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7 new eye-opening statistics about online reputation for 2024

by Jennifer Bridges  @JenBridgesRD

Mature businesswoman sitting at cafe looking at her cell phone while working on laptop computer. Woman reading text message at coffee shop.

Looking for a new job? Trying to attract more customers? You’ll need to ensure you make a good first impression online because, today, people search the internet before making decisions about individuals and businesses.

We recently commissioned research that underscores just how important your digital reputation is. Here are seven compelling statistics from our findings:

1. More than half of people have decided against contacting a business because they found unfavorable information about it in the search results

Think about it; what do you do when you want to buy something? You go online to research the product or service you want and the companies that sell it.

The things that come up in a Google search will lead you to trust or distrust the companies you’re considering.

For example:

  • Does the business have negative reviews?
  • Does it have too few reviews?
  • Does it have too many 5-star reviews?
  • Is there evidence it treats its customers well and goes the extra mile for them?
  • Is it easy to spot customer-service horror stories in the company’s search results?

Our research shows that 55% of people are repelled by a business’s bad online reputation.

Like it or not, the internet is where many businesses make their first impressions. This means that if your impression is a bad one, there’s a good chance you are turning away customers before they ever interact with you.

2. Over half of people have searched online to learn about someone they were considering interacting with

Just like people research businesses, they are also checking out individuals. In fact, 55% of people are doing this—and what they find can have a significant impact on your personal and professional life.

For example, many hiring managers google a job applicant’s qualifications or personality as part of the vetting process.

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Here are a few of the things employers are looking for:

  • Are they who they say they are?
  • Will they be a good fit with the organization?
  • Can they communicate clearly and professionally?
  • Are they active in their industry?
  • Do they show good judgment?

If they find evidence that backs up the candidate’s stated skills or abilities, then that person is likely to be short-listed for an interview. If not, then that candidate has sabotaged their chances.

This also applies to the world of online dating. Before agreeing to that first date, many potential romantic partners do a quick Google search to look for more information about the person they are considering meeting.

If the search results for a person’s name or picture pull up evidence of criminality, inappropriate behavior, or even poor taste, it will affect the searcher’s opinion of them.

3. Almost half of people have decided against contacting someone because they found unfavorable information about that person in the search results

If searchers don’t like what they find about you in the search results for your name, then 44% of people will write you off—and you might not even be aware that this is happening.

For example, if you are applying for a job and an online search of your name brings up questionable social media posts, disparaging comments about former employers, or inappropriate pictures, you are going to be passed over in favor of someone with a better online reputation. For some people, they are rejected over and over, without ever realizing their online image is what’s dragging them down.

4. 1 in 5 people say they’ve been negatively affected by what people can find online about them online

All it takes is a few bad search results to make you look untrustworthy or undependable.

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Our research shows that 21% of people have been harmed by their online reputation, whether it’s losing out on a new job or a promotion, damaging a friendship, or having difficulty finding a romantic partner.

One area of life you might not think would be affected by your digital footprints is obtaining life insurance. These companies use what they can find online about you to determine what risk class you fall into during the underwriting process or to deny or reduce payouts of any claims.

For example, if multiple pictures on Instagram or Facebook show you skydiving or extreme skiing, then you will likely have a harder time obtaining insurance coverage. Or, if you file a disability claim and the insurance company sees evidence that appears to contradict the seriousness of your injury (like a photo of you lifting something heavy or dancing at a nightclub), then it might deny your claim.

5. More than 1 in 3 people say the search results for their name or their business’s name contain inaccurate information

Google doesn’t always get it right when it comes to presenting an accurate picture of you or your business. This can be devastating, given the power Google has to make or break your reputation.

If you have a common name, for example, Google may confuse you with someone else with a terrible track record or even a criminal conviction, which can lead to lost personal or professional opportunities.

If you are a business, trolls or competitors might post fake reviews or other misinformation that can damage your bottom line.

Do you have a good online reputation? Find out with our free
Reputation Report Card.
Start Your Scan

Our research revealed that Google shows incorrect data for 36% of people and businesses. These are not great odds if you think about the power your online reputation has to help or hinder nearly every aspect of your life and business.

6. Nearly 1/3 of people are unhappy with what they find when they search for themselves online

Don’t like what you see when you google yourself? You are not alone. Our research says 30% of people feel this way about what the internet says about them.

Given the amount of information about everyone and everything online, the odds are good that something unexpected or alarming might be associated with your name.

For example, your search results might contain derogatory remarks others have made about you—or that you have made about someone else. Either way, you don’t come out of it looking good.

Another common complaint is unflattering or inappropriate photos of you. Regardless of who took them or how old they are, they can still adversely affect your life and livelihood.

7. 3 out of 4 people have searched for themselves online

Our research found that 70% of people google themselves by looking up their name, address, phone number, etc. Given the power of the internet to affect your life, this is the smart thing to do.

Proactively researching your online reputation and seeing what’s out there for others to find is the first step toward improving your online presence.

However, before you start to search, you’ll need to log out of your current search engine profile to ensure your results aren’t biased by your search history. Then, you should be sure to search for several variations of your name.

For example:

firstname + lastname

nickname +lastname

firstname + lastname + city

firstname + lastname + occupation

Don’t forget to search for images as well.

Once you know what kind of things come up for your name, you can begin the work of repairing or strengthening your search results, promoting the positive content and suppressing the negatives.

If you have any questions about this process or would like professional help, give us a call. We have over 15 years of experience managing online reputations for individuals and businesses alike, and we are happy to provide a free consultation.