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How Your Online Reputation Can Help You — or HURT You!

by Jeff McLinden

Building a strong brand for your organization means taking care to build a strong online presence and reputation.

Everything you do or say these days has the potential to end up on the Internet. The world of George Orwell’s book 1984 is far more of a reality than any of us care to admit.  And recent revelations about the NSA’s phone monitoring program has left many wondering just how “exposed” they are.

Here’s the good news…  It is possible to control the way we are seen on the Internet, at least to some extent, through online reputation management (ORM). This involves monitoring what is said or seen about a person, brand or company on the web, encouraging the visibility of positive information, and suppressing any negatives.

Monitoring Your Online Reputation

Basic Internet reputation management begins with careful monitoring of all mentions on the Internet. This means keeping careful track of search engine results for key terms like your name, address, company name or brand name.  Anywhere that your name could show up is a place that needs to be monitored, not just Google. Remember that there are all the social networks and other search engines that can turn up different results.

In addition, if you have a business or organization, the information you find on directory sites, such as Manta, Yelp and Merchant Circle may contain inaccuracies that could literally cost you business!

The Basics of Building a Good Reputation Online

As you go about building your reputation online, there are three basic keys to remember…

  • Regularly post positive content. You need to make sure that the information you want the world to see is the content most visible on the Internet. Regularly publishing your own content in a variety of places increases your visibility online and lets people know who you are and what values or messages you represent.
  • Keep your private information private. The best defense against any future problems online is to keep private information hidden from public eyes. Either don’t post that type of information online in the first place, or check your privacy settings everywhere to make sure you are limiting who can see your details.
  • Deal quickly with any negative information. If you do find that there is something inappropriate, nasty or unflattering about you out on the web, you’ll have to counteract it quickly. Don’t let a piece of negative content get entrenched in people’s minds or, even worse, go viral.

Basics of Dealing with Negative Information

It is probably inevitable that something about you will show up somewhere at some time that you don’t want anyone to see. Even if it is nothing particularly earth shattering, you may want to get rid of it or hide it from the world. Your main options will be to try to delete it or to push it down in the search engine results. By dominating the results with positive content, people are far less likely to see that one item that might embarrass you or cause the wrong impression.

It doesn’t matter if you are an individual, a small business, or a large corporation. You still need to be concerned about your reputation on the web since everyone uses the Internet to search for information. One negative review, comment or photo can affect you for years to come.

Monitor your online reputation carefully and take control of how the world sees you.