A few tips here on how to use google to keep track of who is keeping track of you. Keep a blog? Have pictures up? Have a unique name? You might not know who is using your stuff (or your reputation). Here’s some hints… These techniques will allows you to take the vantage of the world looking inward at you, and see things you’d have never otherwise seen.

1) Sign up for a Google Alert for your name (and also your usernname). This emails you everytime your name appears on a new webpage.

This is how we found out that my Grandmother’s church prayed for Carolyn during her sinus surgery. Vicky followed my suggestion and blogged about her results as well.

Step 1: Go to Google Alerts HERE.
Step 2: Enter “YourFirstName YourLastName” in quotes.
The quotes are important!!
And use your own name, dummy!
Step 3: Leave “type” set to “Comprehensive”, as this is the most powerful.
Step 4: Give your email address.
Step 5: Click submit.

Now sit back and enjoy an informative email every once-in-awhile when your name comes up. Somebody talking smack about you? You might just find out. Something hurting your prospective employment due to people googling your name? Now you can find out and ask them not to use your last name, or to take it down / make it private / move it to a new URL because it’s now in the cache where it will persist, possibly for 2 years. And if you find out it’s me who’s doing it (quite likely), please ask nice. I am always willing to change someone’s last name to an initial, even retroactively.

2) Sign up for a Google Blogsearch linking to your blog.

This will give you an alert everytime somebody links to your blog. Did you write about a concert, and now some fanboy forum is talking about it? Did a local newspaper article link to your blog? Are your friends talking smack about you? Is someone hotlinking your images? Are spammers copying your content and putting banner ads on it? You’ll know.

Step 1: For this to be practical, you need to use RSS. Google Alerts uses email (yuck), but Google Blogsearch alerts use RSS (yay!).
Go sign up for Google Reader if you haven’t already.
It’s literally the best thing sine the web and email.
Step 2: Enter a search for links to your blog into the searchbox.
This is done by searching for link:http://myblog.blogwhatever.com
In other words, you just put in your blog’s base address, and add “link:” in front of it.
Step 3: You should see results.
Step 4: In the left column, there is an “RSS” link. Click it and subscribe.

Now sit back and find out whenever any blog links to you. This still only covers links to your, though.

3) Repeat Step 2, creating a Google Blogsearch linking to your online photos — for example link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl.

You may want to do this for your other websites as well. The target website doesn’t have to be a blog; it’s just that the search itself is limited to blogs. But believe me, there are a lot of spam blogs re-using content, and it’s good to know when they are doing this to you, because they never use trackbacks.

4) [NOT YET POSSIBLE] It would be nice to find a way to find out everytime somebody hotlinks an image without actually linking to one of your sites. Google does not seem to support searching for these. Best substitute is to include a link to your blog in every caption of every photo you post. Most people who repost photos will repost your caption, and the link to your blog (in the caption) will show up in your reader due to step #1.  The true main reason I pick up the splogs that use my images because they also copy my image captions, which always include a link back to my blog. The technique would only otherwise work when the sploggers actually linked to my blog (which they sometimes do [!!!], but not always). There is currently know known [to me] method for RSS alerts on new hotlinked images. So fun situations like this one wont come up as often until we figure out how to find out about them. (Yes, I know I could analyze my logfiles, but I’m looking for a computer-independent, centralized, good-for-life measure.)

5) Flickr comment responses – go to the “comments you’ve made” page on flickr … There is a feed button on that page. Subscribe to it. Now you can ask questions, talk smack, leave comments — whatever. The point is, if someone talks back, you’ll see it in your reader. There’s really no point in going directly to flickr! This also lets you see an interesting picture several times over your life — each time someone new comments on it. In a way, you are subscribing to an individual photo by commenting on it. And you can always make it stop by deleting your comment. Nifty.

I guess there’s now way to figure out who is using your YouTube videos…. Can anyone else think of any other tricks to look from the outside in and see who’s watching/using your stuff? I’m stumped.