Managing Your Personal Reputation Online: Ten Top Tips On Protecting + Amplifying You

Me speaking at a conference

If you’ve Googled yourself lately, you’re among the 75% of the population who wants to know what kind of online reputation you have. Be warned you might not like what you find. The issue is when searching for news or information, 65% of consumers trust search engine results (e.g. Google) the most. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 65% of consumers trust online search engines when conducting research on a business. You do it, so do most people. Type my name in and over 8,500 results pop up.

Your online reputation can impact every aspect of your life, both personal and professional. Employers, coworkers, lovers, recruiters and prospective business partners will most likely search you online before making any decisions about you.

If you’re looking for a new job 75% of recruiters and HR professionals have rejected a candidate based on search engine results, and 93% of searchers never venture past the first page.

We all now have a reputation whether we like it or not, whether large or small. Perception of you matters in your sphere of influence. In 2020, the world runs on the energy of social interaction and the medium of social media networks. Because of this, the image of an individual has reached a scale of access that no other generation has had to grapple with.

Issues with your personal brand can linger forever in the ether, can go viral in a matter of seconds, and you from hero to zero in hours. My advice to everyone is to consider management of your digital reputation to be as important to your well being as personal hygiene.

So what are the benefits of taking more control of your digital brand? There are four key outputs:

So How Can You Take Action To Protect, Manage + Grow Your Personal Brand?

Personal Brand Questions To Ask Yourself

1. Google Yourself

Google yourself and search through the images and results on the first three pages. Find what’s out there for people to see. Do you like what you see, hear? Something which may seem harmless can be damaging in the eyes of a potential business partner or employer. Your search results should appear professional. Alternatively, if you don’t appear in Google results and have zero digital footprint then I’d suggest creating one today. No digital footprint is not managing your reputation in 2020.

2. Consider Your Personal Brand and Goals

Now that you know what’s out there and you know how you look online, it’s time to start thinking about taking actions to influence what people find about you online. Who will be Googling you and what do you want them to see? This is your personal brand, and it’s important for anyone who wants to maintain a positive online image.

Make a list of positive traits and images you want your online portrait to show. For example, you might want to be seen as a thought leader in your respective field, a public speaker, family person, volunteer, successful business owner, or all of the above. Whatever your ideal image and brand is, first define it.

Identify the biggest influencer’s in your field. How are they using social media and interacting with their followers. What are they doing to engage their audiences? There is much to learn by taking cues from the most successful people in your respective business.

3. Claim and Create Social Media Profiles

Take a few hours and do a personal social media cleanup — make your personal sites private and erase any unflattering photos that may be hanging around on old accounts. Choose which platform works best for you and your career. Is it Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram? Social media platforms make it easier to connect with your target audience. Post a recent photo of yourself and a bio that features elements of your ideal brand image. Even if you don’t use these sites now they’re still valuable for driving SEO. This helps clarify if you have a similar name to someone or helps protect you against potential digital fraud and mistaken identity.

4. Create A Personal Website

Buy your name domain if you can and make an online website that highlights your career and accomplishments. Google’s search algorithm values fresh, relevant content and will naturally think your personal site is important when anyone searches your name online.

5. Decide What You Want To Talk About

Take time to think of what you want to be ‘famous’ for, define what the focus of your content will be and list what you hope to gain from having a well-managed digital presence. Draft a list of potential topics you care about and are knowledgeable about, read about how to create content for the platform you have chosen and then create a managed content plan to ensure a regular drum-beat of delivery from you to your chosen audience.

6. Create a Blog

Frequent, useful blog posts with a good writing style will demonstrate your expertise in your chosen fields and begin to establish you as a thought leader. Remember: you’re trying to populate the first page of Google with as much content as possible. Content coming from the source (you) holds high SEO value especially regarding your name as a keyword. As you grow your audience, guest posting on other blogs relevant to your field is also excellent publicity and will also have a positive influence on your online reputation. The secret is making sure the content is relevant to your field and something that your target audience would find interesting.

7. Be Responsive Yet Positive

Moderate any comments that you receive and respond to them in a positive manner. Don’t get caught in the trap of deleting every comment you don’t necessarily agree with. If someone has taken the time to engage with your content, look at this as an opportunity to create a conversation, not a personal attack. Review comments you might have made on Facebook or other social media websites, and delete any that could damage your reputation. Over and over again old tweets or other social media posts are dug up and used against people. This is easily avoidable and should never happen to you.

An easy way to locate content that you might not want to have online is to do an image search of your name. What comes up? If there is anything there that would make you think twice if you were a potential client; delete, delete, delete.

Sift through all your old social media profiles and photos to remove what you wouldn’t want to represent your current personal brand and avoid posting new content that doesn’t show you in a positive light.

8. Set Up Google Alerts For Your Name/Business/Industry

You’ll get notifications whenever something about you appears online and you’ll be able to address it quickly. This is key for reviews and customer comments. Let Google do the leg-work for you as it’s an easy way to keep in the loop and never miss out on important information relevant to you or your industry.

9. Leverage the relevant privacy laws in your country for your benefit

Here in the UK you can take advantage of recent GDPR laws and use them for your benefit in a tried and tested way. You can leverage these newest laws to remove a range of personal content about yourself including location, image and name from the internet.

10. Network + Put Yourself Out There

I’ve spoken at many events and offered my services as a mentor, or writer for several publications. It’s scary and time consuming but the rewards are huge and I grew to love attending seminars, conferences and events. They inspired me, kept me in touch with new trends, ways of thinking and I met a lot of people who are still in contact with me to this day.

So there we have it? What do you think about the above? Do you manage your personal brand? Would you take steps to do so now after reading this post? If you want any support in helping manage your reputation online please get in touch via the normal ways — DM me here, Instagram, LINKEDIN. or Twitter.



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Ema Linaker

Executive Director, Former @Google EMEA, @NuanceEnt and @AVGFree