A lot of your personal and business reputation is online. This is becoming extremely important as more employers utilize tools to search for and analyze information about jobseekers and employees.
How in the World Wide Web can you control your reputation online? It’s not an easy task, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. There are things you can do to manage your online reputation, and it all starts with understanding what you should and shouldn’t put online.
This article will explain the following:
What is an online reputation?
How can I check my reputation online?
What are ways to manage my online reputation?
What makes up my online reputation?
Today’s online world is filled with lots of data about nearly everyone through social media, blogs, discussion boards, and more. This includes personal views and opinions about other people. The internet is constantly changing, but not every piece of data drives your online reputation.
In order to find information online, many people use search engines. The largest search engine is Google, which is by far the biggest influencer of your online reputation. That’s because most people will look at whatever Google shows as the top search results for your name. They may click on links in the search results that will lead them to content on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, or any of the other sources of information on the internet.
Those search results are what make up your online reputation. Most people only look at the first few pages of search results, so the order in which the results are displayed is extremely important. Google sorts information so that the highest-quality hits are at the top of the search results. The quality is determined by several things, but the largest factor is the number of other sites that link to individual search results. This value is weighted based on the importance and relevance of the sites listed, which is somewhat related to their reputation. Generally, the more sites that link to something, the higher Google will list it.
Huge social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram can easily generate millions of hits. Just think about the number of people who post things on those networks, and then consider that each reposting can lead to an exponential number of hits on a single post. The main point here is that while the search engine displays the results, the social media platforms generate a major portion of the hits driving those results.
Many employers search the internet to research potential employees. They look for red flags about careers, skills, and associations. Some employment sites estimate that over 75 percent of HR staff and recruiters have rejected a candidate based on search engine results, with over 90 percent never looking beyond the first page of the search results.
How to research your online reputation
It’s not hard to find information about your online reputation. Just search for your name on the internet. You’ve probably done it before, because most people do, and over half aren’t happy with what they find. Most recruiters are required to Google the names of potential employees during the hiring process.
Google and Bing are the biggest search engines currently out there, but there are others like Yahoo!, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, Baidu, Ask.com, Naver. You don’t have to check all of them, but you should look at results from more than one search engine. Scan through the first few pages of results, and view them from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know you, particularly a potential employer or business associate. In Google, look for your name in both a general search and in Google Images. You can also set up Google alerts to let you know via email when your name appears in new content.
There are many services available that will manage your online reputation for you, or you can do it yourself. If you are serious about maintaining a great online reputation and are willing to pay for it, then you can seek help from a service.
Top 10 internet reputation management tools:
Brandwatch Consumer Intelligence
Your Web Browser
The Brand Grader
Eight tips to manage your own online reputation
1. Establishing social media profiles. Social media has the biggest impact on your online reputation. Almost five billion people use social media. This means that if you want to control what people discover about you, then you must manage your social media content.
The top social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Reddit, and Pinterest. If you can create and maintain just a few profiles on the top sites, then you can effectively manage the majority of your online reputation.
2. Creating social media bios. Add a bio that is positive and shows things you would want anyone to know about you. Use a recent positive photo. Adjust the setting to keep your private stuff private. If you already have profiles, then go through them, and remove anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. You also may want to disable tagging.
Even if you’re not interested in being an active social media user, claiming your profiles on all the big social media sites will keep other people from using them. Controlling your profiles will help protect you from being mistaken for someone with a similar name or from someone pretending to be you.
3. Buy your domain name. Having your own web domain will give you a platform to get your brand out there. This is easy to do through domain websites like GoDaddy, Domain.com., Squarespace, and others. The cost for a personal web domain is relatively inexpensive and starts at less than $10 per year.
The bad news is that there are a lot more domain naming systems than there used to be. Not only are there .com, .net, and .edu domains, but there also are .co, .store, .tv, .shop, .foundation, and even .garden domains. You probably don’t want to buy all of these domains. Just select one or a few key names (e.g., firstnamelastname.com and/or .net) that you can maintain.
The more domain names you register, the better. This will protect you from someone else controlling your name online.
4. Start a blog. Once you have a domain, one of the easiest ways to publish content is with a blog. Creating regular, well written blog posts will show what you are about and help you build a positive reputation. The more you post, the higher your content will rank in Google. It’s not necessary to post huge amounts of content. Everything you create will rank higher in SEO value, especially when your name is a keyword.
Write about something you know on your blog. It can be about your job, a hobby, or just a topic of interest. Leveraging your professional knowledge is a great way to create solid content that can bolster a job search and your career. You might want to avoid writing about anything that may be controversial or divisive (e.g., politics, religion).
5. Control the conversation. Set up your blog and social media posts to allow you to screen comments. Review comments as much as you can. If you don’t have the time to do this, then consider having a professional moderator or someone you trust manage your posts and comments to protect your online reputation.
Expect to get some negative feedback. Avoid deleting every comment that is negative. This will become obvious and can cause a backlash. It’s perfectly acceptable to remove anything that contains direct personal attacks, profanity, and inappropriate language or images. It’s okay to have discussions online, but don’t get defensive and never argue online. When responding to comments, do so positively.
6. Keep your data fresh. Take the time to regularly check yourself online. Make sure anything you have posted is still relevant. If it isn’t, delete it or update it. In some cases, you may have to contact a poster or website hosting your content to have comments removed.
7. Be careful about what you ‘like'. Most social networks allow you to ‘like’ postings. Don’t like something just because your friend or colleague posted it. Read the entire post and check any associated links. You don’t want to unintentionally endorse something that could damage your online reputation.
8. Just the facts. Don’t post or repost anything you are not sure is 100% true. Posting a fake or questionable news story can easily damage your credibility, which in turn hurts your online reputation. Double check content before you post anything. There are a lot of fake news generators and rumor mills online.
Maintaining your online reputation can seem like an overwhelming job, but it doesn’t have to be. If you follow the above steps, then you can build and maintain a positive reputation that will make you and potential employers happy.
Your reputation is online in different forms of content, and employers are looking at it.
Take the time to evaluate your online reputation by researching your name via popular search engines.
Doing a few basic things, such as removing negative social media content, will help you optimize your reputation online.
Be careful about what you post to avoid damaging your online reputation.