Thanks to the Internet, we all now have a reputation to oversee. And online reputation management has become big business. There are hundreds of tools online offering to protect your reputation and keep your good image. But what do they do? How do they work? And how effective are they?
Here’s an overview of online image management tools, how they work, and how to choose the most effective Internet image management tools.
How Do Online Reputation Management Tools Work?
Most Internet reputation management tools are built on the foundation of search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO combines observations of how search engines work with careful content building and timing to get the maximum results from new content, ensuring that it’s widely read and shared, and pushing content you control up the list of your search results. But there’s a lot more to fixing your online reputation than just pushing some results up and the rest downward.
These tools generally offer three services that work in tandem to help you maintain your reputation: reputation assessment, reputation repair, and reputation monitoring. Other tools will include reputation advisors who teach you about reputation strategy and help you use aspects of the Internet to help build your reputation. Here’s a quick overview of how these tools work in each category.
Internet Reputation Management: Assessment
The joke is that if you want to know your reputation online, you just have to run your name through a search engine. While it’s a bit cheesy, it isn’t entirely untrue; many people looking for you online will run your name through search engines to see what they can find. But there’s more to assessment than just looking at your results.
You have to ask a few questions to get a full sense of what your results are telling you. What links are at the top of your search results? Are they links you control, such as your blog, your social media presence, or your business’ website? Are they links that have factually accurate statements about you? Are the links you find even about you, or are they about somebody else?
For example, if you’ve got a business that has a good website tied to your name, and the first handful of results are news articles about your business, that’s not bad but still not great. More than a third of all searchers click on the first link, ignoring the rest, so you want that link to be your business’ official site. No press is that good.
Online Image Management: Repair
The next step is applied to repair your results to properly reflect you as a person. One of the most common problems many private citizens run into online is the mugshot website. Mugshot websites “scrape” the Internet for public records, specifically mugshots, and present them online, generally shorn of any context other than your full name. They’re trying to ensure that when you’re searched for online, your mugshot will show up.
This isn’t because they’re Internet vigilantes, it’s because they’re running what many call a scam: Most mugshot websites charge a “removal fee” that can run into the hundreds of dollars, simply to take down a public record from a private website. Reputation repair ensures that instead, these mugshot websites are pushed so far down in the results that they won’t come up again.
Internet Reputation Control: Monitoring
Finally, there’s the most important step in the process. Once you put the time and effort into repairing your reputation, you need to keep a constant eye on it. Good reputation management tools will automate this process for you, assessing links and making reviews and other content simple to observe on a dashboard.
Choosing The Best Tools
So, which tools are the best? Here are five we highly recommend.
ReputationDefender has spent years refining and building their reputation software and strategies. Most reputation companies will simply send you a website login or a package of software and leave you to it. ReputationDefender will pair you with a reputation advisor to ensure that you’ve built the strategy you need not just for your reputation, but also for social media and to deal with smear campaigns and negative reviews before they start. It’s designed for maximum flexibility. ReputationDefender’s tools can be used by both private citizens and multinational corporations to maintain their reputation. In short, if you’re looking for a one-stop shop for Internet reputation management, ReputationDefender will take care of your needs.
2. Me On The Web
A good backup to ReputationDefender is Google’s Me on the Web, a system the search giant has implemented to allow you to see how you’re seen within Google’s network. The main drawback of Me on the Web is that it’s really “me on Google.” While Google is enormous and the #1 search provider, it’s not the only game in town and not the only place you should be analyzing your reputation. Still, it’s a useful backup if you want to stay on top of Google specifically.
3. Google Alerts
An even more stripped down version of Me On The Web is Google Alerts, which will send you an email when you get a new result on a search term. It’s useful for monitoring, to a point, but is really more of an email newsletter and doesn’t have the “dashboard” functionality of tool suites like ReputationDefender.
Another reputation tracking tool is Trackur, which is built to analyze social media. Trackur undeniably has some good points, but just like Me On the Web, it suffers from overspecialization; it’s solely about tracking and analyzing your social media presence, and most of us have more on the web than just that. It’s useful when paired with ReputationDefender, but it’s really more of a complement to a full-featured reputation service than one you should use on your own.
Brandify is built for businesses, and claims to be able to track how competitor brands are doing online. And it has its uses as a tracking tool, but for private citizens it’s not very useful as it’s built from the ground up for large corporations. That lack of flexibility makes it difficult to use for private citizens and small businesses.
In short, if you need online image management, you need ReputationDefender. Call us today.
Photo credits: Gualberto107 of freedigitalphotos.net, suphakit73 of freedigitalphotos.net, bearvader of freedigitalphotos.net