Online Reputation Management (ORM) has become an essential tool for entrepreneurs, job seekers, online dating, and virtually everyone in the world. The Internet has become a global community and the first place to visit to learn about virtually everything– from which restaurant to visit, to breaking news and job prospects. We all use the internet almost every time. Online Reputation Management is simply managing how you are perceived by others on the internet.
A research conducted by GlobalWebIndex shows that an average American spends at least 6 hours a day online, that is a one-quarter of a day.
During those times we are online, our opinions and ideas are mostly influenced by what we find on the Internet. The question now is, what is the internet saying about you?
Online reputation management can be the difference between having impressive success and an embarrassing failure. Unfortunately, search algorithms focus more on popularity, not accuracy.
“We are not a truth engine. We can give you information, but we can’t tell you the truth of a thing”, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan.
The truth is, there is no one size-fits-all formula to establish the perfect balance of content, sentiment, and control. Your online reputation, to some extent, needs to be determined by your personal and professional life.
Online reputation management provides you with a strategy to actively control the narrative connected to your name. While you can apply some reputation management techniques by yourself, some will require a team effort.
Regardless of your situation, you will need first to get the “lay of the land” to develop a strategy to improve your online reputation.
The first step in evaluating your online reputation is to search for your name – the right way. If you open your browser and start typing, you will possibly get different results from what other people see.
Your search results are influenced by past searches and other factors connected to your browsing history. You may not correctly predict what others see, this is known as search predictions or Google Autocomplete.
Search predictions are possible search terms related to what you’re looking for and what other people have already searched for.
Google makes search predictions based on factors, like popularity or similarity. One way to get a search free from influence is to browse in private aka incognito.
A single search will give you a good idea of what profiles are connected to your name. Some people may search for you in different ways, which is why you need to perform a few secondary searches and then gather the results for each (just as you did above).
Search using yahoo and Bing.
These are the most commonly used search terms when someone is researching you online.
To perform this effectively, you will need to compile two different lists:
1. Search terms: What words people use to find information about you.
2. Popular results: How negative or positive they are.
You now need to determine the number of people that are searching for you, which tells you how easier or difficult it will be to influence your search results. Use a free keyword research tool to determine your search volume. There are many free keyword tools specially designed for online advertising, but one of the user-friendly tools is Google’s Keyword Planner.
Note that the search volumes you will see, as an individual may be low, compared to using generic terms of products or companies. This may be to your advantage when influencing the sentiment toward your online reputation. If you have a very unique name, it is easier to rank on the first page of Google for your name.
It also means you have to follow strategies that are not just SEO related, but specific to online reputation management.
Now you have enough information to evaluate the state of your online reputation. The next thing is to take the information and use them to answer questions:
1. What types of websites appear in my search results?
2.How many of the top websites in my search results do I control?
3. What do I want people to find when they research me?
4. Are there many people looking for me online?
5. What is the general sentiment of my online reputation?
6. Do most people find me via search engines or other web 2.0 sites?
With a sparse online presence, it means you have a relatively low search volume. Your search results are not very competitive, and there is little misleading information about you to distract searchers. This leaves you vulnerable to reputation damage. If negative content is published about you on the internet, it will easily reach the top of search results if well optimized for your name.
This type of online reputation presents you clearly and makes it easier for people to see your accomplishments. You have low to medium search volume and can still control some of the results. Search engines like to see a wide range of content. If all of your profiles and content are alike, a single negative link can reach the first page simply because it is different.
So what can you do when your online presence is incorrect or misleading? That is where a reputation management firm can help.
To handle your online reputation, you must control the information that is displayed when people search for you online.
You can do that in two (2) ways:
Your online reputation consists of the information already out there. For most people, it means your social media presence. For business owners, online reputation management also includes third-party websites that can be accessed directly.
Thus, the first step in managing your online reputation is to create a suitable presence on websites that you control. These may include:
When you search for something online, how many results do you look at? Of course, not many. Typically, when you find what you are looking for, your research ends.
Reports show that about 10% of people go beyond the first page and less than 1% move beyond the second page.
Consequently, online reputation management is not only about publishing photos, content, etc. You also need to encouraged Google to push important content to the top of the search results, where people will find it.
We’re all familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk’s famous line from the 2008 Blog World Expo. But, these days, online reputation management has taken on so many dimensions.
Here are a few examples...
Since you now understand your online status, you need to create a workable plan to enhance the information you have online.
In your ORM process, you must balance the following factors:
Ignoring any of these principles will likely make your ORM strategy unsuccessful.
Follow the steps below to build a workable, practical plan.
By now, you should have a clear understanding of the search terms people use most to find you often, including those that bring up any positive or negative results. Online Reputation Management is a long term strategy. It needs to be practiced consistently over an extended period of time to achieve long term success.
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