What’s in a Name? Online Reputation Management

Ever Googled yourself – or are you too scared? Chances are, like many of us you may be intrigued to know what the internet has to say about your online presence. Curzon looks at how to get the best out of search engine results and managing your image online.

Unfortunately for some the Internet’s has rather an unforgiving memory, so images posted online during your student university days might have an annoying habit of popping up on search results. Or perhaps your company has received some negative comments about their products or services that feature right where you don’t want them – on the first page of Google.

Your online reputation is determined by search engine results. This includes positive reviews, comments (negative or positive), images (tasteful or distasteful) or blog posts. Whether it’s your own personal image or your company’s brand and reputation, it’s important to keep an eye on your online reputation.

Online reputation management (ORM) is all about establishing yourself as a credible, authoritative resource for whatever it is you do, and keeping the most relevant, useful results about you or your business on the first page of the search engines. Just about every transaction starts online now and if a prospective or current client sees something negative about you or your business as a top result, then you are taking a huge risk of losing that opportunity, and many others.

There are a number of ways of managing your online reputation, whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional – it’s important that you do maintain it. Many PR and Marketing agencies now offer these services and in some cases there are specific businesses who solely deal with these projects.

However, if you want to maintain your own online reputation, here a few key tips:

Claim Your Brand Name
Whether your ‘brand’ is your own name itself, your business name or your product name, you need to make sure that no one else has control of it – check who owns what domain names and which ones should be yours. Sign up for as many user accounts as possible – focus on the top 10-25. The best ones to go for are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora, Tumblr, YouTube, Foursquare and Yelp.

Manage Your Brand Name
The 80-20 rule applies to these accounts as it does with many other things in business: the top 20% of these services will account for 80% or more of what is most effective. With each of these listed accounts, you MUST (at the very least) complete your profile 100% by adding some content, a photo, your info and links to other websites/accounts of yours.

Monitor Your Brand Name
Monitoring search results, blog posts, tweets, status updates and other mentions online can be extremely difficult and time consuming. Fortunately, there are some fantastic tools available for businesses to properly monitor their brand name. Set up Google Alerts to automatically email you when a new mention comes up in the results. On top of that, check the search results at least once a week for your brand name to always keep a pulse on what these search results are coming up.

Maintain Your Brand Name
Keeping your brand name and online reputation completely spotless can be challenging if your business has had a chequered past. In the case where you do happen to come across something that is less than favourable for your company, immediate action needs to be taken so your brand does not suffer from the wrong kind of publicity.

Top Tips for Removing or Burying Negative Search Results

  • If you can, simply remove it from your site/blog
  • If you don’t control the content, then send a request to the site’s webmaster
  • When the content has been removed, expedite the removal of the result by using the Google URL removal tool
  • Create profiles (top ones mentioned above) to help push negative results off of the first page
  • Post client testimonials on your website, blog, forum and social media profiles to bury negative comments

The best thing you can do to protect, manage and monitor your brand and online reputation is to post a lot of really good, interesting, useful content. This content should be/could be about pretty much anything that has to do with your business, clients, products, solutions, challenges, etc. There are literally thousands of things you can write about and post online. In addition, content does not just need to be text. Content can and should be videos, photos, podcasts, e-books and newsletters as well.