Since most of our lives are now online and visible to anyone who searches your name on Google, online reputation management has become an area of interest for most people. This is true regardless of whether you are a mother of three to a CEO of a Fortune 500 business. The online world has given us as users access to a wealth of information, but that process goes both ways.
Eccentric billionaire, Warren Buffett, sums this up with some of his old school wisdom that holds up just as well today in our immediately available and technology orientated world:
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Your online reputation management
How does this have an impact on you, irrespective of your job/ role/ position?
Your online reputation operates differently to your reputation amongst your nearest and dearest, but in can have an impact if left unchecked. An online reputation needs to be managed, cultivated and crafted – it needs work.
Businesses and people come to Salted Panda to help mend their damaged online reputation after a crisis has already emerged. When we begin our work with any client to support their online reputation management, there are some key steps we take early on that I would like to share.
5 tips to better online reputation management
Step 1: Audit your online reputation
This is where most people begin to understand the importance of online reputation management. Perform an audit on yourself, what do people see when they search your name. But it’s important not to stop there, if you’re associated with a business start combining terms. An example of these search terms would look like this:
- ‘First name – Last name’
- ‘First name – Last name – Business’
- ‘First name – Last name – City’
- ‘First name – Last name – Business – City’
When searching on search engines, people use a mixture of terms for what you are known for, be sure you understand what you are known for.
Step 2: Understand Page One of Google
After the audit, what does the first page of Google (or any search engine) look like for your online reputation? These 10 links on page one of Google is what people will see embodies ‘you’.
For example if you are a dentist, it might include:
- Your LinkedIn profile page
- The website for your practice
- The services page of your website
- A third party reviews website
- Image search results
- An article you wrote for a local publication
- Second publication (syndication) of the same article above
- Press release regarding malpractice from +10 years ago
- Your Twitter account (with the username @PartyMachine)
- Press release of the award you won this year
Step 3: Know what you can and cannot control
There will be instances where you have zero control over articles and press that is online. Some of these will undoubtedly be hurting your online reputation.
Seven of the ten items listed in Step 2 are well within your control – these are quick wins. I will assume your LinkedIn profile and website are already in tip-top condition (ie representing your best interests), but other sites such as the Twitter example (with the username @PartyMachine) do not. Don’t let the username fool you, search engines still make the connection between weekday-you and weekend-you.
Step 4: Operation clean up
At Salted Panda, we always advise clients to get their social media in order and leverage what they can control, as opposed to focussing on what cannot. Social media websites are very powerful and quickly improve the outlook of your page one results (related to your name as the keyword).
If you’re hell bent on keeping @PartyMachine alive for the weekends, we recommend creating another Twitter account that is set up for corporate-you, and uses your real name as the username (ie ‘First name – Last name’). And be sure to start using it for business activities, search engines recognise activity as relevance towards your keywords (ie your name).
The area where online reputation management services really get to work is managing the areas where you have significantly less control. Without large lawsuits it is almost impossible to remove content from websites (contrary to what most organisations will tell you). The best strategy is displacement.
Step 5: Grow and adapt
We have already begun to touch on this in the previous step. The internet is a machine and needs to be fed.
Keep it well stocked with new content about you, your business and associated activities. If this is the first time you have considered ‘what is online reputation’, then consider how long that material about you has been building up online to form that page one view.
It will take time to alter your online reputation, but that’s where businesses like ours step in to manage and guide the future version of your online reputation.