How to Rate a Company’s Reputation

If you could have a “Nielsen’s Rating” of reputation, what would it look like? Well, the Harris Poll, owned by Nielsen, has the answer in the form of the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient. This is a yearly poll that gauges the reputations of the largest, well-known companies in the U.S.

Here are the six dimensions they measure: products and services, financial performance, vision and leadership, workplace environment, social responsibility, and emotional appeal. The goal is to help corporate leaders manage their company’s reputation among the general public. But the Harris Poll also publishes the list of the top 100 companies, so you and I can see how they rank.

For example, the top five companies with the best reputations for 2016 are Amazon, Apple, Google, USAA, and The Walt Disney Company. At the bottom of the list was Volkswagen Group, due to the recent scandal involving emissions tests. Comcast came in at a sorry 97 because, well, it’s Comcast.

Now, it’s likely that you’re not a multi-billion dollar company with thousands of employees. So should you care about the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient? Sure, the things they measure can be important when you’re in the public eye. But Acme Car Repair in Any City, USA is not going to show up on Harris Poll’s list of reputation rankings.

It’s just a fact that, if you’re not a well-known company, brand, or celebrity, you’re not likely to have any kind of reputation among the general public. Your customers know you, your suppliers may know you, and a few journalists who cover your industry or area of expertise might also be aware of your existence. But outside of that circle, you just don’t register on anyone’s radar.

And that’s where your online reputation comes in. Because, if someone doesn’t know much about you, they’re going to Google you.

When we talk about online reputation management, we’re not talking about the kinds of things that the Harris Poll looks at. We care about what someone finds when they do search on you or your company. That’s the point where your prospects begin to gain a sense of what your reputation is, mostly by seeing what other people say about you online. And since this could be the first exposure they have to your company, it had better be a good impression.

Curiously, one of the things the Harris Poll evaluates is someone’s “willingness to say something positive, and intent to purchase or recommend your products and services.” But you can easily find that yourself. Just look at the first couple of pages of Google search results and see what people actually say about you. No need to poll them about their intentions. The good, the bad, and the ugly of their recommendations is all right there for you — and everyone else — to see.

So a simple way to rate your reputation is by looking at the number of positive search results on the first page of Google. You’ll get a number like 6 out of 10 positive, or 9 out of 10. The higher the better. You can give it a fancy name like Search Results Online Reputation Quotient, but it comes down to the same thing. Managing your online reputation is then a matter of getting more positive results to show up above the negative results. That can be a challenge, but that’s what we’re here to help you with.

5 Steps to Controlling Your Personal Online Reputation

Personal reputation management is a growing trend, and has been for awhile as corporate professionals and business owners continue to realize the power of building their own brand.

Controlling your personal reputation online depends on what you’re trying to achieve and how much time and effort you have to put into it. Get started managing the brand of you with these basic steps.

1. Register your name across all major social media accounts.

Thanks to the advent of social media, potential employers and anybody who wants to learn more about you can find you pretty easily. Control what appears in search results by owning your name in all the major social platforms, including:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

If you work in a field with an industry-specific social network, register your name there too.

2. Set up privacy controls.

Most social platforms give you privacy options, so only yourself or connections can see certain information on your profile. Set your privacy setting to the equivalent of “Friends Only” or “Friends of Friends Allowed.”

Additionally, you may be able to adjust the privacy setting of individual updates. But a word of caution: privacy controls don’t stop your friends from sharing your posts, so a photo you thought was between you and the guys could suddenly affect your job search if the guys are sharing it publicly.

The best way to make sure no one sees anything you don’t want them to see is to never let it go online in the first place.

3. Be active enough.

If you’re not active on your social accounts, they won’t show up in search results, leaving lots of room on the first page of Google for other things to appear. Sharing, commenting, or posting something new at least once a week on the major social platforms should be good enough for basic personal reputation management.

If you are an executive in your company or trying to build thought leadership, you need to be a lot more active–at least one post on each network and plenty of shares and comments daily.

4. Own your branded domain name.

In addition to social media accounts, exact and partial match domains tend to show up well in search results. So when people search for “John Smith” they are likely to see results like JohnSmith.com, JohnSmith.net, and JohnSmith.wordpress.com as well as John Smith’s social media accounts.

