Whether you’re a multinational company or an individual, it’s vital to protect your online reputation. Here we examine some common sense measures all of us should be taking, whether we’re trying to reach new customers online or impress prospective employers. If you think this advice doesn’t apply to you, you’re sadly mistaken. A poll by ExecuNet recently revealed that a staggering 90% of recruiters admitted to searching for background on potential candidates online. Online footprints can make or break careers, not to mention the dangers of online security threats like identity theft.
Questionable tweets, Facebook photos and out-of-date LinkedIn profiles can have a direct impact upon a candidate’s employment prospects. Negative search results appearing at the top of the page can be very persuasive in putting off potential customers or employers.
#1 Google yourself
This isn’t vanity. There’s no point spending hours polishing your CV if negative press is the first thing a prospective employer will see when they search for you. Always presume that potential employers will Google you – you need that first page of Google to say only good things. When Googling yourself, make sure the personalized search result setting is turned off (this tailors results to those Google thinks you’ll find most relevant taking into account criteria such as social networks and your location). You should look through all of the search results: though most customers or employers won’t bother looking past the first page of Google if page 1 is positive, there’s always the risk that content on page 2 could bounce up to page 1 suddenly. If that content reflects badly upon you, this could cause you significant problems.
#2 Be proactive
It’s far easier to deal with any negative press if you’ve already taken the time to build up a strong online presence. Ideally, a prospective employer searching your name should find a number of positive results, such as LinkedIn endorsements, projects you’ve worked on – even your charity work. The next best thing is not finding anything about you online at all, but be warned, where you have no online presence at all, any negative press is going to go straight in at number 1. Online stories or social media profiles might not relate to you at all, merely someone of the same name. Of the recruiters polled by ExecuNet, only 27% raised concerns about material found online with candidates and gave them the opportunity to explain.
#3 Own as many slots as possible
Reputation Defender recommend building profiles on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Search engines like Google view these results as authoritative, meaning they have a strong chance of hitting the first page of results. By setting up, optimizing and maintaining profiles on the main social networking sites, you can create a positive online reputation; even acquire a following. Claim your URL on Facebook to prevent others doing so, potentially diluting your search engine results, and reducing the risk of mistaken identity. Filling out your social media profiles as fully as possible and linking them to one another gives them yet more of a boost in the Google rankings.
#4 Optimize your profiles
This is particularly important for LinkedIn. Marketing expert Nick Parham recommends writing your LinkedIn profile in the third person as this sounds more professional. By using your name in your LinkedIn profile you are reinforcing to Google that this page is highly relevant and helping it to feature highly in the search results. Your full name should be used at least twice in your profile; it’s important it features at the beginning. You can also feature your name in the headline. It’s vital that your profile reads naturally, so for later references stick with either your first or last name. Incorporating other keywords in your LinkedIn profile and headline which describe what you do is particularly helpful, as is getting others to refer to those keywords in their recommendations.
#5 Buy domains that incorporate your name
When ranking content, Google gives a lot of authority to words contained in a URL. If the URL of a website, blog or page contains your name, the chances are that Google will rank it at the top of your search results. By buying more than one domain you’re preventing others from acquiring them, and reducing the chances of mistaken identity or identity theft.
#6 Build an online reputation but share with caution
While we’re discussing building an online reputation across as many sites as possible, it’s important to remember that personal information such as your full date of birth and telephone number should never be incorporated in your social media profile – revealing too much leaves you vulnerable to identity theft.
Reputation Defender help millions of customers worldwide to build and maintain a positive online presence. Get in contact with us today to learn how our team of advisors use their expertise in online reputation management to achieve the best results for our clients.
Icons courtesy of Jurgen Apelo