Online Reputation Management is not an event. For many individuals or business owners, attention is first drawn to online reputation management because derogatory content has been discovered by a client or a well-meaning friend. Those who inquire are acting primarily on the initial shame, embarrassment and disgust they experience the first time a search is done and the online slander viewed. The two most common concerns we hear from prospective clients are, How long will it take to get rid of this? and How much will it cost? These questions are understandable since, prior to becoming aware of the negative postings, most businesses and individuals seldom consider their online reputation management.
As it’s difficult to understand the ramifications of online reputation management without context, the answers to these questions may make little sense. We find it helpful to set
these questions aside and begin by orienting the conversation toward better defining the need and effort required to create solid online reputation management.
As mentioned above, successful online reputation management is not an
“out-of-the-box solution.” One size does not fit all and almost every online
reputation management situation is different. Beginning to manage online
reputation for one’s self or company starts with having the courage to do a
comprehensive search, and by comprehensive, we mean by searching for all forms
of your name. Comprehensive online reputation management requires that
consideration be given not only to one’s common name but also to the respective
formal name and any designations earned. As an example, comprehensive online
reputation management strategies will look at the search results for “BILL
SMITH” in this way:
• Bill Smith
• William Smith
• Bill Q Smith
• Bill Quincy Smith
The combination of these search results will reveal different websites, content
and findings. Your full legal name will have been used on legal documents, while
other name references may reflect other ways you are more commonly known. Online
reputation management should build a framework that addresses each of these
names. When academic and other accreditations are involved even more research is
In order to address any offensive content discovered there are several initial
steps to be taken. Comprehensive online reputation management will include a
review of the Terms and Conditions posted on most websites. If negative content
is posted on a website that discloses its terms and conditions for operating,
relief may be very straightforward. If the negative content in question violates
a site’s own guidelines, then a simple request for removal may provide the
solution. Never discard the possibility of a direct answer to your problem.
However, when it comes to most issues relating to online exposure such a
solution may not be that easy, and that’s when Reputation Advocate can suggest
an online reputation defense strategy to anticipate this reality. There are also
a number of other tools that can be utilized in order to build a professional
online reputation management approach.
Another preliminary action to be taken when structuring an online reputation
management project is to own your real estate. In today’s digital culture, real
estate is defined by the digital properties that represent your name, your
digital identity. Securing these addresses insures that someone else will not
purloin your online identity. Initial focus should be given to the actual
website addresses, or URLs, that correlate with your name. By visiting a site
such as GoDaddy.com and searching for YOURNAME.com, you will immediately be able
to discern if another party owns your name as a website address. If not, this
opportunity to purchase your name as a .com, .net or .org should be taken.
Online reputation management is heavily influenced by the ability to match a
search query directly to an exact source. Regarding our example above, online
reputation management tactics would include buying the URLs:
We would also encourage you to purchase the corresponding .net, .org , .biz and
.co addresses. In fact, in this singular example there may be the ability to
purchase up to 15 URLs that could be used for online reputation management. The
annual cost for such a purchase might be $125 to $150, and from the perspective
of online reputation management the purchases might be considered digital
liability insurance. Not controlling your name limits the options available to
you should a rigorous approach to defense be required.
Basic online reputation management will also require that you secure the search
term (your name, company name, brand) on social sites. By claiming your search
term/name on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, online reputation
management efforts will be maximized. This does not mean that these sites, once
claimed, must be actively managed. (We will speak to this issue later as we
cover additional tactics for online reputation management.)
A final resource that can be utilized in assembling an online reputation
management project is to claim your identity on free blog sites such as
Wordpress and Blogger. You can think of blogs as an online platform for
advertising, promotion, education and expression. Once the above steps have been
accomplished, your online reputation management project can move forward. But
while basic sites build the simple structure needed, the process of securing
your online reputation management requires a final cornerstone – content.
The sites above, once secured, provide digital assets that will offer additional
references for the search term(s) for which you are structuring the effort.
However, content is the catalyst that delivers clear, honest transparent
information about you, your business, brand and vocation. Without quality
content, the sites built as part of an online reputation management project will
not have a strong page rank. The recent revisions to search engine algorithms
underscore the necessity that content be original. Duplicated or “spun” content
will be devalued quickly and if you post such content on your sites they may
actually be penalized in search results.
After considering the initial steps above, you may conclude that this requires
more effort than you have time to commit. But building an online defense through
online reputation management is a critical component of success. Individuals,
businesses, brands and professionals are all dependent on search results. For
many who find themselves in need of such efforts, Reputation Advocate provides
comprehensive online reputation management services. For more information about
how we can assist you with online reputation management, call 888-229-0746.