As the majority (90+ per cent) of internet users start their journey with a search engine, it has never been more important that everybody protects their name and their business’ name, or at least understands what results are returned and how they can control what is defined as their ‘online reputation’.
Potential clients/customers, investors and anybody else you may do business with are highly likely to search for your name and business name and as such, unwanted or misleading content can restrict opportunities, damage reputations and directly impact the profitability of your business.
Where should I be looking to protect my online reputation?
Research results (from a recent Microsoft study in April 2013) show that the first three search results receive more than 70 per cent of the clicks, the first result receives four times as many clicks as the second result, and the second receives two times as many as the third.
Some 95 per cent of search engine users don’t go beyond the first page of results. However, an employer searching for information on you might be more inclined to, so it is worth searching through the first three to five pages of your search results to ensure that there is no content you weren’t aware of.
Be careful what you say
Inappropriate pictures and explicit, illegal or derogatory comments on social media or on forums you may have long since forgotten are the obvious (but key) things that are likely to raise red flags for potential customers and/or investors. Also, anything that has been featured in the news that you have been involved with could potentially have a negative impact and due to the profile of news sites, may well rank very well.
How much can be done in retrospect to clean up your online presence
Simple techniques such as removing entire social media profiles, past posts and pictures you no longer deem appropriate and change privacy settings on social media as you see fit. Online reputation tools create relevant, search-engine friendly content and in turn promote this material so that it ranks highly on search engines. Online reputation management doesn’t always have to be about countering negative reviews on Google.
Here are five simple ways to help push down misleading or unwanted search engine results.
1. Create profiles
Many sites, such as PR.com and lookuppage.com, allow you to create and display your business profile. Want to see more examples of such sites” Look up competitor names in Google and see where they advertise themselves.
2. Write articles
Writing articles expresses confidence and helps establish yourself clients as professional. At the end of the article, include the name of your company with a link to your website. This will increase your site’s ranking on search engines. What sites, blogs or publications you approach or sign up to to write articles depends entirely upon the client you’re working on behalf of, but the more relevant, the better.
3. Social media
Use platforms such as StumbleUpon and Digg to create pages that will consolidate information from various sources about you or your company. Include links to any positive online content that you would like to have rank highly on Google. By promoting positive information, you will be able to push down the negative results. Also, don’t forget the more popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter with just ten search results on Google’s first page, these two highly ranking sites are a no-brainer.
If you have a brochure/marketing video, upload it to YouTube. Yes, it’s that simple. Channels named after and including keywords related to your client will sit pretty on the first page
5. Publishing platforms
Squidoo is a great website for creating online pages that showcase businesses and/or their products. As opposed to other blogs, these sites place no importance on dates” and Google LOVES these sites. You can also use sites such as LSBlogs and BlogHub.
Roei Deutsch is CEO of Veribo.