It means taking control of the online conversation. Its techniques and strategies ensure that people find the right materials when they look for you on the Internet. It is becoming so pervasive that it’s almost time to drop the word “online.” Essentially, your online reputation is your reputation, professional and personal.
Here’s why; The Internet is our first stop for everything.
1. Two out of three people see the Internet as the most reliable source of information about a person or a business.
2. When looking for a product/services/business, 97% of people read online reviews.
3. 70% of hiring managers have rejected a candidate because of something they found online.
Looking at statistics like these, it’s clear that what happens online affects your entire life. With each passing day, the online world becomes more and more enmeshed with the rest of our activities. From smartphones to smart TVs, from the “Internet of things” to the self-driving cars of the future—you are living each day increasingly online, even if you never touch a computer.
Depending on your needs, online reputation management can be a relatively simple, straightforward process, or it can be complex and multifaceted. Regardless, most ORM campaigns follow a few general principles:
Search results are algorithmically generated.
Your online reputation is determined by complex calculations run automatically by computers. After all, nobody has time to take in all the information that’s out there, so search engines and social media sites make educated guesses about what people will find interesting.
Popularity over accuracy.
No algorithm can tell whether information accurately reflects you or not, so popularity becomes the main measuring stick. That’s why embarrassing party photos, frivolous lawsuits dismissed years ago, and other kinds of irrelevant but intriguing “click bait” often dominate online reputations.
It can be tempting to visit the negative pages in your search results over and over again. Don’t. This tells search engines that the page is relevant, driving it up in the results. For the same reason, don’t tell all your friends to go visit the page. And under no circumstances should you link to it on social media or from another website.
Don’t engage with detractors.
If someone writes something unflattering about you, don’t write back, don’t post a comment, and don’t refer to the offending item in online forums. All this does is send more attention to the issue you don’t want seen. There’s also the danger that truly malicious posters might take your response and twist the words against you. Why give them additional ammunition? It’s better to fight their taunts with radio silence.
Get your story out there.
You can only promote the materials that are out there. That means you need a solid base of positive, accurate content to improve your online reputation. You can do this yourself to some extent—starting a blog, posting YouTube videos, etcetera—but you may need a publication team in order to affect competitive search results.
Use social media.
Not on Twitter? Sign up, using your full name as your handle (e.g. @johndoe). Are you active on LinkedIn? Make sure your resume is up to date. Social media sites often rank well in your search results, and you control the content they display, so they can make a big difference to your online reputation.
Protect your privacy.
Keep tabs on the personally identifiable information about you posted online. Opt out of services that sell your personal information, and remove your data from people-search sites. This makes it less likely that sensitive personal details can be used to hijack your online reputation.
Assume everything lasts forever.
If something has been published online, it’s potentially part of your permanent online reputation. Search results aren’t arranged chronologically, so old news items, outdated information, and stories from years ago can continue to rank if they’re seen as relevant by search engines. This can work for or against you.