One of the little bits of advice I got when I was on the job market is that I should make my own website. So I put together a very rudimentary personal website. It was not fancy. There was a front page, with a neat image from my work and a short description of my research interests. Then there was a page with all my publications and another with more detailed descriptions of my research projects. It was basically my CV and research statement, but online. I put the URL on my LinkedIn page and in my contact info on my CV that I sent out to (the later) job searches. But really, it was nothing that they wouldn't find in my actual application.
Then, I put a Google Analytics tracker on the page. Now, I don't know if I would recommend this if, like Cackle of Rad, you are prone to spending hours in front of a computer hitting "refresh". But what I found was that there were hits from EVERY single place that ended up interviewing me. And also a couple of places that didn't interview me, but where I had made the short list, I found out later.What is interesting is that even places that got applications without the url for my website still found it. OK, so that is not really interesting in the era of Google. The question is: did the website help me? Probably not. There was not any new info there. But it probably didn't hurt, either.
Which brings me to my point: SEARCH COMMITTEES WILL GOOGLE YOU. Really. We are in the midst of a search right now and every single person on our short list was googled. There are basically two outcomes when someone that is thinking of hiring you hits the google. 1. they will find something that is neutral or positive and it will not really affect their decision or 2. they will find something ridiculous that will negatively affect their decision. I don't think that googling can help a job candidate, because if there is something that is awesome about you then it should be in your application already.
Clearly, it is in your best interest to KNOW what the search committee will find when they google you. And then clean up the ridiculous. Especially if your name is somewhat unique and we will be able to find everything that has ever been on the internet about you. In this case, it could be really good to make your own site that ranks high on the google. This will divert us, the busy but slightly curious search committee. Or at least make it that you get to have a say in what we see.
This may seem obvious, and perhaps I'm preaching to the choir. But, based on my experience with the search this year it had to be said.
What will the search committee find when they google you?