If you’re just trying to control how you appear online, you don’t necessarily need to add any content to the website. You want to own your own domain name so no one else can use it. But if you have the time, it doesn’t hurt to create a blog or portfolio on your site to show off your skills and build your brand.

5. Use personal homepage sites to pull everything together.

Buying domain names, getting hosting, and setting up a website costs money. If you don’t want to spend much to manage your personal online reputation (or if you’re a college student and don’t have much to spend), you can use personal homepage sites like About.me or Flavors.me to create a hub for all your content online.

These free pages tend to rank very well and include a short bio, a photo, and links to your social accounts. You can even attach your branded domain name to the personal homepage to give it more weight in search engine results.

And here’s a new video I did with Online Reputation Management Tips:

Celebrity Online Reputation Management: All About Social

When you’re a celebrity, you’re always in the spotlight. And sometimes that spotlight is a little too bright. We’ve all seen celebrities break down, makes embarrassing gaffes, and get caught in compromising situations. Even though we’re all human, and we all make mistakes sometimes, when you’re a celebrity, everyone sees your mistakes and immediately puts them on the web, which can tarnish their online reputation.

When a potential fan Googles your name, you don’t want them to see a heap of bad press and negative reviews of the work you’ve done. So, the first step toward a positive online reputation is to not do anything bad or embarrassing in the first place. But even if you have a clean background and rehabilitate wounded puppies in your spare time, there will always be detractors out there who want to tarnish your name through their blogs or online reviews.

Google News

First of all, if you’re a popular celebrity you may have a Google news spot at the top of your search results. This spot will feature the most recent and popular news about you and is determined by Google algorithms that keep that content constantly changing. This means that that top spot is very hard to control and it’s always changing. However, if you can continually get press for positive things you’ve done, this spot should stay relatively free of bad press.

The Bottom 10

Although the Google news spot is basically out of your hands, you can control the next 10 links fairly easily be leveraging the power of your fanbase.

Clearly, you should have an official website where you can publish updates, news, announcements, press photos, and more. And depending on what you do, you should establish official profiles on all the major social networks. You can easily fill the next handful of links on a Google search with links to your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and others. Additionally, make sure you appear in online listings appropriate to your profession, for example, IMDB, Last.fm, and others. And, if you are a true celebrity, your Wikipedia page should appear in the results as well.

Simply including the majority of the above mentioned properties in your online reputation management strategy should fill most of a SERP for your name. Next you’ll need to turn to other online platforms where you name is mentioned. For example, look for unofficial fan sites (which will generally be all positive information about you), news articles in major publications, articles on popular blogs, and more. Once you’ve identified the most positive content about you on the web, all you have to do is point your fans in that direction through your social media accounts and it won’t be long before those properties rank well in your SERP.

Social Strategy IS Reputation Management Strategy

Building and maintaining an active social presence is the best way to control your online reputation. Not only will active social media profiles rank well in the SERPs, but if you have an active and engaged fanbase, they’ll do your reputation management for you. All you have to do is share links to positive information about yourself on the web with your fanbase and they will retweet it, share it, like it, and write about it on their own blogs and fan sites. The increase in links and mentions to the information you have shared with your fanbase will result in that informaiton ranking well on Google. And that is how you can fill the bottom few spots on SERP for you name.

So, in the end, reputation management for celebrities really is all about social media. Social media profiles will fill up the majority of a Google search, and maintaining an active social media presence will help you leverage your fanbase to get other favorable information about yourself on the web to rank well in your SERP.

Expert Advice as an Online Reputation Management Strategy

Over the last year, the online search world has been pretty drastically shaken up, and Google has changed a lot of its policies to weed out what it has determined are low-quality linkbuilding practices. As such, reputation management used to be a pretty simple game to play, but it has become harder and harder to shape a perfect SERP, and it is taking more effort to do so effectively over the long term.

