In 2018, personal and business reputation is just as important as ever, but there’s a major difference between reputation management today and reputation management from years past. As you might have guessed, that difference is the internet. Specifically, it’s search engine results.
Your online reputation is an amalgamation of every item that lists your name online. From publicly-signed petitions for the good of society to publicly-available mugshots showing you at your worst, every mention of you or your brand online contributes to how people view you.
When a hiring manager wants to select a candidate, most head to Google to search each one and get a feel for their reputations. When a customer is about to spend money, nine out of ten check reviews on Google or Yelp first. That’s just how the world works in 2018, and it’s not going to change – the importance of online reputation will only grow in the coming years.
What this means for you, whether you’re a business owner or an individual professional, is that you don’t want people to see negative articles about you online when they search for you or your brand.
If you haven’t lately, Google your name and that of any business properties you own and look through the first two pages of results, then scan the images. Half of adults don’t like what they see when they do this, and you might not either.
Negative online articles defame your name. Anyone can write negative content about you, anyone can lie about you while keeping their name anonymous and anyone can see what’s said about you.
Unless, that is, you learn how to remove negative online articles and replace that information with positive content that paints a good picture of you and any relevant brands that you’re associated with. This is done with online reputation management like that provided by the InternetReputation.com team.
How to Remove Negative Content Online from Home
Some negative content is very easy to remove. For example, if the items making you look bad were posted by your social media account – such as Facebook – the matter is as simple as deleting the post.
Open the social media post from the front page of Google, log in to your social media account and delete the post directly. This is good for old photos showing you in a bad light, posts you may have reposted that don’t support your professional image and links you shared that you no longer want associated with you.
You can also remove comments made by any accounts you own with ease in most cases. When you encounter an issue removing an old comment, contact the platform’s customer support and they’ll often remove it for you.
In short, any negative item that was made by an account you control is relatively easy to mop up.
Removing Negative Online Content that You Don’t Control
When you don’t control the negative items that appear in your search results, things get trickier. For example, a business might have claimed its Yelp page (a must for any business owner), but that doesn’t mean you can control negative reviews left by customers. In fact, in this case, it’s unlikely that anyone can remove them.
The best way to handle negative reviews is to respond to them, in a timely manner if possible, and work to solve the problem, making the customer happy. Then, you can contact the customer and ask them to update the feedback to reflect your efforts to make things right.
Not all content that you don’t control will be so easy to deal with, though. Many review sites allow posters to remain anonymous, which often brings out the worst in people. Likewise, individuals and businesses alike suffer from attacks via revenge and hate websites, ill-intentioned blog posts and databases displaying private information.
For example, mugshots and arrest records are considered public property. This means that databases can legally scour the internet and compile profiles featuring your full name, address, date of birth, employment history and arrest records, along with any mugshot that you’ve ever had.
You have a few good options with posts you don’t control and have no power over:
- Contact the Website Owner Directly
Look for the FAQ and Contact sections of websites featuring negative items and follow the appropriate pathway to contact the website owner directly. Explain that you would like them to remove the content and why it should be removed, and they might just comply with your request.
- Contact Google
You can ask Google to remove any post you’d like by submitting a removal request. Of course, they respond to very few requests and only remove posts which feature offensive images or highly-personal information like your social security number.
- Legal Action
If you’re not having luck, you can hire an attorney and take legal action against the web owner. This can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 to do, and the results are not guaranteed to swing in your favor, but it’s an option.
How Online Reputation Management Can Help
The final option, not included on the list above, is hiring an online reputation management firm like InternetRepuation.com, or launching your own online reputation management campaign.
With reputation management, anything that can’t be removed can be suppressed, or buried deep in the latter pages of Google. Since few searchers ever click past the first page, let alone the second, it’s unlikely that your negative content will be discovered if it’s been pushed down to page three or four of Google search results.
Reputation management requires upward of 20 hours every week, per campaign, and it involves activities like claiming web properties, establishing an active social media presence across multiple platforms, creating useful online content that show you or your business in a good light and rebranding yourself.
If you think this sounds like a lot of work, you’re correct, but it’s more than worth the time or money spent to have an excellent image online.
Typical campaigns take between six and twelve months to successfully suppress all negative items and restore your good image online. This time can be longer or shorter depending on the severity of your situation.
Some online reputation management companies offer these services for surprisingly cheap rates, like $60/month; when you see these, be weary. No trained online reputation management professional spends 20 hours a week – that’s 80 hours a month – for $60. These companies often use black hat methods that offer short term results to fool customers.
In the course of a few months, though, the results often disappear, as Google checks for shortcut methods and delists the links that are making them change the search results. Then, your negative items are back up for everyone to see and you’re back at square one.
The Importance of Proactive Reputation Management
Once your negative items are suppressed, you might be tempted to stop your online reputation management efforts, but this is a mistake. The only way to protect yourself in an ongoing manner is by proactive management. Think of it like purchasing insurance for your good name.
At Internet Reputation, our trained team has helped thousands of clients restore and protect their names or their brands. We’ve also had clients who opted out of proactive management only to come back to square one when a new crisis occurs.
Don’t let your hard work be undone. Whether you choose to spend the 20 hours each week learning about online reputation management and handling the process yourself, or you work with us at Internet Reputation, we strongly advise proactive management.
What proactive management does is build a constant barrier around you when people google your name. Think of it like keeping your house surrounded in sandbags when you live in a high flood risk area.
We’re Here to Help
We know that not everyone has the time to manage their own reputations. Many of us rarely have a moment to spare as it is, let alone trying to clear several hours each day to work on our reputation management. That’s why we’re here!
If you’d like a professional opinion on your reputation, please call us at 1-888-591-0930 to set up a free consultation or click here for additional information.