How to Audit your Digital Footprint



From public figure to a private person with an opinion, we all share at least a slight intrigue about how much someone can find out about us from a browser or that is already public on the web. 

We have also become aware that our personal and/or company brand/ reputation is often determined by what someone else can find out about us from the web prior to meeting or buying. Given these views, here are a few guides lines for a quick digital footprint audit and "how to" find out what the web "may share" about you and or your company. 

Search engines

Search for your name/nickname, and try more than Google Have a look at at 20Search for long list of other search engines http://www.20search.com/ 

Try Private or InCognito tabs 

If you ever get the chance, search from outside your home/work PC as searching from your own home place will distort your results (called personalised search bias) and even better search from outside of the country! 

Search for your name/ company in quotes "tony fish" 

Search for your name and phone number, home address, post code etc * remember in doing these searches you are telling all the search engines everything, even opening an incognito (chrome) or inprivate (firefox, IE) window/ tab still tells them everything as it only hides the search from someone using the same machine. You can hide searches from your ISP by using a secure search tab such as hpps://www.google.com

Repeat the search engine task but add some types specifics such as video, images, .doc, .ppt, .pdf and .xls

Repeat the search engine task but add some personal specifics such your hobbies, interests, kids names, village name, previous company, utility company, 

Start searching the social web from youtube, Twitter, Linkedin, plaxo, ning, xing, flickr, ebay, facebook, myspace, 123people, blogcatelog, technorati - however best to get a list from a search engine. Search for "list of top media sites"

Don't forget to search from your local government/ council, local/national telephone company and other public records.

Also try image search, upload a picture of your face to say Google Image and see what comes back that has been indexed.  You can do the same on many social platforms. 

If you are worried about doing this, there are lots of tools that can do these searches for you and provide real time updates and sentiment analysis. Joy!

NOTE - these searches only tell you what has been indexed by the search engines. They present the "indexed facts", it does not tell you how someone else will interpret them, in what context they can be viewed or the sentiment. Further these search do not tell you what your mobile/ smart phone knows about you or your mobile operator, your loyalty cards, your bank or what is stored on your home computer or a friends computer or on private databases and therefore be careful of anyone telling you they know everything. Remember; you can only control what you say, what others say about you is uncontrolled.

Company Audit is more complex as those doing are biased by bonuses and pay cheques

A digital audit is a mix of analysis along with formal monitoring. There are many companies who do this. These companies measure the numbers of blogs, forum entries, comments, tweets, website mentions and more but it takes some additional analysis to measure tone and opinion. (sentiment good or bad)

Unbiased digital audit means you are honest (not very easy when your job depends on it) and the requirement to analyse your entire web presence which includes your website, social networking profiles and any other content you generate online. It also includes conversations generated by others about you, your company and any topics that are essential to your business.

Ongoing realistic online audits are hard work but you can gain new ways to find honest feedback from your customers through software and online searches, collecting data in pie charts and spread sheets won’t do anyone any good. You need to do something with the findings, and check for bias (the hardest thing for a board of directors) or go with gut calls and opinion. A digital audit is a continual process by which you look at your organisation from the customer's perspective and marry it to want you want to say. It's also about looking at the information and being honest enough to discover what you will do about it. And if you think "everyone" has this online thing mastered, think again.

Very happy to help if you want any help doing an audit

The iterative journey continues for all of us.