But the war can still be won. Just because Google has changed its policies doesn’t mean that it is impossible to create a great SERP for your brand. It just means you have to change your strategy. And Google is continually leaning more toward “quality” as the biggest ranking factor. In other words, Google is moving in a direction where they are trying to determine the highest quality websites—not based solely on the number of links that point to them, but rather their overall quality as a website. This means that the best strategy from here on out is simply to have a really awesome website. And if you can have a really awesome website, Google will rank you higher and more people will link to you and publish favorable content about you, creating the great SERP you always wanted to build with your reputation management strategy.

So what does that mean for your strategy? Well, one way to build an awesome website is to become an expert and set yourself apart as a leader in your field. Although that sounds hard, it’s actually much easier than you may think. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1) Blog

Putting a blog on your site is a great way to bolster your online reputation. If you run a business, you are an expert in some sort of field. And there are people out there who want to know about that business and what advice you have to give them. So publish posts about what your company does, tips and advice on best practices, lessons you’ve learned over the years (or months) that you’ve been in business. If you can become a hub of knowledge for people in your industry, you’ll get people quoting your blog, linking to your content, and writing about you in other online publications—all giving you great fodder for your reputation management campaign.

2) Give away your knowledge

People love free stuff, especially if they find it useful and valuable to their lives or professions. Whatever field you are in, you have the opportunity to take your knowledge and turn it into tangible pieces of content that can be shared and posted throughout the internet—excellent for your reputation management. For example, you can create downloadable guides to your industry or publish embeddable infographics or slideshare presentations that give useful advice to people in your industry. As these useful resources are promulgated through the web, your devotees will build links to your website and push your content all over the place, building a great online reputation for you.

3) Guest blog

Its easy to publish resources on your own website, but in order to really create a great reputation online, you’ll need to reach out and start building relationships. One way to do that is through guest blogging. Find blogs that have to do with your industry or profession and offer to write a blog post for them about your experiences. For example, there may not be a lot of websites out there devoted to the cosmetics industry, but you can seek out a number of blogs about professional leadership and management and blog about your experience as a manager or your list of top leadership skills. Then you can mention your company in the post and link that blog post back to your professional profile on your company website. People will then see you as a reliable source and your company as a positive influence.

4) Discuss

Another way to build relationships for reputation management is by participating in professional online forums for your industry. For example, LinkedIn has a number of professional forums for all kinds of industries and professions. Join these groups and be active in them. When you do this, you’ll be building relationships with other professionals who are excited about your industry. And if you can give good advice, you and your company will come to be seen as a resource. When you are seen as a resource, you’ll get more links to your site, people will cite your company online, and more—all adding to the strength of your online reputation management strategy.

The secret to making your brand an online expert is simply getting out there and publishing information and building relationships. You don’t have to be the leader in your field in terms of sales—you simply have to be willing to share your insights with others. And when you can become an online expert in your field, your reputation management strategy will take care of itself.

4 Things College Students Can Do to Protect Their Online Reputation

This is the first generation of young people to have a searchable online history that dates back to their pre-teen years. Never before in the history of the internet have so many people had so much information about themselves available online and accessible to just about anyone with a wi-fi connection and Google.

If you are a college student that means it’s very easy for people to find you online. Which can be extremely helpful if people need to contact you or if you’re doing some really great work and have a positive reputation that future employers and college recruiters can access. But having that much information about yourself available online can also be a bad thing if you have a history of angry blog posts, a portfolio of pictures of yourself drinking in Tijuana, or social media posts that brag about how easy it was to cheat on the last Biology test.

Today, more than ever, young people need to learn about and be aware of online reputation and how it can be managed to create a positive online reputation that can aid, rather than hurt, your chances of future success. So here are a few things for college students to keep in mind as they strive to keep their online reputation clean and presentable to the world.

1. Be social

Some young people may think that the first step in cleaning up your online reputation is to close all your social media accounts. That is false. Having a variety of active social media accounts is actually a really good because it gives you a better chance of being found online when someone searches your name. The key is to control your social media profile so that they help you, not hurt you.

Think about your social media profiles as auditions for future jobs or internships. Is there anything on your current profiles that would be a turn-off for the recruiter for your dream job? If so, get rid of it. And start posting content that is positive, useful, and unique—content that displays your talents and personality. Then when those important people start looking for you online, they’ll find someone they want to hire.

