Do you know what reputation you’re presenting through your online presence? Does it matter? And what if it’s not what you want it to be, is there anything that you can do about it? It wasn’t so long ago that these were questions that wouldn’t have even crossed your mind. However, the worldwide web now means that others can and do make decisions about us based upon how we’re presented online.
This then means that online reputation management should be a proactive process you can trust to prevent problems from happening to begin with.
Whether it’s through the search results from businesses such as Google or comments that we or others make on social media, it all leaves a trail that leads right back to our online reputation. You might be curious as to what your online reputation is or you may be looking for ways in which you can change the impression that others are given about you.
In this guide, we’ll help you see how online reputation management is now something that we all need to be aware of and understand its influence on our lives.
Is Online Information Accurate?
It’s important to recognise that anyone can set up a website for free and within minutes, they are then able to share that site and the details it contains. When you open a page or use a site from companies such as Google, there is no quality control before that detail is unleashed on the internet. No-one will check whether the information is correct before it can be shared across the world. That then means that if someone wanted to maliciously share negative content, which damages your online reputation, then it’s relatively simple for people to do so.
However, the advent of the General Data Protection Act and greater awareness from businesses of the damage that can be caused to an online reputation means that there are actions that can be taken to turn the situation around.
Now, it is entirely possible for people to take responsibility for their online reputation management, but that can often take time and there’s no guarantee that they will get the results needed. We’ll go into more details later on in this guide, but with the resources of an online reputation management company, it is possible to quickly get incorrect information removed and maliciously negative reviews retracted. Where there have been blips in the past a call with a reputation management consultant can guide you through the processes to ensure that’s where it stays.
What’s Already Online?
So, first of all, you need to know what other people can already see about you within the digital world of the internet.
Search Engine Name Search
Websites such as Google and Bing are a good place to start, Simply, type in your name and see what comes up. Now many of us tend to look at the first page of search results before moving on but don’t forget that what’s displayed isn’t static. That means the information you currently see on page two or three, could eventually end up on page one. So, you should ensure that you keep going back until the search results seem to be less and less applicable to you.
Online reputation management means always keeping the right information visible on that first page.
It’s also possible that you’re referred to within online comments made about the business that you run or that you work for. This might just be your first name but along with the job title and company details, it would be easy for someone to make the connection and relate it back to you.
Now when this is positive content then it can be really helpful for online reputation management. But, when it’s connected with something negative, such as a poor review, then it can have damaging consequences.
Online Reputation Management and Social Media
Search engines aren’t the only place where there can be influences on your online reputation. Social media now plays an important role in providing details that allow others to come to decisions about who you are and what you represent. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram the details that you and other people post online allows the reader to build an impression of who you are. Even the simple like of a business provides information about you. It’s also worth bearing in mind that this type of detail can also be shown in search results such as that from Google.
Now there are two sides to social media and your online reputation. First of all, there are the posts that you write, like and share. When these are written in a moment of frustration and without full consideration of what the implications might be, they can result in reputational problems. Then there are those which other people make about you. Either way, when the content portrays you in a less than positive light, its impact can be immense.
How Important is Online Reputation?
Friends and Family
No-one will want friends and family to have to read negative online content that’s been written about us. Neither will you want them to have access to posts that you made in the past when you were perhaps less aware of how it can influence other people’s opinions of us. We might not have considered how quickly a post can be shared globally and across social media platforms. Now a comment made between friends is out in public. Online reputation management helps to ensure that everyone can see you in a positive light.
We all hope that potential partners will come to their own decisions on who we are. But, it would unusual if that person didn’t take the time to carry out a quick online search on a search engine or social media to help them find out more about the individual they had just met.
Do you find that the first date seems to go well, then people don’t get in touch again? Perhaps they found content online or pages that you like which made them think again. Now is the time to take control of the situation through online reputation management.
Imagine for a moment that a jokey comment that you write about the company you work for is shared by others on social media. Now the business name is being tagged in and very quickly you find yourself being called in for a meeting with your boss.
Many organisations now have social media policies that prohibit the posting of negative comments about the company or brand. That then means that at best, you could find yourself on the first stage of disciplinary action, and at worst it may mean that you have limited any possibility for future promotion.
Taking on a new employee can be a risky process. Despite interviews, assessments, and profiling, there is still an element of uncertainty until that new person has proved themselves on the job. And the potential fallout can be immense with unhappy customers, frustrated colleagues, and disgruntled suppliers.
So, it should come as no surprise that many recruiters will look at an applicant’s digital profile to learn more about the ‘real them’ and to help their decision-making process. Now they can see what you get up to on weekends, the language you use, and the way in which you interact with other users. You would hope that this would lead to them forming a positive impression of your online reputation but, if there is content that you’re less than proud of, then this could be the reason why you’re still not getting that dream job.
Universities and colleges are now business enterprises. They rely on fees and industry sponsorships to allow them to function. This then means that it’s essential for them to maintain a positive online reputation. When a student posts material that reflects poorly on the college, whether by making direct comments or which tarnishes their reputation by association, then they will take action.
Once a student has been suspended or their education has been brought to a sudden finish, it’s doubtful that another education provider will want to risk that association.
If you run your own business or you’re self-employed, then your competing companies might relish the opportunity to damage your online reputation. That could be sharing negative online reviews about your business or highlighting problems from the past; if they think that it would help to sully your reputation and shift customer opinions then they could use that ammunition against you for free.
Online reputation management ensures that you quickly become aware of any problems and that action is taken to ensure that people are not influenced by negative content.
What Can You Do To Improve Your Online Reputation?
When you learn of the potential fallout from problems due to your online reputation, then it’s time to get control back again. While there are actions which you can undertake yourself, as with anything in life calling in the experts can help get the job done quicker and to a higher standard. Online reputation management companies have the experience and the contacts to get results and to begin turning around the situation for you.
Removal of Google Content
When a search is carried out on sites like Google, it shows data that has been gathered from the internet. If the search results show that a website is publishing content that is damaging to your online reputation, then you can request that action is taken to get it removed. The first stage of the process is to get in touch with the website owner and see if they will remove it.
If they refuse or fail to respond, then the next step is to get in touch with Google themselves. They will assess the request to see if it meets with their business guidelines for the removal of personal information which includes the risk of identity theft or financial fraud along with non-consensual explicit personal images and involuntary fake pornography.
Promoting Positive Content
Sometimes it’s not possible to remove negative search content from websites such as Google. One way to then manage this situation is to increase the likelihood of people finding positive resources which then contribute instead towards developing a good online reputation. This could be from using traditional marketing techniques, such as online press releases while also encouraging clients to leave good reviews.
Challenging/Responding to Negative Online Reviews
When you run a business with an online presence, then it’s essential to ensure that your brand is perceived in a positive way by your customer base. Review sites on the web can be an excellent form of marketing and help a new customer to understand the service you provide prior to placing an order or booking. However, if a search returns negative reviews and things that cause doubt in their mind about your online reputation, then it’s likely that people will turn to the services of other businesses.
Where you suspect that malicious reviews have been published, quick action is needed to prevent people from forming unfair opinions of your brand, your business, and your online reputation.
Using an Online Reputation Management Company
The internet is ‘open’ 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and so while you’re busy with your life or running your business, it can be tough to also have the resources to manage your online reputation. This is when a call to an online reputation management company can help you to focus on the important things in life while they get on with what they do best.
As their client, you will be able to trust them to take the time to understand your objectives and to learn what’s important to you. Then, most importantly, as their customer, they will be able to guide your online reputation to where you need it to be.