Whether you’re prepared for it on not, potential customers, clients and business partners are Googling you to see what others are saying. A 2009 Nielsen study found that 70 percent of people trust consumer opinions posted online, which means that 7 out of 10 people are going to believe what is written about you online, whether or not you have created the content yourself.
As more and more people are turning to the Google, it’s vital for your business success for you to manage your online reputation. With the emergence of social media this has been made a lot easier for the average person. Here are seven super easy actions you can take now to take back control of your online reputation:
1. Google Yourself
Go on, I dare you. I hope you aren’t silly enough to think that people aren’t Googling you, because they are. It’s the first thing many people do when you connect with someone new at a event, online, in a magazine or if you have an interview/sales meeting. It’s essential to make sure that you don’t have any damaging articles or images that people might find.
2. Monitor Your Name Online
Sometimes just Googling yourself doesn’t provide all the results, and let’s face it, Google search is now somewhat personalised to each and every person. Yes, Google personalises your search results based on your past search history and your online connections. Therefore you also need to be monitoring your name online. You can do this using a handy free Google tool called Google Alerts. Sign in with your Google Account and set it up today.
3. Facebook Privacy
You have a Facebook account don’t you? When was the last time you checked out your privacy settings. Many Facebook users unknowingly have their personal profiles open, meaning anyone can see their personal information. It’s your responsibility to understand Facebook Privacy and check your setting regularly. Go through your privacy settings and make sure that most of the settings are set to “Friends” only, then be careful who you add as friends. You can also group your friends into lists which allow you to control the sharing of information to these people only. This is ideal if you want to use your personal profile to connect with business people. I recommend logging out of your account and searching for your Facebook profile (ie your name) just to see exactly what a non friend will see. Facebook also has a feature which allows you to look at your profile as a ‘friend’ or the ‘public’ would.
4. Facebook Profiles For Business
Once your profile is protected you need to make sure that it’s optimised for your business or employment success. Even if you don’t own a business we are all marketing the “Brand of You”. There are certain elements of your profile you want open and optimised whilst other parts you want closed. As your personal profile can often come up in a Google search, the areas you potentially want open are; current location, about section, contact information, websites, links to your Facebook page (if you have one) and your employment. These areas should be visible publicly so they can been seen from search results.
As a side note you may also like to create your own Facebook Page and use it just for business (or employment) related information. This will help you keep everything organised and separate, and Pages rank very well in Google.
5. Website On Your Own Domain
Everyone, and I mean everyone, including you – should own their own name as a domain. When my little sister was just 10, I purchased her name as a domain, as you never know what the future holds and domains are like property. Once they are gone they are gone. I believe you can never have too many, as they are dirt cheap. It’s also a great idea to get your name in different variations and spellings. I have nataliealaimo.com, nataliealaimo.com.au and I even have nataliealcock.com (in case my partner ever asks me to marry him). You just never know and for around $40 for 2 years in Australia it’s worth the investment.
6. Keep Your Website Current
If your website is out of date, people often think that so are you and your business. Websites have changed a lot over the years and people want to see your current news. Using blogging platforms like WordPress you can, even with limited technical skills, create your own website and keep it updated. I recommend sharing a mixture of personal and business information and don’t be afraid to share your personality. Even if you are working for someone else you can still share your current projects and insights (just check with your company first). This will allow people to see your experience and expertise.
7. Optimise for Your Keywords
Keywords are one of the ways you are found online. For this reason all of your online profiles including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Website, Google+, Pinterest and so on should be optimised for your keywords. These are the keywords people would be searching to find you including your own name and different versions of spelling. For example, I should optimise for Natalie Alaimo, Nat Alaimo, Natalie Alimo, Nat Alamo, etc. The easiest way to find out what keywords people are searching for is to use Google Keywords Tool (another free Google resource). You may be thinking that people are searching for online brand management when they are really searching for online reputation management. Ideally you should be optimising for what the majority of people are searching for.
The best way to get your online reputation under control is to just start. Start with Google Alerts and your social profiles, as we all want Google to say nice things about us.
So how is your online reputation looking? I would love to hear about your experiences with any of these tools or on managing your own online reputation.