2. Create content

Another way to build a great online reputation is to create content. Blog, design, build widgets—whatever, and post them to a central location, like your own website. If you are creating unique, sharable content on your website, you’ll make it much easier for people to find you online, see what you really do, and understand the talents you have. If the content is truly sharable, your site will rise in rank, and your website will gain traction for your name, creating a positive online reputation.

3. Get involved

Another way to spread your positive online reputation is by getting involved—both online and off. Online, take part in forums and online groups that fall within your niche. Get to know group members, comment, and ask and answer questions. The more you can show your knowledge and willingness to help, the more people will look to you as a resource and link to your website, social profiles and more, all of which will help you build a stronger online reputation. Offline, attend conferences, volunteer at non-profits and more—and make sure you get your name listed on the website as a participant or volunteer.

4. Be smart about what you share

Once you’ve cleaned up your profiles and created positive relationships and great content, be careful what you share in the future (and what others share about you). Think of your online presence as something that needs to be curated and pruned from time to time. Be mindful of what you post and make sure that other people are not posting photographs or information about you online that could damage your reputation.

Overall, think about your online reputation as a reflection of your ideal self. It’s not that you have to be serious and straight-laced all the time. Just make sure that when you post to your social profiles or personal website, the content reflects the personality you want to display to the world—your best self. If it’s not currently doing that, clean it up. And start looking toward the future as an opportunity to create an online reputation that you can be proud of.

4 Reputation Management Tips for Millennials

The US population ebbs and flows just like the ocean. After WWII there was the baby boom, when the US saw the highest birth rate it had seen since it’s founding. Since then we’ve seen Generation X and the Millenials (Generation Y). The Baby Boomers are getting older now, and they are settling down, retiring, and becoming empty nesters. The Gen Xers are in their mid 30s to late 40s—in the middle of their careers—but the Millenials are just getting started. And growing up in the internet age, surrounded by technology and endless accessibility to data, has given them a different perspective on information sharing and personal reputation not shared by older generations.

Boomers aren’t interested in learning new technologies unless it helps them talk to their children and grand children. And Gen Xers are pretty tech savvy, but they understand that technology is simply a tool and a proxy for interpersonal relationships. Millennials, on the other hand, have grown up sharing all types of personal information online through social networks, blogs, and more.

Where Boomers aren’t concerned about online reputation, and Gen Xers are aware of how damaging it can be. Most Millennials have yet to face the consequences of bad reputation management. And for a generation that has shared so much online, that’s a problem.

However as they leave college and enter the workforce, the problems of sharing anything and everything online will start to become apparent. Not only are prospective employers cruising social networks to check out job applicants but being easily found online is quickly becoming a mark of prestige. As a result, negative and embarrassing online content is a bigger liability now than it has ever been in the history of our culture, and a lack of being easily found can be a sign of lack of experience and engagement.

So it is now the tricky job of Millennials to walk a fine line between sharing too much information and sharing just enough content online to build a positive reputation. Millennials have to be vigilant reputation managers of their identity like no other generation has been. But they can get things straight and cultivate a positive online reputation if they start early and follow a few basic principles.

1) Be mindful

First and foremost, Millennials need to be aware that what they do and say online matters. In high school it’s easy to think, “I can do and say what I want, no one cares.” But you have to keep in mind that the thing you didn’t think was important four years ago is still there, and people you want to impress can find it easier than you think. So the first step in cultivating a positive personal reputation management strategy is to only post positive content to social networks and blogs. Don’t post embarrassing information or (heaven forbid) brag about doing something illegal or unethical.

2) Get a head start

Because most Millennials are not concerned about these things, those that recognize the importance of reputation management have a fantastic opportunity in front of them. Grab up as many personalized online properties as you can while you’re young. And hang onto them. For example, personalized social profiles, name specific domains, and more. You may not need to use them now, but one day they will come in handy. And you want to grab them before someone else does.

3) Create

One of the best things you can do to cultivate a positive online reputation is to create content. That is, start a blog, curate content through your social networks, and become an influencer online. Even though you may still be young, start building a professional profile now. Colleges and future employers will be impressed with the work you’ve done so early in life, and you’ll be a shoo-in compared with applicants who aren’t aware of their online reputation at all.

