Top Five Keys to Unlock a Great Online Reputation
In today’s Web-savvy world, online reputation management plays a significant role in multiple aspects of your life. A 2009 Microsoft-sponsored survey revealed that 79 percent of US hiring managers and job recruiters reviewed online information about job applicants, and a full 70 percent of them have rejected candidates based on what they found. Employers, however, aren’t the only ones using the Internet for research.
When people want information quickly, they turn to Web search engines. It stands to reason, then, that nearly everyone can benefit from knowing how to unlock a great online reputation. By managing your Internet reputation, you can ensure that what people find out about you on the Web is what you want them to find. Whether you are an individual or a business, you can unlock a solid online reputation using the following simple but effective keys.
1) Discover what’s out there.
In the case of your online reputation, knowledge is definitely power. Find out how the Internet defines what information about you rises to the top of search engine rankings. Your first key to unlock a great online reputation is discovering exactly how you appear online, right now.
Google dominates the search engine race, with more than 83 percent of users Googling for results. Bing follows at 7.2 percent and then Yahoo! at 5.7 percent. (It should be noted that Yahoo! search is now powered by Bing.) Plug your name into each of these search engines. If you have a common name, you might also want to enter one or two keywords that are more likely to generate results about you. For instance, if you’re John Smith and your business is photography, try searching for “John Smith photographer.” Make note of the information you find. Chances are, you’ll uncover one of four things:
- Neutral or positive information
- No information
- Negative information
- A combination of positive, neutral, and negative information
If you discover any of the last three options, it’s time to formulate an online reputation management plan.
2) Be proactive.
There are two types of online reputation management: reactive and proactive. Reactive reputation management occurs when you monitor what people say about you online and then respond to it. You can’t control what others post on the Web; however, if you allow them to build your Internet reputation for you, then you’ll have no way to manage your personal brand.
Proactive online reputation management, on the other hand, is when you actively build a positive Web presence. Though reputation management usually includes a combination of the two strategies, proactive management remains exceedingly important to generating a positive online reputation. Aggressively executing your own content allows you to control the information others find.
3) Clean up past mistakes.
The following mistakes are among the most common social networking no-nos:
- Posting inappropriate photographs
- Sharing content pertaining to drugs or alcohol
- Writing negative comments about previous or current employers
- Using poor communication skills
- Making discriminatory remarks
- Revealing private or confidential information
Virtually all of these mistakes are within your control, and recognizing them an help you unlock a great online reputation. If the material comes from something you’ve posted, go back and delete the offending photographs and comments. This is true of blog comments, forum posts, past blogs and information on social networking websites. All can be deleted. Resist the temptation to remove the accounts altogether, however, because when you’ve cleaned up inappropriate content, you can probably use them to begin building a positive image.
If friends in your network are responsible for posting this information about you, you have two options. First, if friends have tagged posts with your name, remove the tag if the social network website allows you to do so. Second, contact your friends personally and ask them to delete the information.
4) Deploy active strategies.
When you’ve cleaned up negative content to the best of your ability, your next step is to strategically place information you’d like others to discover when they search for you online. Your social and business networking accounts, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google public profile and Twitter, are good places to start. Create these accounts if you don’t already have them. For each, include well-written, grammatically correct text that supports the image you’d like to portray. Include a professional photograph, appropriate interests and resumé highlights.
Next, become an active Web participant. If you don’t have a blog, start one. Visit other blogs or forums and leave thoughtful comments. Consider building a personal webpage with dynamic content that you refresh regularly. If you are trying to build a reputation for your business, create fresh, interesting copy that puts a human face on the people behind your business. This article contains more business reputation management ideas.
5) Control what rises to the top of search engines.
After you’ve generated your online infrastructure, you can use proactive techniques to promote your chosen content. Social networking websites typically top search engine results, so keeping your information updated is essential. Blog and website copy perform better in search engines if you strategically and judiciously insert keywords and keep the text fresh. By creating frequently updated, keyword-rich, positive content, you can naturally push negative information that others produce to lower placement in search engine rankings.
To unlock a great online reputation requires strategic management; however, with vigilance and a little effort, you can create the online persona you would like to display to the world.