The reputation you have created online is determined by how others perceive you there. If you do a Google search for your name or your company’s name, do you feel like the results paint an accurate picture of you?
Through online reputation management, you can start to take control. The toolset of this service enables you to moderate what people see when they search for you online.
If it is performed properly, online reputation management can lead to a balanced view of you or your company and can fight effectively against negative and misleading content.
Why Your Online Reputation Matters
Your online reputation is practically the same as you real world application. What people know about you online can include both your professional and personal details.
That’s because people use the internet to check for information on everything. It’s their first stop in the hunt for information.
A fairly large majority of people believe the internet is a good source of reliable information. Many hiring managers actually reject people because they found something incriminating against them online. The vast majority of people will read online reviews before they buy something. When you look at those facts, it becomes obvious that what people learn about you online can easily affect your whole life.
The Merging of Online and Offline
Each day, the lines between the online and the offline world are blurring more and more. Our phones are connected to the internet, our cars are connected- it seems like everything you do and use has to in some way connect to the internet. This allows for even more ways for your mark to be left online. That’s not always going to be a positive mark.
You might believe that people wouldn’t bother to search for you, but you would be wrong. There are all sorts of reasons someone might search for you online. These include employers trying to find out about you before an interview and landlords trying to learn about possible tenants. Children also look up their parents to find out more about them and how others perceive them. Your past partners and friends may look you up to see how you are doing, and former work associates may search for you to see if there is common ground for professional partnerships.
You may be keeping your life under the radar, so to speak, but your information is being put online, and other people are looking for it.
A Perpetual Internet
The internet will be around forever, and your reputation there will not fade from it.
People may write something about you that isn’t very positive, and, particularly if you don’t know about it, it can be incredibly damaging. It may never come to your attention why you didn’t get a job you wanted or an apartment you were eyeing.
You have to know what people are saying about you online, because most of the damage to people’s reputation comes from the way reality and reputation are disconnected from one another.
Why Is Online Reputation Management Necessary?
Search engine technology is incredibly advanced, and managing our online reputations may seem like an unnecessary task. Many people assume those bad results will go away on their own.
That’s actually quite unlikely, though. That’s because mismatched information isn’t due to technical problems but rather because of humans.
The search algorithms that Google and other search engines use try to give us the results we are asking for. If we start looking for juicy gossip and bad reviews, then their search parameters will incorporate that.
With online reputation management, the human preferences for bad news and gossip can be counteracted. This makes certain that the truth isn’t overcome by hearsay.
It is becoming increasingly important to manage one’s online reputation, because the search engines that can help people find damaging information about you are becoming a bigger part of our lives all the time.
How Does Online Reputation Management Differ from SEO?
You will see some things that are the same when you compare SEO and online reputation management, but you should also note how they differ from one another.
Through SEO, a certain website or page can be made to find its way up toward the top of the search results. Managing your reputation online, on the other hand, is a matter of controlling the kinds of sites that display your search results. The strategy used to pull off these two separate services has to be different because their aims are different.
They Have Multiple Targets
For SEO services, your job is to make pages rank as highly as you can. With online reputation management, that way sites are ranked is not as important as ensuring that certain results stay out of the first page. Through online reputation management, a series of tools are used to create a connected story that is complemented by a variety of materials.
Displacing Information as Opposed to Promoting It
In SEO, the objective is to move sites up the rankings. If a company wants people to click on their site instead of a competitor’s, then they will try to increase its ranking. With online reputation management, the objective is often the opposite- trying to get certain sites to rank lower so they will no longer be noticed by the public. Misleading information needs to be buried for online reputation management to work. The goal isn’t so much about trying to get people to click on a link or site so much as it is an effort to ensure that bad reviews or erroneous rants aren’t being seen.
The Viral Factor
In an SEO campaign, having your site go viral is a windfall. In online reputation management, on the other hand, virality isn’t always a good thing. Many times, the client is asking for something more low key to be done. If sites are going viral, then people will start digging around. This can make it harder for a reputation management service to do its job, since search volume will be so high.
The Principles behind Online Reputation Management
The process for online reputation can be quite simple, and at other times it can be very complicated. There are a few basic rules that most online reputation management campaigns follow:
Search results created algorithmically– the way in which people will discover your online reputation is determined by a set of calculations that computers control. Search engines have to guess what people will want to look for and what they would be interested in seeing.
Popularity trumps accuracy– The algorithm doesn’t know if the information is showing you is accurate. The popularity of that content is all it can really measure. So, crude photos, groundless lawsuits and clickbait content are going to trend quickly and easily, forming online reputations that aren’t really true to the facts.
Don’t search negative results– You might be tempted to look for negative reviews and find out what awful things people are saying about you or your company, but you really shouldn’t. If you do, then you validate to the search engines those negative results. You also don’t want to get your friends to visit those pages. The absolutely worst thing you could do is post negative results and links to negative pages on social media sites.
Avoid your detractors– You want to make sure you aren’t engaging with the people who don’t like you. Don’t write back or respond to people who write bad things about you. That’s going to point a spotlight on the information and bring attention to it that you don’t want. Your words could be used against you too, and you don’t want to supply your detractors with any more to work with.
Tell your story– you also need to get the truth out there and promote the side of the story that really reflects who you are. A wealth of accurate and positive content can turn the tide and get public opinion back on your side. You can do a lot of that content creation yourself, but it may require a publication team to actually determine what to release and when to release it for maximum effect.
Employ social media tools– You can use social media to fight against detractors by making positive posts and getting accurate information out there. If you are not currently on social medial networks, then you should establish your presence there and make sure your story is being told. This helps you control what is being said about you.
Keep your privacy secure– You want to keep a tight lid on identifying and personal information. Be sure to tell information selling services that you want to opt out from their sites. You can also manually remove your information from sites that have it posted.
The content will not go away– You have to assume that if content is created about you that it will last forever. Many times, the search results won’t be arranged by publication date, so the most popular content will always show up first, not the most recent. You can use this to your advantage or let it get an edge over you.