4) Take care

As you look toward the future, think about reputation management as you go about your digital life. Look toward the future with a goal of being easily found online (for positive reasons) and work toward it. If you don’t take control of your online reputation, then your carelessness will. Stay on top of new technology and new platforms as they arise so you can always be ahead of the reputation management game.

6 Reputation Management Tips for Independent Marketers

Independent marketing is tough, but it can be extremely rewarding for people with the right skills and personality. Although a lot of people look at multi-level marketing as a hard way to make money, taken with the right attitude, independent marketing can be an exciting challenge with huge payoffs.

One of the most challenging aspects of independent marketing is getting your name out there for people to see and making sure that, when people search for your name online, they see something positive about what you are doing and how you can help them.

And that’s where reputation management comes in. Not only is reputation management important for people who may be associated with negative information online, it’s also a way to create an online presence that will help you gain a better reputation in the world, allowing you to make more connections and grow your income. Let’s take a look at a few ways online reputation management can help you as an independent marketer.

1) Go to conferences

Not only are conferences great for meeting people, making connections, and learning about how to better market your product independently, they’re also a way for you to get your name on the internet. These conferences will often publish attendee lists online, as well as award recipients, speakers, and workshop moderators. When people search for you online, they’ll see that you were part of a conference, and that will increase your credibility and reputation.

2) Take part in charities

Although a large donation might get you listed on a charity website, you probably don’t have large cash reserves to throw at these organizations (yet). Better yet, do some volunteer work and get yourself listed on the website as a volunteer and an important part of the organization. Charity work is never a bad reputation booster.

3) Become a sales resource

First, you can get yourself listed in any number of sales and marketing resources. And these listings will show up in search results. Second, become a resource. Create a website with a blog where you can talk about your experience, give advice, and point others toward helpful resources. If you act like a professional online, people will treat you like one in real life.

4) Make a video

Videos tend to rank very well on Google and other search engines. The video doesn’t have to be long or have a $15 million budget. It just has to look professional and give great information about who you are and what you do. If you do it well, and add your name to the video title, there is a good chance it will do well in the SERPs, and you will get some great reputation benefit from it.

5) Grab personal domains

Before you get too far into your independent marketing career, make sure you snag a domain name that reflects your name. It’s best if you can buy a domain that is an exact match for your name, like JoanSmith.com. But you can also try looking for alternative domain extensions, like JoanSmith.net, JoanSmith.org, or JoanSmith.me. Alternatively, try other variations of your name, like Joan-Smith.com, JSmith.com, JASmith.com (“A” standing for your middle name), JoanSmithSales.com, JoanSmithBrand.com, and others. Buying a domain like this and creating a site around it will make you easily and readily recognizable online.

6) Be Social

If you haven’t already registered social profiles to use professionally as an independent marketer, do it right now. Sites like KnowEm can be a great help to automatically register your name on many social sites. These profiles tend to rank very well in the SERPs, and they allow you another channel to build a client base and communicate with them regularly.

Looking to the Future: Reputation Management for the Corporate Professional

Today, most professionals will not only switch jobs and companies up to 10 times in their working career, but they’ll most likely switch professions a number of times before they retire. The days when you could get a job at a company and stay there for 20 years are pretty much over. Today’s workforce is more mobile and more open to changing job titles, duties, and companies to fit their lifestyle and life goals.

Because you’ll most likely be changing jobs a number of times over the next 20 years, the reputation you build at a single company won’t be worth much as you look for other opportunities—or if other opportunities come looking for you. That’s why it’s important to start cultivating a great online reputation now, so you can be ready for the future. Solid reputation management starts with you, and here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you boost your reputation and look toward the future.

1) Claim your profiles and domains now

Don’t wait until you build up a reputation to claim your social profiles and personalized domain names. A great place to do this is KnowEm. Do it now. By the time you have a name that’s worth something, someone else may have already snagged your usernames and URLs. For example, create a Facebook profile (and maybe even a “fan” page) for yourself, as well as Twitter profiles, LinkedIn profiles, and more. Not only will you own those personalized accounts so no one else can grab them, but they tend to do very well in the SERPs, letting people who are searching for you online find you easily.

