The way you manage your online reputation affects you, whether you like it or not.
The fact is, anything can be used against you, and the internet has made the availability of information instantaneous, and potentially devastating for your reputation. That’s why you need to ensure that, if your name were Googled, the search engine results display a story you want your prospective boss/client/partner/lover to see. Sure, we’ve all made mistakes, but the internet is an unforgiving and ruthless beast that must be tamed by an effective reputation management strategy.
But what forms your online reputation? Well, the information people see that represents your online personality is given merit based on results from key authority sites that you use to promote yourself and your business. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google – these are all authority sites that contain a wealth of information that’s available to strangers, family, clients, and potential employers. Any information you post online forms part of your online reputation, and it’s all up for grabs.
Your reputation matters. The good news is, you can make it shine with a successful reputation management strategy.
Reputation Management, And The 5-Step System That Works
A reliable reputation management strategy will work to create a recognizable online brand name for yourself or your business – one that customers can interact with and share with their peers.
For your business to thrive in the 21st Century, you need to find ways to connect with your audience in a variety of ways, and potentially repair any damage which may have been caused in the past.
That’s where the following 5-step reputation management strategy comes in…
Let’s get started.
Step 1: Discover What People Know About Your Brand
According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, over 65% of Internet users see an online search as the most trusted source of information about people and companies. That’s a higher level of trust than any other source – online or offline. So in this day and age, if you can’t be “Googled”, then you’re at a disadvantage. How do you find what’s published about you on the World Wide Web?
Consult search engine results.
Type your name (or your company’s name) into the Google search bar and check the results. Are your details associated with negative press articles? Do you share details with an infamous murderer or public figure? Have you got some “skeletons” in your closet that have made it to the internet?
It’s possible that Google may know more about you that you think…
Other tools you can use to broaden your search for personal publicity articles and snippets include:
Social media analytics
Monitoring blogs that follow your work
Forums that cover topics either you or your business are involved with.
Step 2: Make Your Wrongs Right Again
Sometimes, unfortunately, you’re responsible for the bad press you’re receiving online. Mistakes happen, and it’s how you overcome them which shows your followers the true colors underneath. If you find yourself at the center of bad press, the best thing you can do is to apologize as quickly as possible, so you don’t inflame the situation further by leaving the public’s suspicions unanswered.
Then, you’ll want to scour the internet to remove any unpleasant posts and images of you that are circulating. Ask family, friends, colleagues – whoever is the source of the troublesome media – to remove it from their website or social media profile. If you’re to blame, well, you know what to do.
Step 3: Outrank Negative Content
As we’ve discovered, your online reputation is heavily based on your ability to produce positive search results should someone decide to Google your name or business. So what do you do if search results prove unfavourable? Push aside negative content, outranking it with positive articles, reviews, comments, and social media profiles instead.
Here’s three options you can try.
Option 1: Get Bad Publicity Removed
In some cases, it’s worth trying to have negative content removed from the internet. To do so, there/s a few steps you can take:
Ask to have bad content removed: You can find the source, or the person, who posted the content (article author, social media account owner, website owner, etc.) and ask them to take it down.
Have the the website removed: Find out the hosting company for the website (try whois.net) and look up their Terms of Service Agreement. If you see the site is in violation of their agreement, you can file a formal complaint to the company to have information removed.
Option 2: Bury The Bad Press
To get rid of the bad stuff, you can raise the profile and visibility of your positive content to flood it out. Essentially, you want to bury content down the search results page to where the user can’t be bothered to look. While this doesn’t technically remove your negative press from search engines, it does drastically decrease the chances of someone finding it.
This strategy can be extremely effective, since research shows that 93% of people don’t even go past the first page of search results. And even if they do, your reputation management work means they’ve probably just gone through an entire page of your positive content instead. Keep in mind that this means you need a good stack of quality content to bury the bad stuff.
Basic ways to bury a bad reputation include buying your domain name, building a personal website, creating social media profiles, and joining online directories.
Option 3: Bump It Off
Sometimes the process of burying negative publicity takes a lot of time – more than you can potentially afford. A work-around is a little known fact that could save you a lot of time: Google only displays one result on the first page of search results per domain.
For example, if an article in the Huffington Post shows up as your number one result, it’s going to be a lot of work to get ten other results to rank higher than their result, subsequently pushing it off the first page of Google search. An easier way would be to bump it off by ranking another result from the Huffington Post to replace the number one. This may seem like a big ask, but you’d be surprised how easy it really is.
Step 4: Create Rich Online Content
85% of U.S. recruiters and hiring managers say positive online content influences their hiring decisions
Content on the web that says anything about you, matters. If you’ve managed to earn a negative reputation online, then the best way to overcome it is to create your own positive content to drive the bad stuff out of top rankings in search engines.
Content is king.
So, once you’ve got your social media accounts or a website up and running, think of these as your own personal advertising space. You can use it to publish anything you like, but it’s best if you keep content relevant to your personal qualifications or field of expertise. Content needs to engage your audience, so consider some popular sources such as:
Quotes, anecdotes, statistics, and referenced information.
Videos and images rich with easy-to-decypher content.
How-to guides and informational articles.
Testimonials and personal anecdotes.
Biography and story of who you are.
Portfolio of your work.
Case studies of the results your business has achieved.
Updates on new products and services.
Remember, your site or social media account should be updated frequently to show search engines that you’re “alive”, and are providing up-to-date, relevant content for your audience. To do this, aim to post updates to social media daily, and add new content to your blog or website at least twice a month.
Step 5: Tell The World You’re Awesome
Once you’ve got positive online content, it’s time to let the world know how awesome you really are, by using the power of online networks. Spread your message wide using these key tools available to you.
70% of the U.S. population now has at least one social networking profile; more than half use two or more social networks.
Social media is a powerhouse for online reputation generation, and there’s no way you can ignore the reach that sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more, can offer. With over 70% of the U.S. population using it, social media is the most powerful tool available for building and repairing your online reputation.
Register With Directory Listings
If you’re a business, you’ll be in good company if you’re among your peers in a business directory. There’s a number of online directories that enable you to list your businesses by category, allowing you to put your name in front of customers who are actively seeking a service like yours. For a comprehensive list of local business directories, this article from Hubspot is great.
Encourage Online Reviews
In today’s online world, a key part of repairing your reputation is to encourage friends, customers – everyone – to provide honest reviews about their experience with you. There’s many free tools out there now that allow you to host reviews – sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google Reviews etc.
If you’ve got an idea to sell, try giving hints away first. Guest blogging your ideas to relevant authority sites will take you a step closer to being seen as an authority in your field. Having your message present in a number of online locations will also assist with your SEO efforts, and will have your brand more visible to potential customers. It’s worth the effort.
A Glowing Reputation, Means a Glowing Business
In the world of online content, your reputation is more vulnerable than ever before, and you need an online reputation management strategy to protect the face of your brand. People have the ability to comment in real time on events in your life, and (almost) anyone has the ability to contribute.
No matter how diligent you may be, there will always be exceptions, and ugly truths may be revealed. What’s important, is that you ensure the majority of online content which reflects your reputation is positive. This 5-step system will allow you to build a successful online reputation, and initiate “damage control” should your guard have dropped.