Computer Monitor Mouse World RetroEverything you do or say these days has the potential to end up on the internet. The world we see in movies like Blade Runner or The Matrix doesn’t seem as much like Science Fiction now. However, it is possible to control the way we are seen on the internet, at least to some extent, through online reputation management (ORM). This involves monitoring what is said or seen about a person, brand or company on the web, encouraging the visibility of positive information, and suppressing any negatives.

Monitoring Your Online Reputation

Basic internet reputation management begins with careful monitoring of all mentions on the internet. This means keeping careful track of search engine results for key terms like your name, address, company name or brand name. Anywhere that your name could show up is a place that needs to be monitored, not just Google. Remember that there are numerous social networks and many search engines that can turn up different results. As you go about building your reputation online, there are three basic keys to remember

Regularly post positive content. You need to make sure that the information you want the world to see is the content most visible on the internet. Regularly publishing your own content in a variety of places increases your visibility online and lets people know who you are and what values or messages you represent.

Keep your private information private. The best defense against any future problems online is to keep private information hidden from public eyes. Either don’t post that type of information online in the first place, or check your privacy settings everywhere to make sure you are limiting who can see your details.

Deal quickly with any negative information. If you do find that there is something inappropriate, nasty or unflattering about you out on the web, you’ll have to counteract it quickly. Don’t let a piece of negative content get entrenched in people’s minds or, even worse, go viral on the ‘net.

Basics of Dealing with Negative Information

Negatives Positives Board Shows Analysis Or PlussesIt is probably inevitable that something about you will show up somewhere at some time that you don’t want anyone to see. Even if it is nothing particularly earth shattering, you may want to get rid of it or hide it from the world. Your main options will be to try to delete it or to push it down in the search engine results. By dominating the results with positive content, people are far less likely to see that one item that might embarrass you or cause the wrong impression.

It doesn’t matter if you are an individual, a small business, or a large corporation. You still need to be concerned about your reputation on the web since everyone uses the internet to search for information. One negative review, comment or photo can affect you for years to come. However, controlling the way the world sees you is far easier than you might expect. By taking specific actions, you can manage your online reputation and create a consistent brand and image that bridges both the online and offline world. Crafting your message and delivering it to the world online is just another component of content marketing. Some would argue that it is one of the most important business strategies you can use. Use these 5 easy steps to start building your online reputation:

Step 1: Assess Your Current Reputation

Start by doing a thorough assessment of your current online reputation. Conduct searches for your full name, company name, brand or other key phrase in Google and other search engines. Focus primarily on the first 2 to 3 pages in Google’s results. Put this information into a spreadsheet, listing the URLs, position in results and your comments on what’s in that URL. I’ve created a worksheet to help you with this process. You can download a copy here.

Step 2: Identify Changes Needed

Look through each of the results on your spreadsheet and identify things you want to change. If there is anything negative, mark that as a priority to either delete or push down farther in the results. For results that contain key information you want to promote, mark those as items you want to move up in the rankings.

Step 3: Determine Your Best Arenas

Now look at what is showing up most in your results. Are your highest ranking urls from Twitter and Facebook? Maybe you show up more on a personal blog or in YouTube videos? If so, these are the types of places where you can publish more information about yourself and influence your reputation. At the same time, be sure to identify places where your target audience hangs out. You want to be seen and heard in the places that are most important for the type of reputation you want.

Step 4: Create a Reputation Strategy

With information about your current reputation in hand, you can now craft a strategy for building the image you want. Focus on both the what and the where of your content and message. What type of content will serve you best? This might include blog posts, press releases, articles for directories, tweets, Facebook pages, or interviews. Then decide where this content will be published and how. This might include which social networks to focus on, high traffic blogs, news sites, your own blogs and video sites.

Step 5: Start Building

The last step in building your online reputation is to follow through on your strategy and start creating your content and promoting it in the search engines and elsewhere with SEO techniques. Be sure to have your name, brand or company listed as the author on each item published, so that you get credit for it. As you create the content that will influence your reputation, continue to monitor search results online. Track your progress and keep tabs on all mentions of your name and key phrases so that you can quickly respond to anything negative.

Once you have assessed your current online reputation and have a firm strategy in place, you can easily take control and manage the way you are seen on the internet. Keep your message consistent across all your content and you will be building a solid base that will help you both in your business and personal life.