2) Watch what you say

Before the digital age, you were allowed a certain leeway in your public discourse. Even if you said or wrote something stupid, chances are that those statements would be hard to find by potential employers and no one would really go looking for them anyway. However, today everything you write or publish on the web stays there. Forever. And not only your statements, but the statement of people who might write about you. Keep things clean and professional, and you won’t have to deal with damaging comments later on.

3) Give stuff away

Part of building a good reputation online now is creating a network of positive online references to you and your work. In this vein, find blogs that pertain to your profession and interests and write posts for them. Offer to give them interviews, data, graphics, and more. When people search for you online and see that you’ve given content to others and have been mentioned in a number of places on the web, they’ll get the impression that you are someone worth doing business with.

4) Contribute

Not only should you get yourself mentioned on blogs and other websites, but you should contribute to the discussion. Find places online where other professionals like you hang out and hang out with them. LinkedIn groups are an excellent location to find other professionals. Join forums, groups, and social networks that pertain to your personal goals and ask questions, give answers, point group members to great resources. When you can build a positive reputation within these circles, you’ll build a positive reputation online in general.

5) Get listed

There are plenty of directories and lists out there that you can contribute to. Find directories that list movers and shakers within your field and ask to be included. (Of course it helps if you’ve already done many of the things listed above.)

6) Be vigilant

Lastly, be vigilant of your online reputation. There are a few free tools that you can use, like Google Alerts, that will notify you when your name is mentioned online. When you see these alerts, check out the reference and thank the person or organization for mentioning you. If the mention was not positive, work with the individual to resolve any problems that may have occurred. If you can fix these little problems now, you won’t have to face them in the future when someone important is searching for you online.

Own Your Name: A Key Tactic for Reputation Management

Just about everyone carries identification. We usually carry a driver’s license, a credit or debit card, maybe a library card, or any other number of cards that display our name and possibly our image. Personal identification became a necessity when people started to travel more easily at the beginning of the 20th century.

Before widespread travel, everyone in the town or area you lived knew who you were. So there was no need for you to prove who you were. But as people started to travel more and intermingle with strangers, it became too easy for someone to give a false name, pretend they were someone else, or generally lie about their real identity. And because identity was so easy falsified, it became necessary for people to use identification so they could prove they were who they said they were.

The internet is now at a similar point. It’s so easy for anyone to hide their identity online, or assume the identity of someone else, that it is imperative for your company to claim its name online in as many forms as possible, in order to prevent fraudulent use of your name. Or, from a more pragmatic approach, to prevent a rival from claiming your domains and profiles first

Here are 5 tips for claiming your name in order to protect your online reputation.

1. Claim personalized domains

If you are doing reputation management for a company, you’ve probably already purchased these. Not only do you need to own yourcomapny.com, but also other domain extensions, like yourcompany.net, .org, .tv, and more. Owning these various domains will keep others from buying them up and pretending to be you. But it will also have the benefit of allowing you to create microsites or informational sites about your company that can appear in the SERPs and push down more negative links.

If you are an individual, make sure your snatch up your firstnamelastname.com domain—if it isn’t already taken—and then consider buying other extensions as well. You can use these domains as blogs or as hubs for your identity online.

2. Register branded social profiles

Social profiles tend to do very well for both company and individual name searches and can bump negative content out of the search results. But more importantly, you want to protect your online reputation by making sure someone else doesn’t claim these profiles and use them for their own purposes. A great place to find the majority of the social media sites is KnowEm.

In fact, just last year, a prankster registered the profile @MayorEmanuel on Twitter and commenced to tweet as if from behind the scenes of Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel’s election campaign. The profile gained a number of followers who thought they were following the real Rham Emanuel, only to find out it was a hoax.

Claim all your branded social media profiles immediately, so something similar doesn’t happen to you or your company.

3. Monitor your Wikipedia page

Although Wikipedia has in some instances been proven more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica, it’s still a playground rife with fraud and misinformation. If you don’t have a Wikipedia page for your company (or if you are famous enough to warrant a personal Wikipedia entry) go ahead and create one before anyone else has the chance to do it for you.

