Are You Protecting Your Online Reputation?

Does it matter what people are saying about you online? If someone is posting unkind, unflattering, or downright false comments about your or your business, it may matter a lot. Your online reputation is at least as valuable as your offline reputation, and much easier to keep tabs on. You might be surprised at how much personal information can be found about you in cyberspace. Here’s how to track and defend your online reputation…

Managing and Protecting Your Online Reputation

Are people trash talking you, behind your virtual back? Sites like Facebook, GetSatisfaction, and myriads of online blogs and forums are hotbeds for haters, complainers, saboteurs, as well as those who feel they have legitimate gripes. It’s a good idea to occasionally do a web search for your name, or the name of your business, and see what pops up. But you might want to go a step further, and do some pro-active monitoring of your online reputation. Here are some free tools you can use for that:
Google Alerts is one of the easiest ways to keep track of your online reputation (or anything else, for that matter). You can enter key search terms – such as your name or the name of your business – and Google will email you an alert every time a matching item crosses its mammoth radar screen. That may be a bit overwhelming if your search term is very broad, such as a common name like “Bill Smith”. Fortunately, you can narrow the scope of your Google Alert in several ways.
Online Reputation
First, you can limit the search to News, Videos, websites, blogs, or any combination of these categories. You can also specify that an alert should be sent on an item only if your search term occurs along with other specified keywords, i. e., “scam”, “sucks” or “bad experience”. Add negative keywords to your search, such as “-soccer” or “-australia” if there’s a well-known person (or some guy in Australia) who shares your name. Finally, you can set the frequency at which you wish to receive alerts; maybe once a day is too often for you.
A related tool is “Me On the Web”, which is part of the Google Dashboard service. You can use “Me On the Web” to get email alerts when your personal information (your name, company name, home address, email address, phone number, etc.) is posted on the Web. If you find any information that’s confidential, embarrassing, or just plain wrong, you can click the “How to remove unwanted content” link to request the removal of a page from Google’s search results.
Technorati is a search engine specializing in blogs. When you search the Technorati site, the results page includes an “RSS” button that will activate an RSS feed of all future posts indexed by Technorati that match your search criteria. On the site, you can limit your results to Posts, Videos, or Photos pertaining to your search terms.
Who’s Talkin is a search tool focused on social media sites. If people are talking about you or your company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the 60 other social sites that Who’s Talkin monitors, this service will help you keep tabs on those discussions.

Cyber-Slander: How to Fight Back

What can you do if someone is trashing your reputation online? You can ask them, nicely, to stop. If that doesn’t work, you can sue if you have that kind of money. But actually, the cheapest and most effective way to counter bad words about you is to bury them under good words about you.
It doesn’t matter what someone says about you if his/her comments are on the 11th page of Google search results; very few people are going to find them. So your best bet is to get lots of positive items about you on the Web and get them ranked above the negative talk in search engine results. It sounds difficult and it is, so of course there are online tools and specialists who will do it for you.
BrandYourself is a free reputation management tool that aims to boost the Google rankings of the links you want people to see when they search for your name or brand. It was started by a guy who was having trouble landing a job, because he had the same name as a drug dealer who showed up on Google searches for his name. Their methods are all “white hat” techniques, so you won’t get smacked down later by the search engines and end up in a worse position. You can use the free version to track and boost up to 3 links. The Premium version ($10/month) gives you unlimited links and some advanced options.
If you’re concerned about privacy, a service like Reputation.com will monitor the Web, finding and removing your personal information. Reputation.com touts their ability to suppress unwanted or inaccurate information, unfair news articles, disparaging blog posts, misleading reviews, hostile forum comments and online smear campaigns. But it’s not cheap. Services start at $49/month, and range up to $5000/year.
If you Google the phrase “reputation monitoring” you’ll find many similar services, such as Trackur, ReputationChanger.com and even Reputation Rhino. I can’t vouch for any of them personally, because I’ve not used them myself. And hopefully, you’ll never need to either.
Do you have something to say about monitoring or defending your online reputation? Post a comment below…


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Comments

  1. MmeMoxie says:

    OMG, Bob … Reputation is the key word, for any business, be it Online or Brick & Mortar!!! Bottom line … A BAD reputation has ruined many, many businesses for centuries. Good reputations, have been the foundations for some of the best businesses known today, I think of the Hershey’s company or Cadbury’s or Libby’s or Lipton’s and so on. Fro Internet/Online Businesses, it is even more paramount that they have GOOD reputations … Or simply, their businesses never get off the ground or they go “sour” quickly.
    Amazon is an excellent Online business platform. It simply works and has been a great success, in the Business World, especially, after the Big Dot Com boom!!! Newegg.com is another successful Online Business adventure. Another business, that comes to mind, a small Online one … Computer-Show.com.
    Computer-Show.com is a smaller business, that simply caters to a certain part of the Internet … Consumers who want to save money on “Off-Lease” Computers from Dell or HP or Compaq, usually Dell. I know that I have purchased several myself for my own personal use and for family and friends, over the past 15 years or so. This company still keeps the prices low, the products are in refurbished condition … Plus, they give a 6 month warranty on the computers!!! Almost unheard of, in the Used Computer arena.
    Their reputation is paramount, to them continuing doing business. In my opinion, they have one of the best, reputations ever!!! Never have I had the need to call their office, to complain about any of the computers, that I have purchased through them. Not once!!! These computers were always sent to my home, so that I could set them up, for family or friends, before that went to their chosen home. To date, since, I just purchased one for myself, last Sept 2013 … I have either purchased personally or be involved in purchasing approximately 20 to 25 computers, from this company. I am happy to say, they are still a viable, working company, with some of the best bargains, out there. 🙂
    Bottom line … Reputation is still the key word, for any business and all businesses hope they have a GOOD reputation!!!

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