We live in a search-happy world. If you’ve spoken to a client recently, networked, or went in for an interview, you should absolutely assume you’re being Googled. Somewhere, someone is typing your name into that search box and making a judgment based on what they find.
When people hear this, their first reflex is to hide. Perhaps you’ve changed your name on Facebook, made your Twitter feed private or started spending less time on social media altogether. Sure, you can delete your questionable content and watch what you say online. You can fix your privacy settings and try to disappear, but that’s like deciding to keep quiet to avoid saying anything bad because you know people listen to what you say.
Your online reputation is the information people find about you online, so hiding behind privacy settings actually puts you at risk if something negative were to come out about you or your company. Make no mistake -- everyone is at risk of negative content online. Of the 75 percent of U.S. adults who Google themselves, nearly half say the results aren’t positive.
The reason is simple. Anyone can write anything about you online, typically without consequence. A jealous competitor can anonymously write a critical blog post or fill out a damning RipoffReport. An angry client can write a horrible review for your business without recourse.
Without any positive content out there to defend against digital attacks, you have no chance of keeping your online rep clean. While you’re hiding behind privacy settings and unidentifiable usernames, your real name suffers. Anything negative goes undefended, immediately rising to the top of your search results for the whole world to see.
So what can you do?
The best defense is a good offense. Here are some actions you can take right now to protect your online reputation in 2017:
Clean up your current situation.
Each person's online presence is unique -- and you can't improve what you don't know. Google yourself and see what comes up in the first few pages. If there is negative or irrelevant content showing up that you control -- weekend party pictures, old websites, etc. -- then what are you waiting for? Go ahead and delete those now.
Next, review your entire Facebook and Twitter history and flag any potentially damaging or controversial updates. Once your social media feeds are clean, you can make them public in good conscience.
Registering your name as a domain.
Registering a website with your name in the domain (like RyanErskine.com ) is one of the strongest forms of online insurance. You’ll prevent other people from taking this valuable piece of real estate away from you -- or using it against you in the future. But don’t stop there! Build out your website as a central hub of information about you, including your experience, blog content, relevant press, awards and honors.
With a website at the very top of your search results, you ensure that when people search your name, they find exactly what you want them to find. You don’t get a better first impression than that.
Secure your name across all social platforms.