Don’t look now, but your name and info are somewhere on the web.
And at the end of the day, it’s that information that not only shapes your online presence, but the opinions of your friends, colleagues, bosses, customers and anyone else sneaking a peek at the skeletons in your closet.
A strong reputation has always been essential to building credibility and showing off your good side. But in a world gone digital, it’s the impression you make online that matters most.
Here’s a look at what it means to have an online footprint and why online reputation management is so important to your personal brand and professional success.
What is online reputation?
Your online reputation is not the same as your online presence. Instead, it represents the perception that presence creates in the minds of those searching your name. Comprised of every personal mention that shows up in search results, your digital footprint is what drives the quality and impact of your online reputation – how people think and feel about you now and in the future.
So, if you’ve ever shared a funny meme on Facebook, commented on a local news article or run a business reviewed on Yelp, you not only have a footprint on the web, but an online reputation that is shaping how employers, customers and loved ones are interacting with your personal brand.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management (ORM) is any strategy or action you take to build, influence and control your digital image. From removing bad search results to updating social media, ORM is how you protect and steer the conversation surrounding your personal brand, creating a narrative that makes a positive first impression and positions you for success.
Managing your rep may involve:
- Removing unwanted links and info from search
- Suppressing bad news articles
- Personal data removal
- Updating and managing social media networks
- Positive content creation
- Online profile management
- Business listing creation
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Online monitoring and maintenance
What is the purpose of online reputation management?
The purpose of online reputation management (ORM) usually depends on your unique online situation and what you’d like to accomplish. But generally, ORM services are designed to build a positive digital platform that supports and promotes your personal brand, maximizing brand impact, inspiring confidence and cultivating a positive association among your organization, bosses, customers, coworkers, friends and family to ensure opportunity and success for the foreseeable future.
In short, online reputation management allows you to write your own online narrative, writing the story that generates positive feelings among stakeholders and gets the results you deserve.
Why is online reputation management essential?
Here are 7 reasons why online reputation management is essential to protect your personal brand and pursue your online goals.
1. You are online
No matter who you are or what you do, it’s impossible to escape the clutches of Google. You may think you’re flying under the radar or have no online presence to speak of. But if you’ve ever shopped, owned a home, held a job or paid a phone bill, your personal info is out there, accessible to anyone with the will to find it.
Even if you work hard to maintain a low online profile, your name is likely on hundreds of potential sites, including:
- Public records sites. Court, property, licensing, business, birth and marriage records are not considered confidential, and are generally available on local, state and federal government websites across the web.
- Data search sites. There are hundreds if not thousands of data brokers online that do nothing but collect personal info and sell it to the highest bidder. When searching your name, you’ll likely come across such names as MyLife, com, Spokeo, PeopleFinder and numerous others offering your background info for a small one-time fee.
- Online shopping profiles. If you’ve ever purchased an item on Amazon, Macys.com or a local business site, you likely created a shopper’s profile. And though most businesses have security firewalls in place, you’re still leaving a trace of your personal info that may someday warrant an online reputation management strategy.
- Social media. Even a forgettable, years-old post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn can leave an indelible mark on your digital reputation, adding to your footprint and showing up highly in searches of your name. Carefully managing your online presence should always involve a thorough social media strategy.
- News publications. Good or bad, news coverage featuring your name or business can quickly become a prominent and even permanent fixture in Google SERPs. Local and national news sites tend to get the VIP treatment in Google rankings and have an outsized impact on your online reputation.
- Review sites. Own a local business? If so, you’re probably being mentioned and rated on consumer review sites like Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, Trip Advisor and more—platforms that get prime positioning in local search and one of the main reasons why online reputation management is so important to small business owners.
- Blogs and consumer complaint forums. The web offers disgruntled employees, dissatisfied customers, competitors and arch enemies ample opportunities to mention your personal brand or business on the web. Such mentions range from glowing to unflattering and downright malicious.
There are countless items making up your internet presence. An effective online reputation management strategy is how you corral those search results, ensuring you’re better equipped to manage negative information and build a brand you can control.
2. People are searching for your information
You may be online, but that doesn’t mean people are looking for you, right?
With phones, computers and devices becoming ever-more-central to our daily lives, punching your name into Google is faster and easier than ever. And make no mistake—people ARE taking advantage of this relatively new ability to dig up dirt and research your brand.
Check out these shocking statistics:
- Nearly 4 billion Google searches are performed each day, totaling more than 1 trillion every year.
- Almost 80% of job recruiters Google your name before offering an interview.
- 48% of employers use the web to check up on current employees.
- 1 of 3 companies will punish or fire you based on unflattering online content.
- Close to 40% always research first dates online. That same number may cancel a date due to an embarrassing item online.
- Nearly 30% of college admissions pros consider your online presence during the evaluation process.
- Almost all online consumers (97%!) now use Google to search local brands and businesses. More than a third search local companies every day.
The purpose of reputation management isn’t to limit who and how many are searching you online. That would be impossible.
