Protect Your Online Reputation

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Have you Googled yourself lately? It’s entirely possible you’re not doing it often enough, as a 2010 stat showed that less than 50% of folks did regularly. But chances are you’ve conducted an online search on someone else. Whether it’s a prospective employee, someone you just met or a potential business partner, looking up information on the Internet is one of the first steps many people take when trying to learn more about others.

It’s imperative you stay on top of your digital image and learn how to protect your online reputation. According to a recent infographic from KBSD Digital Marketing, 78% of recruiters check search engines on potential employees, and half of recruiters and HR professionals refer to personal websites when deciding whether or not to hire you. They’re looking at photos, trying to find unflattering or incriminating information.

So while it’s simple to suggest not to ever put any content out there that may offend others, the reality is that many of use enjoy and utilize social networks because people are sharing personal information about their thoughts and happenings.   Here are some basic tips to help you control your image while still maintaining a positive online presence, thereby ultimately protecting your online reputation:

Always Consider Your Online Footprint: Consider that everything you post or any picture that appears of you online is available for the broad public. There are many who refuse to ever have a photo taken of them holding an alcoholic drink for example. Although you can lock down Facebook privacy settings, if you’re on Twitter, be aware that anything you tweet is easily searchable, so be leery of taking any potentially controversially viewpoints or stands.

Focus on Positive Communications: Take steps to create your own brand by highlighting activities and thought leadership in areas you want to be associated with.  If you want people to see you as someone who appreciates the arts, ask questions about or post information from art gallery openings or symphony concerts. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can change others’ perceptions of you by focusing your observations and sharing on specific areas of interest.

Control Your Information: Take advantage of privacy settings wherever you can. Don’t trust Facebook, Google or any other social network or photo sharing service to have default settings exactly how you want them. If you will be posting information or sharing photos that you would never want the public at large or future employers to see, make sure to restrict access to your accounts and content.

Know What’s Out There: Google yourself, check what’s going on.  Pretend you are someone who knows nothing about you and see what kind of info it leads to. See what’s on the first few pages of search results, make sure to see what images are out there associated with a search for your name. And if you’re an individual or a small business who finds information online that you’d rather wasn’t there, consider using one of these services to help manage your online reputation:

Reputation.com offer free scans to help you find information online, with an option to subscribe for $100 a year to help them keep your reputation clean. For those that do have information they want to remove, prices to get that info removed or changed from Reputation.com will enter the thousands of dollars range, with it being even more expensive if you have a common name.

BrandYourself helps make entries you want to highlight more visible in search results than those you may want removed. As an example, the company shows how you can boost visibility for your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles (with content you control) to appear before potentially negative information, such as divorce settlement records. Brand Yourself attempts to make the process much simpler and user-based than Reputation.com, offering “do-it-yourself” tips and free profiling and alerts. The free version of the platform will help optimize up to three links and track the first page of Google search results for your name. For $10 per month, you can boost to unlimited links and track the first 10 pages of results.

Integrity Defenders helps individuals or businesses remove negative comments or content from the first page of search results of the most popular search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo1 for a little more than $600, and even offers to push the content off the first and second pages for twice that price.

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About author

Johner Riehl

Johner Riehl is a freelance writer focusing on families, technology and online safety. As founder and editorial director for FamilyFriendlyApps.com and FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com, sites that provide reviews and recommendations geared towards families, he examines hundreds of family-friendly games and apps every year. He’s also host of Parent Savers, a podcast aimed at helping parents of newborns, infants and toddlers. TWITTER: @FamilyTechDad

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