Here are five easy things you can do to manage your online reputation.
1. Google Your Name
Admit it, we’ve all Googled our names. Make sure you are logged out of Google so you see standard versus personalized results. Think of the first page of results for your name search as your home page. Studies show the first page of results get 90% of the click-through volume. Now look for anything negative in the next 5-10 pages. If you have a fairly common name and share it with some dubious characters, start using a middle name and initial on your LinkedIn profile,resume and job application.
2. Own Your Name
When companies build an SEO strategy they look to own the first pages of results for their name, you should do the same. Some quick, easy, and free wins include:
- Get your Linkedin profile to show up first by making sure you have a custom URL with your name. In the example, Travis Pearl’s custom Linkedin URL ishttp://www.linkedin.com/in/travispearl and shows up in the very first result because the URL matches the keyword searched and LinkedIn has high “SEO” authority. Go to LinkedIn and the edit profile section and generate a custom linkedin URL with your name. While you are at it, make sure to include a professional-looking photo on your LinkedIn profile. The same picture Travis Pearl used in his LinkedIn profile, also shows up in the first set of Google results.
- Google knows Google, so company properties YouTube, Picasa and Google+ frequently show up in the first set of results for name searches. Make sure to set up and use Google+, it’s free and provides lots of options for providing links, photos, locations and other information you may want to highlight.
- You can showcase your awards online by using MeritShare. Start by setting up a public profile by simply importing your LinkedIn info. Then give some kudos to a co-worker and you both will be rewarded with some online recognition with your team play. The site is optimized for name searches, and if you set up your profile and actively give recognition, this will likely show up in the first page of results.
3. Block And Tackle
Depending on the website, the instructions for removing or hiding results vary. On a social network like Facebook you can mark specific content as public or with varying levels of privacy. To protect yourself and your friends, the best policy is to keep Facebook content limited to friends only. Premium services Reputation or Reputation Changer provide ongoing monitoring and removal of negative or undesired content associated with your name.
4. Advance the Ball Forward
The best defense is a great offense, so make sure to have some great content in the first set of results. Let’s say you find an article or mention that you want on the first page. Brandyourselfallows you specify the links you want to see advanced. You can also help by cross-linking to the results you want from your various profile page such as LinkedIn or Google+. Both have sections for putting in live links. If you have a Twitter or other social media stream you want to show off, use Vizify to turn your personal data into a stunning infographic.
5. Make Your Own Plays
Showcase your expertise in a blog post, answer a question on Quora or comment on a article. If there is a professional social network for your area of expertise, make sure you have a public profile. As you can see in the example from Travis, he has a Github profile that lists his software engineering accomplishments and contributions to open source, and a MeritShare page that showcases awards he has received and recognition he has given. On the business side, Travis has a Forbes result from setting up a profile and commenting an article. Share posts, contributions and comments on social networks because Google looks at social activity to rank order results.
Do you have any tips or tricks for managing your professional reputation? Let us know in the comments below.
Chances are high that a recruiter or hiring manager will Google you online before offering you an interview or job. Search insiders tell me that non-celebrity people searches account for more than 10% of Google’s search volume.