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 “@MayorEmanuel,” 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.