However, keep an eye on it. Because Wikipedia is an open community, any editor can change the information on your profile. If this happens, make sure you correct the information quickly and alert the Wikipedia editorial board if malicious acts are being perpetrated against your page by other users.

4. Grab business listings

Another great place to claim your name is on business listing websites. Search local and niche directories for instances of your business or personal name and create listings that reflect your actual information. These can also be great places to link to your main website, blog, or other web properties and help them rank better in the SERPs.

5. Don’t forget variations

Lastly, don’t forget about variations of your business or personal name. For example, if you are a car blogger, purchase domains like yournamecars.com or yournameautoparts.com. For social profiles, think about various ways you could be represented online, like [email protected],” so that you can avoid unnecessary confusion over fake profiles. It’s also a good idea to hold on to common misspellings of your personal or company name to avoid potential problems as well. You can even use those misspelled domains as redirects to your main site, so you can capture anyone who is looking for you online.

Although there are many aspects to reputation management that will keep your SERPs looking good, you can avoid potential disasters by claiming any and all instances of your company or personal name online before anyone else does.

A Quick Guide to Online Reputation for Parents

Although we were all kids once, today’s parents may have an even harder time understanding their children than nearly any generation in the history of the world. Never before has technology moved so fast, and never before has the world changed so much in the span of only a couple decades. It’s a fact that kids today are growing up in a world that is extremely different than the world their parents grew up in. In fact, if you are the parent of a teenager today, chances are you didn’t even know what the internet was until you were well out of high school.

This is part of the reason teenagers get into so much trouble online—their parents never had to deal with this technology and many of them still don’t know how to use it as well as their kids. Besides the obvious dangers of strangers, piracy, and pornography online, teenagers today also have an increased chance of ruining their future online reputation due to things they post online today.

It’s not something we talk about very often, but parents need to help guide their children toward safe and positive online interactions now, so that their online behavior won’t come back to haunt them in the future. Primarily parents need to work with their kids to learn, monitor, and teach.

Learn

Because most parents of teenagers today didn’t have widespread access to the internet when they were young, it can sometimes be hard to identify with the tech-savvy youth of today. But just because you’re not a digital native doesn’t mean you can’t learn to communicate like one

Primarily, parents need to be aware of the technology that exists, what it is capable of, and how to use it. If you are not already on Facebook—join. And join other sites that your kids are using as well. The best way to learn about these technologies is to use them yourself. As well, stay abreast of the latest trends in online web culture. When you hear about a popular new site, check it out for yourself. It’ll make it easier to talk to your kids about it and help them understand how to use it responsibly.

Monitor

Knowing about these sites and using them isn’t of much use unless you know what your kids are doing on them. It’s a good idea to follow your kids online, and make it a requirement that they let you follow them as a condition of joining. You don’t have to monitor every conversation they have or every link they post, but you need to be able to check in every once in a while to make sure they’re not posting inappropriate photos or posting comments that could be harmful to them down the road.

A growing number of employers check out potential employees on social networks before they hire them and many college admission officers are beginning to do the same. Already at this young age, teens need to be aware of their online reputation and the real-world impact it can have on them. And you can help them develop an awareness of their online reputation while they are young, so they will develop positive habits they can carry into adulthood.

Teach

Once you know how to use social networks and follow your kids’ online activities, you need to help guide them to make good decisions. Although the internet appears to be a vast playground where you can do anything you want without consequence, that is hardly the case. Teach your kids to be mindful of their online reputation today, and they won’t run into problems later. For example, teach them:

  • Not to post inappropriate photos of themselves online—photos where they appear partially clothed or participating in dangerous or illegal behavior.
  • To treat others with respect online.
  • To keep their blog posts clean and professional.

Learn Together

Teaching your kids about online reputation hazards early is about opening a dialogue and having an open and frank discussion about what is and is not appropriate online etiquette. When the two of you can sit down and understand the pitfalls of irresponsible online behavior, you’ll be helping your teens shore themselves against future embarrassment and negative consequences.