If you are new to search engines and SEO techniques, you might be shocked by the number of ways they can be used. You will eventually see a number of public relations style services and you may very well wonder: what is internet reputation management? Why does this matter? After all, does what you post online about yourself or what is posted about you really matter if you aren't working "online?" You might be surprised.
What is Online Reputation Management?
The term "reputation management" was coined in 1997, with the advent of a number of services that were helping people and companies monitor and maintain their brand or reputation online. Since then, it has become an entire industry; countless companies, organizations, and public figures have found themselves in a compromising position to the world because of something they did, online or not, that has accidentally leaked out for the public. Fortunately, restoring or rebuilding a reputation has become possible, and there are a number of ways that this can be done. Your online reputation is far more important than you might think. Many competitors, vendors, and consumers do look at your online footprint to determine what type of company you are and whether you are the type of business they want to work with. This goes for really anything nowadays, as these people will likely be researching your latest Tweets, blog posts, and status updates; any application for a school or certification is usually accompanied by a search on you, who you are, and what you've said online. If you think your record is spotless, think again - many people who are under this impression still have a multitude of pictures, posts, and information online that might be questionable to anyone searching, even negative.
What You Can Do About a Poor Online Reputation
Fortunately, there is an abundance of ways to combat this new, evolving practice. Just as you have built your name, image, and reputation online, you can also alter it, adjust it, and fix it into one that is positive and professional in ways that matter to potential searchers. A wise idea is to comb your social media sites for anything that may be questionable, graphic, raunchy, or unprofessional - you don't have to delete every picture you have documenting your silly costume on Halloween or privatize every picture of that beach party where you were in your swimming clothes; you do, however, need to delete pictures that suggest you drink, smoke, or party excessively, posts that are offensive or childish (even innocent jokes or comics), as well as anything that jeopardizes your image as one that is immature, unprofessional, belligerent, and unsuitable for the job, degree, or certification application you have.
This may seem like something that only applies to individuals. However, no consumer or vendor wants to know what your employees do outside of work, especially if they don't represent your company well. Personal online reputations are especially critical for smaller companies, where folks can easily be talking to the boss or one of five people who work there. If it can be said the 20% of a company likes to party hard on the weekends, then that's not a good notion or rumor that you want out in public.
But if you are applying for an executive level position in a large company, you can bet that every word, every photo, and every opinion, both good and bad, will be picked up, picked apart and used to keep you from climbing the corporate ladder. That is why it is important to be mindful of what you post and if necessary, to have a reputation management team to handle damage control.