way in which a person can promote himself is by adding their job profiles in sites like www.linkedIn.com. This is a hundred percent job related website where people upload their educational qualifications and their job profiles. They meet other professionals through this website as well, creating a community for themselves, where they can share information and data about the current jobs available and the competitive salary packages.

One may ask what is the purpose of promoting oneself on the internet or in other words is online identity management really necessary. The answer is quite simple. It is a big ‘yes.’ This is because to majority of the recruiters check the online profiles of the potential candidates before hiring them. Therefore it is really crucial to have a blemish free and positive online appearance. As even a slight tarnish in the online image can cause a person to either lose his job or to not be selected when he applies for a new one.

A recent research held by www.careerbuilder.com found that every one out of four hiring managers’ use search engines like Yahoo, Google and MSN to screen the potential candidates. The recruiting managers have become so dependant on the internet for their information on the candidates that out of every ten managers at least one look through the social networking profiles of the candidates before selection. This just goes to show how important it is to maintain a clean and positive web image.

Therefore, the objectives or the purpose of highlighting one’s image on the internet is quite clear. It is done to attract the recruiting managers, probably potential love interests and other people who are likely to come in handy when required.

Online identity management in essence is not very different from the search engine optimization as they both deal in optimizing their subjects. The only difference therefore, between the two is that search engine optimization gives exposure to business houses and other websites with no emphasis on a particular individual whereas, the online identity management, focuses sole on individual identities, giving them focus and prominence. They maximize the appearance of positive online references of individual personalities, targeting both the people who proactively search for this individual on the primary search engines like Yahoo, MSN and Google but also to people who eventually reach the individual through browsing of the internet.

People also use this process that is, online image identity to build profiles on the internet especially when the concerned person’s web presence is non- existent or very little. By this process he increases his presence considerably which allows him to be either Googled or found out through the other search engines. They increase his chances to be exposed to the recruiting managers which allow him to get jobs faster.

The online identity management or the online image management also helps in solving online reputation problems. If one has a bad reputation online he can alter it with the help of reputation management. This again helps him to get more or better jobs.

Therefore, though it is not mandatory yet it is essential that one maintains an online profile that is easy to comprehend and is possible. The more information there is the more chance there is to get a job or to meet someone that he likes. Therefore, today more and more people are resorting to online identity management.

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