5 Simple Ways to Effectively Manage Your Online Reputation

July 10, 2009 by Yofred Moik


Managing  your online reputation is becoming increasingly more important these days.  The relevance of the traditional paper résumé is fading and prospective employees are more than ever graded by their online reputation. You might also know someone who was fired or was never really considered to be a good job candidate because of his or her online persona.  So what do you have to do in order to maintain a healthy online reputation that impresses potential employers and not cause their repudiation?  How can you successfully manage an impressionable online reputation from both professional and user-generated content without curbing your web presence?

1. Take advantage of online reputation management services (ORM).

Use Google alerts. This is one of the easiest tools for tracking a particular topic, enabling anyone to stay up to date with a particular word or phrase.  You may want to know when your search phrase is activated in Google's search index.  This is an easy way to track down what people are saying about you or your company.  Of course, there are subscription-based services that also help to do this like Brandseye, but Google Alerts does it as effectively without posting any fees.  Take advantage of this free and powerful tool.

2. Control the message by participating in social media sites.

Once you start tracking certain phrases that have appeared in Google's index pages, you may find certain information that you would rather not have appear in the search results.  Social media sites are optimized to be retrieved and viewed by search engines, so participating in them is a simple way to boost your online visibility.  By being an active member and emphasizing key phrases onto the six mainstream social media sites (Flickr, YouTube, Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia), search engines will generate valuable positive pages that are traced to your name.  These key phrases can be anything that you want to be linked with your name, perhaps your company name or an award you won.

3. Think twice when deciding to use your real name as your username.

An easy way to avoid potential employers searching your name and finding objectionable content is to simply be smart when choosing your username.  For sites where your words and opinions may be used against you, like some of the gawker or debate sites, sticking to a made-up online username or alias may be the difference in getting a job or not.  Occasionally, perform spot checks with Google to make sure your "clean" name doesn't reference your online mask.

Another approach is to always use your full name whenever possible, maximizing your online presence.  By doing this, however, every sentence you write on the internet becomes much more accountable to your reputation.  If you plan to use this method, you should have the ability to resist the occasional urge to participate in the juvenile flame wars. Of course, silly things can still be said, but just think twice before posting content that others may view as objectionable. Although this approach may strip down some of your wilder and carefree behavior that the online environment tends to nurture, it's always a good approach to take care of what you say as much online as you do in real life.

4. Don't let your social networking sites hibernate.

Stay active.  Many people make the ironic mistake of joining a social networking site and not stay connected.  A stagnated profile can quickly backfire if you don't keep up to date with messages, request, and stay active.  A rusty profile can effectively stifle your chances of improving your online reputation.  Keep your followers engaged; stay in the minds of your clients, bosses, and employees by not just participating in social networking, but being proactive in the site activities.

5. "Drown out" any bad content with good ones.

"Drown out" the negative content by creating positive ones and having Google pick them.  You can accomplish this by creating subdomains and active blogs.  Google especially likes to pick up sub-domains under their property (such as Google Video).   Thus, signing up for these may push any hurtful content further down on their results list, effectively reducing its visibility.

Managing a personal blog is also a very effective way, though self-arranged, to boost positive online reputation.  A well maintained blog can regularly draw job offers, you'll be surprised.  The higher it indexes on Google's search results page, the more free exposure you get. Maximizing the appearances of positive online references can help you get there.

Yofred an industrial and interaction design major that likes to keep up to date with contemporary technology and media trends.  He enjoy staying connected with the always-changing "wired" culture and is obsessively willing to participate in and interpret the new ideas that emerge from the internet.