In this day and age, the Internet has become such a huge part of people’s lives that one’s online presence becomes extremely important. This applies to individuals and businesses alike. When employers try to assess a potential hire, they look for the person on the Internet. When people encounter a new product or service, they try to look for reviews online. Potential dates or new friends will look at your social media profiles. Having no online presence is bad for your career and social life. Having a negative online presence is even worse.
Why You Need to Take Charge of Your Online Presence
Online reputation is very malleable. It takes one negative post on a review site, or one scandalous outburst on social media and you will have to suffer through a very poor reputation both offline and online. Fortunately, it is this same malleability that can work in your favor, provided that you are willing to understand and protect your own reputation on the web.
Diagnosing Your Online Presence
The first step in taking control of your online presence is assessing whether you have an online presence or not, and then diagnosing if it is positive or negative. This involves simply searching for your name, company name, or brand name on Google.
But before you do this, you have to do the following to ensure that you get accurate results:
- Sign Out of Your Google Account – searching your name while signed on to a Google account will prevent you from getting a more objective view of your online presence, simply because Google personalizes local searches when you are signed on to your own account. The results you get when signed in will be slightly modified to be more relevant to your location and past google searches.
- Come Up with a List of Names That People Will Use to Search For You – this is particularly important if you have a very common name, or if you go by other names on some circles.
- Try to Read the Results that Come Up – try to look at the first two pages of results (or three or four and so on, if the first few pages are filled with spam or irrelevant content) and see if your reputation is negative, inaccurate, or downright scandalous instead of being positive and relevant.
Improving Your Online Presence
Once you know where you stand, it is time to help improve your online presence. The following methods may do wonders, or should at least give you a starting point:
Take Control of Your Social Media Presence
If you don’t have a social media account yet, then this is the step where you create accounts on relevant social networks. If you already have a social media presence, you should spend some time auditing and pruning them. This includes deleting old photos that are negative or inappropriate, posts that reference negative topics such as sexism, bigotry, drugs, or sex, or even polarizing topics such as politics and religion.
Be Proactive and Create Content
If you don’t have a website that is teeming with informative (or at least entertaining) content, now is the time to start creating one. If you want to have more control over your reputation on Google, you should create a website that can serve as the de facto source of information about your name or brand. Basically, create more content that will show up on Google if someone searches for your name.
The content you make will be instrumental in all of your attempts to have a semblance of control over your online reputation, and will be very helpful if there are other search results for your name that are either negative or inaccurate. Create content that is more relevant to your name, make sure they provide more information or value, and then wait until Google indexes them.