Online reputation management is important to both businesses and individuals. Your online reputation is the impression you leave with your digital audience when they Google you, visit your website or find you on social media. Some of what turns up on a Google search may be wrong: but much of it may be accurate but requires explanation. Some of it you may not even know.
Someone is Googling you now
Today, its fast and easy for people to search online for your name or your business's name to discover information about you, your organization or your connections. Your cyber reputation is important when someone is considering entering a business or personal relationship such as:
- donating or volunteering for your nonprofit
- hiring you for professional services
- interviewing you in the media
- attending your event or program
- buying your new product
- eating at your restaurant
5 Steps to Manage Your Online Reputation
1. Google Yourself
Don't just Google your name: Google your name and your city, or your name and your business, or other combinations that people are likely to associate with you. If you find yourself on page 1, with content and links that you control such as a LinkedIn account or Facebook page, make sure the search results snippet shows what you want it to show.
If your have a business or provide a service, try Googling your business name plus the name of an online review site, such as Yelp. See what your customers may be saying about you online.
It is typically faster and more productive to request that sites with defamatory information remove it, rather than suing.
note: If information posted about you online is inaccurate or defamatory, there are laws to protect consumers, and you can sue for online defamation. Your first step should be to contact the site where the information is posted and request that they remove it.
2. Set Up Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a free service that notifies you when the terms you entered in the account appear in news or high ranking online sites. If you sign up for a Google Alert under your name or your business name, any time that phrase appears in a ranking site you will receive an email notification.
3. Review Your Social Media Sites
Look at what you've posted online over the past year or two, including photos. What photos have you been tagged in? If you find posts and images that you no longer want on your sites, delete them. If friends have tagged you when you don't want to be tagged, either untag yourself or ask your friend to untag you.
Online reputations are your permanent record: once its out there, there's little you can do to permanently delete information. But you can take actions to make it less important and cause it to rank lower.
4. Create Your Own Online Content
Take control of your online reputation by creating valuable, accurate content on several digital sites using the key words and topics people would use to search for you. Adding new content to your website, blog and social media sites on a regular basis will cause those sites to rank higher in search engine results, in effect burying the negative content below the positive content you publish.
Content marketing is an online reputation management strategy to bury negative content below lots of new and positive content.
note: Search engines have sophisticated content analysis algorythims. Your content must be relevant and accurate to positively impact your online reputation. Don't embelish or post inaccurate information to boost your profile: Google's penalties can be severe, including dropping you from all search results.
5. Don't Ignore Negative Online Comments
When someone makes a negative online comment about your business or your product, don't ignore the comments: instead, reply quickly address negative comments. PR Daily has 4 tips to leverage negative customer comments into an opportunity to solve a problem and potentially gain a lifelong customer:
- Don't delete: send a message and attempt to resolve the issue
- Don't ignore: other customers see that you don’t reply and form negative opinions
- See it as an opportunity: interact with the customer and help them through the crisis
- Don't fall into troll traps: social media trolls are nasty commenters who have too much time on their hands
Your online reputation is something you and your organization should be proactivley managing on a daily basis. Stay on top of your digital reputation with continual monitoring and by posting new and useful information on your online sites.