Are You a Victim of the "Long Tail"

by francine Hardaway on September 3, 2007

A friend of mine, Susan Sinclair Wintermute wrote me today to ask for advice. It seems she was offered a job in Germany, and when her prospective employer was doing due diligence before hiring her, the job was withdrawn. This was not fun for her. She was an attorney who married a man in the lending business who was harrassed by regulators. The regulators sued him, and in the middle of the suit, he died. Even though they were divorced, the regulators came after her.

I’ve written about this before. She spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the indictments, and finally had the charges dismissed and was cleared. Along the way, of course, she was disbarred. Now she is trying to rebuild her life. But the government’s charges keep coming up in searches, and she wanted to know what to to.

There’s really nothing she can do, because of the “long tail” of the Internet. Everything stays up there once it gets up there, as evidenced by the fact that articles I wrote thirty years ago when teaching in a community college have been digitized and posted. I even Googled my father, who died in 1965, and found his producer credits for a movie he produced in 1950 called the “Striptease Murder Case.” Who knew?

Yesterday, I found a note under my door from my next door neighbors in Half Moon Bay, who had read my puppy blog, a blog I write in my dog’s voiceBuppy
and found a “letter” I wrote to them (but hadn’t yet mailed) on the occasion of them calling the sheriff because my dogs barked. When I Googled myself, I had to get down to page 3 of the results to find my Blogger profile, because I don’t use Blogger for my business blogs, and never did find the blog itself listed. For “public” stuff, I use Typepad. They dug deep and found me.

There is one way to offset the “long tail,” and that is to provide information yourself. I have come to believe it’s really necessary to use all the social networking sites and input your own information.

Put full profiles up on sites like:
If there are notes sections or extra sections, that’s where to put anything you want known in your own words.

These are social networking sites crawled by bots. Often they come up first in an Internet search.

A few days after you do that, Google yourself again and see what comes up. Always Google yourself every few weeks and put an alert on Google for your name so if anything new appears, you know about it first. And remember, when you write anything that goes on the Internet, you are writing for an audience, and perhaps even for posterity. As I found out in my father’s instance, the Internet confers a strange kind of immortality.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Turner September 3, 2007 at 7:49 pm

We actually had a recent inquiry from a prospective client that wanted us to erase the long tail by providing more up to date relevant info on the search engines that would move the results of searches about their company to pages where people wouldn’t find them. I was surprised that they understood the long tail idea so well, however, we didn’t propose the right plan for them. In a way I’m kinda glad.

francine hardaway September 3, 2007 at 9:23 pm

How funny. Like negative SEO…that’s probably the next big thing.

Howard Popper April 6, 2010 at 6:36 pm

There is a statute, the Hyde Amendment, 18 USC 3006A that provides recompense for people wrongfully prosecuted. I am sure that your friend must know of this statute, but if not, God speed!

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