But what these numbers do illustrate is why online reputation management is so important. Actively managing your online presence may not stop ongoing research into your personal brand. Still, it could provide you a little more control over what people find when they Google your name, allowing you to steer the narrative and search results to your own advantage.
3. Your online reputation is your resume
We just showed how extensively employers and recruiters use the internet to find your info. We also looked at the impact one bad item can have on your life and your career.
But where one negative search result can have on your ability to make a living, positive assets can provide a powerful opportunity to showcase your skills, highlight your experience and create an online resume that lands you the job of your dreams.
In fact, it may be easier to view your search results as your online resume, a brief but detailed list of your professional credentials that demonstrates why you’re the perfect fit for the job you’ve always wanted.
More than 70% of employers searching your name won’t click beyond page-one results. And with a strong Google reputation management strategy, you can focus on owning those results and build an online resume that gets your foot in the door.
Not only that but maintaining a good first-page reputation allows you to stay ahead of the promotion pool and advance your career when the time comes for a change.
A proactive online reputation management strategy enables career opportunity and provides an important leg up in a highly competitive job market, paying off in potential dividends well down the road.
4. Customers choose your company based on reputation
If you run a small business, you probably know how tough it can be to set yourself apart and make connections with local customers.
But pile a bad online review, complaint or negative news article onto your online rep, and your brand gets trapped behind a wall of unwanted info, lost in the noise and unable to build the trust that turns prospects into paying customers.
What’s more: 91% of 18-to-24-year-olds trust your reviews as much as word-of-mouth recommendations, while more than half of all consumers won’t consider your company if your online rating is less than four stars.
Add the fact that upping your online rating by 1.5 stars can amount to more than 13,000 more leads per month, and you can see why online reputation management is so vital to small business success.
Business reputation has always been influential on consumer mindset and decision-making. But these days, it’s your online reputation that impacts local customers the most.
In flooded online marketplace, leveraging your reputation to improve your brand and reach more consumers is the key to success.
5. Your rep stands between your personal info and online criminals
Your online reputation is what you make it.
So, when you don’t take control of what shows up in search, you’re not only allowing others to build your digital presence for you. You’re giving a green light to data brokers to sell your personal info and make you vulnerable to online attack.
There are hundreds of data-search sites across the web, each scouring public records for your addresses, phone numbers, emails and other info they can sell to anyone across the web.
Without a robust info removal strategy, those listings will continue showing up in SERPs, providing online criminals easy access to your info, which they WILL use against you.
A focused online reputation management approach helps protect and secure your personal data, ensuring things like contact info, job histories and property records are pushed out of sight.
Managing your online presence properly creates an essential, unbreakable firewall between criminals and your personal information.
6. A good rep creates opportunity. A bad one kills it
They say your reputation precedes you. What they don’t say is what it does before you’re able to catch up.
When it’s good
With a good reputation ahead of you, your personal brand is inspiring the goodwill and trust needed to connect with your audience and strengthen relationships with those that matter most.
A positive reputation promotes your attributes, protects your integrity and compels people to action, including the colleagues, partners and customers you depend on to do business and thrive in your field.
Over time, a good online rep can generate opportunity you never knew existed, providing a resource of outreach, authority and credibility that unlocks your potential.
But when it’s bad, well…
It can REALLY hurt.
A bad online image not only DOESN’T inspire confidence; it destroys it.
When hiring managers, colleagues and business partners search your name and find something negative, they’re not only less likely to take the next step; they’re more apt to develop a negative perception that lingers and affects professional interactions for years to come.
If your reputation comes before you, a bad one may be killing potential job, career and business opportunities before you even knew they were there, leaving a wake of destruction you’re forced to clean up.
Online reputation management isn’t there just to repair this damage, but to generate a positive association that puts your best foot forward while empowering your personal success.
7. Your grandma uses the internet
As of 2019, nearly 4.5 billion people (about 58% of the global population) were using the internet on a regular basis.
And the country with the most people online? The United States, with more than 95% of U.S. citizens online every day.
So, what does that mean for your online reputation?
Well, it means your digital presence is not only accessible to managers, coworkers, customers and first dates, but also to those within your inner circle. You know, the people you love and cherish the most.
Including your grandma.
And when granny, your spouse or your children start digging into your online presence, do you know what they find?
These days, there are any number of reasons why online reputation management is essential. But at the end of the day, the most important may be to preserve and protect the relationships you treasure most, ensuring they stay strong no matter what is threatening your personal brand.
How do you manage online reputation?
Managing your online presence means using every tool at your disposal to target and improve your digital footprint.
A smart reputation strategy typically involves anything from online threat identification, advanced SEO, harmful content removal and positive content creation to business profile building, online review management, ongoing monitoring, online maintenance and more.
And if your digital rep could use a little boost, we can help. As an industry-leading online reputation management services team, InternetReputation.com™ offers cutting-edge, tech-powered ORM strategies that clean up your online image and position your personal brand for success.
To learn more and schedule your free consultation, call us today at 800-758-9012.