Put your name or your business name in Google's search bar and see what comes up. It may surprise you.

Around April Fool’s Day each year, see what happens when you google yourself.  You may be “fooling” people with bad information.  Time for online spring cleaning.

I just googled my name.  The bio I wrote years ago for this newspaper column appears first, followed by our Chamber website’s Staff Page.  A YouTube video interview on the Village of Oak Park’s channel shows up third, followed by my LinkedIn profile and then Facebook.

Happily, my information appears before other Cathy Yens that might be out there, including one Cathy Yen who is CEO of a company in Asia.  That makes gives me confidence in the strong website SEO (search engine optimization) utilized by our community paper, municipal government and Chamber.

However, I have not updated my newspaper bio in two years.  Haven’t even looked at it.  I might want to check that out, even edit it, since it shows up first on Google.  I also am surprised to find that LinkedIn appears before Facebook.  That makes sense from a professional perspective.  However, I have not updated LinkedIn in as many as three years as opposed to Facebook, which I was on, oh, maybe five minutes ago.  Looks like I have some work to do to keep my public information fresh and accurate.

Did the same with the Chamber.  I was glad to see that the information on the first page of hits was correct.  Our website comes up first followed by news media mentions and social media profiles. On page two, however, both MapQuest and WhitePages show an incorrect address and phone number.   Each provides a link to submit edits.  I need to do that.

This week, we will email Chamber members the profile information we have on file for them.  This information appears in our public, online directory.  Soon we will send it to the Wednesday Journal’s Answer Book team for publication in our annual print directory.  We hope members take a minute to affirm or edit their listings for accuracy.

Online spring cleaning for yourself and your business is time well spent.  “Alternative facts” are no joke when potential customers stumble upon stale online information.

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...