Individuals around the world now turn to the Internet as their first source of information about people and businesses. Professionals research potential employers online, and consumers judge companies by their reviews on the Internet. More than ever before, individuals and businesses must become proactive about their online reputations.
A proactive online reputation management strategy primarily entails several calls to action: constructing an extensive online presence, tracking newly posted content and responding to inaccurate or unfair information.
Tip 1: Establish a presence on social networks.
When individuals search for your name or your company, you want them to find factual information about your past and present accomplishments or products. In order to control what the search engine discovers, you must put a substantial amount of information about you or your company on the Internet.
The most powerful tools for building an online reputation are social media and social networking websites. Social profiles rank well and allow you to control what information reaches the public, safeguarding your privacy.
The essential social networks are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr. Use your profiles to share interesting pieces of media and to interact with friends, business acquaintances and potential customers. Other popular social networking websites include Digg, Delicious, Gather, Mashable, Plaxo, StumbleUpon and MySpace. Follow the rising trends, and quickly establish your name or brand on the newest websites.
Tip 2: Forge an online identity beyond social media.
Create and manage personal or professional blogs, preferably on multiple blogging networks. Establish the blog using your name or brand and provide relevant, engaging information, such as news, profiles, stories or histories. The more often you update the blog with original content, the higher it’ll rank on search engines.
Maintain proprietary websites that contain updated, pertinent information about your professional, personal or business life. Implement proper search engine optimization for the websites and choose page titles that contain your name or brand. Link between your various websites, including blogs, proprietary sites and social networks. This increases their relevancy to your particular search string (your name or brand) and empowers searchers to uncover more information easily and efficiently.
Tip 3: Consistently monitor your online reputation.
When you have an established reputation, you should track changes to immediately address any negative content. Several companies offer tools that allow you to follow changes in your online reputation.
Through a Google Alerts account, you receive emails whenever the engine indexes a new website related to your particular search string. You gain access to new content as soon as it appears on your Google search. Google Alerts, however, doesn’t access information indexed on other search engines, such as Bing or Yahoo!, nor does it scour social media sites for references to your name or brand.
Other specialized tracking tools exist, such as Technorati, a blogosphere search engine; TweetBeep, a Twitter monitoring service; and Trackur, a social media scanner.
Tip 4: Clarify inaccurate content.
As you manage your online reputation, you may encounter inaccurate content about you or your company. If this information was shared unintentionally, you may be able to convince the author to update it or remove it with a simple polite email request.
If you find deliberately untruthful or belligerent content about you or your company, however, you should not try to confront the poster. Often, online bullies only want to create drama, and responding to their attacks is a great way to draw more attention to the reputation issue. It’s a unique Internet phenomenon known as “the Streisand effect.”
Tip 5: Promote positive content.
A helpful way to protect your online reputation is to bolster your existing content. You can accomplish this by increasing the amount of links between your websites, updating the information found on your websites and creating profiles on new social networks. If you increase the authority and popularity of your existing content, the websites should rank higher on search engines, burying negative content under more accurate depictions of you or your company.
Engaging in a proactive online reputation management strategy has become a necessity in today’s increasingly connected world. Take control of your online reputation management strategy by forging a strong online presence, by monitoring new content relating to you or your company and by reacting to negative comments as they arise.