A doppelganger is a person’s ghost or physical double.  You may not have a physical double, but you almost certainly have a web doppelganger.  It may be outdated.  It may be embarrassing.  No matter. If you want to show your best self online, you need to know about your web ghosts.  How?  Have a séance and invite them.

Visit ghosts in “private”.  Open a browser window or tab in the private or incognito mode (see this article for instructions for how to do this with various browsers).  Why incognito?  If you don’t, your past searches will influence the results you see.  You want your browser to treat you like a stranger, and that’s what it does in the incognito mode.

Search for your name variations.  The obvious start is with your first and last name, but use quotes around your name, e.g. “John Doe”.  The quotes will rule out “Doe John” and other partial matches.  Note the number of pages the search turned up.  Next, in a new tab add your middle name(s), again in quotes, and again note the number of pages found.  In a third tab, you might also want to search with your middle initial included in the search.  Or, if you use a nickname, stage name, or alias, you could check them out as well.

Search tip.  When I entered my name, “Warren Eaton”, I found entries for Lt. Charles Warren Eaton, an American painter.  By using advanced search commands, I could eliminate cases containing the Lt. Charles part with the minus (-) feature.  My revised search had the following criteria:  “Warren Eaton” Charles Lt. The -Charles told Google not to return hits with Charles.  Similarly, -Lt blocked entries that contained Lt.  Handy.

Record what you find. For each variant of your name, take and save a screen shot of the highest ranking entries or hits. This screenshot record will provide a useful baseline later.

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