The 2012 Summer Olympics are in the past now, after a dazzling two-plus weeks in London. Iconic moments and inspiring stories vaulted a number of athletes into sporting immortality, and their lives will never be the same. But what will casual fans find after searching Google to learn more about some of the Games’ biggest stars?
The online reputation management company BrandYourself explored just that question for three of the United States Olympic team’s hottest names: swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, and gymnast Gabby Douglas. What did BrandYourself find? Phelps is Google gold, Lochte’s online reputation could use some work and Douglas’ otherwise sterling credentials are slightly dinged by some seemingly irrelevant controversy.
After the Beijing Games in 2008, Phelps caught a fair amount of online flak for drug use and perceived laziness after photos surfaced of him smoking from a bong. But becoming the most decorated Olympian in history during this summer’s Games pushed most of those mentions far enough down Google Search results to render past criticism irrelevant. Articles mentioning pot and laziness are now buried after the first results page — which, according to BrandYourself, only 6% of Phelps searchers click past.
Lochte’s first page of search results, however, delivers content referring to him as a “douchebag” and poking fun at his bro-tastic personality. This, says BrandYourself, damages his reputation by partially overshadowing his accomplishments in the pool. And Douglas? In Google’s search results, her historic achievement of becoming the first African-American gymnast to win the all-around gymnastics gold is unfortunately mixed with criticism about her hairstyle.
Check out the infographic below for BrandYourself’s full report.