Whether you're applying for a job or asking someone out on a date, you can be reasonably sure your name is getting Googled.

Hopefully, that's not a problem. Sure, the occasional high-school yearbook photo may be revealed, but most of the time there's nothing that will hamstring your efforts. Unfortunately, though, anyone with an Internet connection can start a blog and post something about you that will quickly work its way into a top spot among your name's search results.

"Your resume today is not what you send to employers," says Michael Fertik, CEO of ReputationDefender, an online privacy company that helps obscure damaging information on the Web. "Your resume is the first 10 results on Google. And if you're not careful, the Internet will become an albatross around your neck instead of an asset for your life."


Fertik says that the difficulty (and price) of burying something on Google can vary, depending on the size of the outlet that wrote about you. A small blog entry can be pushed down relatively easily. But if you've been slammed on a major blog or in a news article, fixing it (at least through Fertik's company) can run you as much as $100,000.

Not to fear, Fertik provided us with some cheaper options for keeping your online rep clean after the jump.

Create social networking profiles. If your name is attached to negative content, Fertik says the main thing is to get other posts or articles out there with your name on them which are neutral or positive.

"Make sure you've got a LinkedIn or Facebook page," he says. "That will have a good chance of showing up high on Google."

Buy a personalized URL. An URL with your name in it that leads to a simple Web site or blog, with your name in the title, is a solid defense against defamation. Fertik notes that it is better to do these types of things as soon as you can -- even before you get smeared -- because search engines favor older content.

Try to ignore attacks. Unless you are truly being defamed, it's probably better not to write your own blog item refuting it, or returning the dis. Linking to the original page, or tempting someone to respond to you, will only exacerbate the problem.

"If you do the kinds of things I suggested, for most cases it's better to ignore it," says Fertik. "You want to act around it, instead of against it. If someone is saying something specific and terrible about you -- that you raped someone or something, then you should respond. But most of the time, if someone is just calling you a jerk, it's better to let it go."

Of course, it's always a good idea to avoid being perceived as a dick, and you should assume that if you participate in pornography, it's going to get out there. We've learned those lessons the hard way.

Do you have any how-to subjects that you'd like to see addressed? Please send along suggestions and we'll do our best to find you some answers.