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Are you the only person in the world with your name? Probably not. We work too hard maintaining our reputations to fall victim to someone else’s mistakes. This can happen if someone with the same name as you or your company is involved in a scandal or some type of negative publicity. The reputational downfall associated with their name can affect you since you share the same name and, as a result, the same search results.

Sometimes the actions that other people take can affect your own reputation in a very serious way.

  • What do you do when someone with the same name as you is involved in a scandal?
  • How do you distinguish yourself if you have a very common name?
  • What tools can you use to monitor what is being said about your name online?

Sometimes, people with the same name as us can wreak havoc on our own reputations if they are involved in a scandal or a flurry of negative press. Let’s call them our reputation doppelgängers. When these doppelgängers (twins) come in and destroy the hard work we’ve put into maintaining a positive reputation, it can seem impossible to fix. But don’t worry – there is a way out of this. This post will aim to cover how to regain your reputation when someone with the same name screws it up for you.

3 ways to reclaim your unique reputation online:

  • Differentiate your name
  • Optimize your web presence
  • Monitor your search results

Reputation doppelgängers defined

The word doppelgänger is typically used to describe a person who physically resembles another person. Some traditions even equate doppelgängers to evil twins. This blog will refer to a reputation doppelgänger as someone who has caused damage to your own online reputation due to the two of you sharing the same (or very similar) name.

This situation is also referred to as name collision or mistaken identity, and is more common than you might think. You wouldn’t have guessed there are actually 1,038 people in the U.S. named James Bond, would you?

You’re at risk of having a reputation doppelgänger if:

  • You have a common name
  • You share the name of someone famous, like a celebrity, politician or other high-profile person
  • You have the same name as a relative
  • Your business’s name falls out of good graces due to a negative connotation or a negative news event

Risks doppelgängers pose to your reputation

Most people don’t look beyond the first page of search results, so if what they see is bad, they will form negative opinions about you. This is true even if the negative search results aren’t even about you!

This is especially important for job seekers. Hiring managers are often overworked and receive more applications than they can manage. They’re not going to investigate your search results to determine if they are truly about you. It’s fair to assume that the will believe that whatever they see at first glance when Googling your name will, in fact, be about you. People or brands with the same name as you could destroy your chance at landing a new opportunity.

Once someone that shares the same name as you has a fall from grace, their shortcomings will continue to case problems for your own reputation as long as they are showing up in search results. Luckily, there are steps you can take to reclaim your good reputation online.

Steps to reclaim your individual reputation

It can be difficult to reclaim your individual reputation if you share the same name with someone else, especially if they are high-profile. But it can be done. Here are a few steps you can take to attempt to reclaim your reputation after it was tarnished by a reputation doppelgänger.

Differentiate your name

You may be able to clean up your search results quickly if you change the way people search for you online. Think about how you want people to search for your name, and start using that variation or your name all the time. Once you decide on your name as you want people to search it, it’s important to stick to that version of your name.

Here are a few options to consider to differentiate yourself:

  • Use a nickname
  • Use your full name if you normally go by a nickname
  • Include your middle name or initial
  • Use your middle name instead of your first name
  • Change your name (drastic, but it would work!)

Optimize your web presence

Google ranks the most relevant content at the top of search results, so if you make an effort to create engaging content of your own, you can rank higher than the negative content that belongs to your doppelgänger. All of your positive content will be seen first, effectively suppressing the negative content you’d like to hide. This can be a win for both of you, since a byproduct of your work will be improving their reputation as well.

Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Create a website: Make sure your site has all of your correct contact information, updated information on yourself or your company and clearly distinguishes you from anyone else that may share your name. Include any positive news items or awards that you’ve received.
  • Blog frequently: Your blog can be a separate website or a page on your main site. Since search engines reward fresh content, blogging often can help you move up in search results.
  • Claim your social media profiles: Optimize your profiles and post regularly. Make a presence for yourself on all the main platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Crunchbase) and fill out your profile completely.
  • Request to remove negative content: This one is not guaranteed to work, but it’s always worth a try. You can request that the site owner remove content that is damaging your reputation.

Monitor your search results

We should all be monitoring our search results regardless of whether we are dealing with a doppelgänger or not. It’s the best way to stay up-to-date on where our reputation stands. By carefully watching your search results, you will be better equipped to repair them faster and easier.

Here are a few tips to effectively monitor your search results:

  • Set up alerts for different variations of your name, including common misspellings.
  • Take advantage of free tools to set up alerts, like Google’s Me on the Web and TalkWalker.
  • Don’t forget about social media. Monitor what is being said about you on social using sentiment analysis tools.

Own your reputation online

If you have a very common name or share a name with someone with a negative online reputation, it can be difficult to reclaim your own good reputation. Luckily, there are steps you can take to make sure that people see what you want them to see when they Google your name. By differentiating yourself online, optimizing your web presence, and monitoring your search results, you can expect to set yourself apart from your doppelgänger to regain your positive reputation.