Online Reputation Management: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Your online reputation matters. Over 1 billion names are Googled every day – so unless you live in a cave, you’ve been Googled. And what people find there is affecting their decision to do business with you.

Why Your Online Reputation Matters

Today, your reputation has already been formed before the first handshake. Prospective employers, colleagues, friends and first dates are Googling your name to learn more about you.

To put this in perspective, 1 billion names are searched on Google every day and 77% of job recruiters are required to do a Google pre-screen before hiring you. That means, like it or not, you have been Googled at some point – by an employer, client or even by a first date.

This article was written to walk you through the process of managing your online reputation. This post will help you create and raise your best content to the top of the search results for your name, and push down unwanted content (negative, irrelevant or other people) further down the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Online Reputation Step #1: Google Yourself.

First things first: you need to perform a self-search, to determine where your online reputation currently stands on Google. This is simple, just go to Google.com and type your name into the search bar. Keep the following items in mind:

  • Sign out of your Google Account. Google employs personalized and local searches when I am signed into my account. In other words, Google will slightly alter my results to make them more relevant to me based on my location and what they know about me through my Google account. The person Googling my name won’t have this, so signing out will give me neutral results that better represent my overall online reputation.
  • Enter the name people will actually use when they search you: I use the name on my business card or resume, not the name stored in my best friend’s phone.

Online Reputation Step #2: Which Category Are You?

Once you see your results, it’s time to figure out which category that you belong to and where you stand. Decide which of these categories best represents your online reputation. It may be a combination of them all. (Concentrate on the first page because 94% of searchers never go past the first page. They use the first 10 results to form their impression).

  • The Negative Online Reputation: This is the most undesirable category to be in because it means you have one or more negative results representing you on the SERP. This category is not just reserved for criminals and politicians. In today’s world of anonymous sharing it’s become disturbingly easy to have your reputation tarnished. In just one status update, tagged photo or blog post from a disgruntled ex or former employee, your reputation goes from sterling to tarnished on Google in the blink of an eye.
  • The Irrelevant Online Reputation: Yes the results are about you, but they don’t really help or hurt you. They are completely outdated and irrelevant. Instead of an online reputation that shows that you are one of the most well-respected doctors in Boston, the searcher finds, that when he/she Googles your name, you finished 120th in a 5k run three years ago – not exactly the most relevant or pertinent information that you wish showed up on the SERP for your name.
  • The “Hey that’s not me” Online Reputation: In this case, your online reputation is dominated by other people with the same name. In a best case scenario, they prevent the searcher from finding anything meaningful about you. In a worst case scenario they might actually mistake you for someone else, like our Co-founder Pete who couldn’t get a job in college since he was being mistaken for an ex-convict in Google.
  • Positive & Relevant Online Reputation: This means that your results are full of positive, well-branded content about you. This also means you are one of the very few people who have a strong grasp on your online reputation, or you are a of celebrity, which most likely does not apply to you ; )

Online Reputation Step #3: Improve Your Results.

Once you know where you stand, it’s time to be proactive, and start improving your online reputation. Your goal is to fill your first page of Google with as many positive results as possible. Here are the various treatment options and appropriate prescriptions:

1. I don’t have a web presence, I have nothing that shows up when I’m Googled: The first thing you need to do is create the foundation for your online reputation and that means creating profiles on sites that rank high in search engines.

Top sites to start with (in order of how high they rank):

  • Linkedin
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Get Free Review
  • Zerply

While these profiles tend to rank high on their own, it’s important that you build them so that they are optimized for search engines. This part can take a good amount of time, which is why we created Get Free Review, a do-it-yourself platform that will walk you through the process of creating these profiles and optimizing so they rank high.

2. I have specific content I want to push up higher: You might already have a personal website, a LinkedIn profile, or other content you want people to find when they search for you, but they just aren’t showing up high enough.

If this describes you, then you are going to need to learn some of the ins and outs of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A great place to start is Google’s very own SEO starter guide. You can also create an account on Get Free Review and submit any links you want to show up high. Our system will automatically analyze those links and give you specific steps for boosting them higher.

3. I have specific content I want to BURY: Perhaps you have something unflattering out there about you, or you’re also being mistaken for an ex-con. Unfortunately, you can’t simply remove a result from search engines.

  • The only way to get rid of a negative result is to bury that result with positive links. Site owners aren’t required to remove it – in fact the law is on their side to keep it up. (And even if they remove it, it’s still archived by Google and it may continue to show up). Luckily, we created Get Free Review to help people in this situation. Here are some steps you can take when you create an account to bury something negative:
  • Get Free Review makes it easy to bury a negative result:
    • Build your Get Free Review profile. Our profile will rank high and help push your negative result down.
    • Submit as many positive links as you can. The more you submit, the more you can use to bury this result. The “My Links” section also helps you create new links easily if you need them.
    • Fully boost all your positive links. We analyze your links and give you Boost Steps you can take to make them rank higher. Make sure you complete every step so they will rank higher than your negative result.

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