Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation for Free
It was not that long ago that anything we did, even on the internet, was soon forgotten. Well, that is just not the case anymore. Social media and online reviews have changed that. In some ways, this can be a good thing and in others, it can be bad. While we all want to know when a company is not treating a customer in the right way, we should be able to forgive and forget. After all, it may have been an isolated incident. Additionally, ownership may have changed hands. There is a multitude of different scenarios that can happen that will turn a company around. Should a company be made to pay for a mistake that happened years and years ago? We don’t think so. There is some validity to the right to be forgotten wave that is sweeping the world. However, if policies have not changed, the same mistakes are being made, we think that these reviews should stay active. Just as with any online timeline, it is important to track change.
That being said, we are going to share with you some of the ways that you can manage your online reputation without spending a dime. However, this may be for smaller cases only. The larger cases will need an online reputation management company like ours. We have the tools and knowledge to mold your reputation into the best it can possibly be.
It seems like everywhere you turn, Google is there. There is a good reason for this. They are the best at cataloging the internet. Their web crawlers are constantly out there checking on changes to any given site. We are going to use this to our advantage.
To start off, you are going to want to put the search string in the search bar. This can be anything from your name to the name of your company. Google will return everything they have on that search string. Now, you are going to want to read everything, good and bad, that is being said about you or your company. This will allow you to get a general feel for what kind of name you have on the internet. If you find more bad than good, it is time to get to work. We will go over what to do with negative reviews in a future blog post. For now, just write down all the bad reviews that you want to fix.
Don’t forget when you are conducting your search on Google to use all different variations of your name. For example, if your name happens to be Robert, make sure to check Robby, Rob, Bob, and Bobby. Additionally, you are going to want to check your common usernames, email addresses, and even phone number. Don’t leave any stone unturned.
In order to avoid having bad things said about you altogether, consider beefing up your privacy settings. This will not eliminate it completely, but it will drastically reduce the chance of it leaking out. The reason for this is that fewer people will see your posts. Do you really need all of Facebook or Twitter to see the things that you post? In short, no you don’t. Adjusting your settings will prevent people from sharing your posts to the internet, somewhat. They can always screenshot the things you say and repost them. So, you are still going to want to be mindful of the posts that you make.
Having said the above, there is a downside to locking your social media down. This means that people that you do want to see your stuff may not. How many times have you seen a friend on another friend’s page and wanted to connect with them? If you lock yourself down too tight, that friend may not see you and be able to connect. Additionally, employers are going to want to find out about you online as well. If you don’t exist, then they will likely move on to another candidate.
The final word on this subject is that if you are a business, all bets are off. Your page is your online face. If you lock the page down, your customers will not be able to find you. That is not going to bode well for you.
We are not talking about legally changing your name. We are only suggesting that you use a variation of your name for professional matters. While others can still use the same trick and look for your other profiles, most cannot be bothered. Having two separate accounts will allow you to prevent your professional and personal lives from leaking onto each other. When you are on your professional site, you need to keep it civil. Make meaningful and engaging posts. When you are on your personal account, do whatever you want – within reason.
Changing your name can also be useful for people with common names like John Smith. Simply adding a middle name or initial will help to differentiate you from the millions of other John Smiths. This will allow you to be more searchable for employers or colleagues.
Last, but certainly not least, you need to stay vigilant. A solid internet reputation is priceless. There are steps that you can take after the initial search to continue searching even when you are not on.
Set up a Google Alert. This will allow you to set a search string (such as your name or company) that will notify you whenever someone mentions you. This is essential to do in order to stay on top of things in the future. As we said, we are going to go through the cleanup process in a future blog. Once you have cleaned up everything about your name, this is going to be even more relevant. You can set it up ahead of time to keep track of new things are coming in as you are cleaning up though.
You really cannot put a price on a great internet reputation. If you follow the advice that we have given you, then you will be well on your way to cleaning up or maintaining your professional image. When it comes time to get a job, find a client, or connect with a business colleague, then you will have all the reputation in the world to back your words up.