There’s no telling what is going to surface on the internet about you. Between check-in “tags” and photos friends post on Facebook, there’s little anyone can do to control what third parties publish about them online. While effective online reputation management is the kind of stuff best left to the professionals, there are a number of things you can do to proactively keep your online reputation clean.
To start, Google yourself. If you think this vanity should be reserved for the amusement of teenagers, think again. Checking for what comes up when you Google your name (or your name alongside other keywords, like your current workplace or alma mater) allows you to see what information about you is publicly available. It’s the fastest and truest way to preview what other people would find – and what you might never want them to.
Tip: Set up a Google alert for your name. This will make it easier to stay on top of new content about you that gets published.
You at YourName.com
Legitimate companies have their own dot-com, and so should you. There’s no better way to make your mark than to register your own domain. For a meager $12 a year, sites like GoDaddy.com let you own an eponymous domain. Online reputation repair experts also suggest acquiring more than one domain or the same domain with .net and .org extensions.
Keep It Together
Once you’ve set up your website, populate it with favorable content. Start with a basic profile, resume, and a blog post or two showcasing insights on your industry. While it’s advisable to have an updated profile on several networking platforms, it’s more effective to keep all of your content on one site. Blogging sites like Tumblr and WordPress allow you to publish different types of content (text with photos, links, videos, photo albums, etc.) and replace your blog’s URL with your personal domain. As an added bonus, you can skip the HTML tutorials and choose one of their free templates to mimic a professionally designed interface without the cost of hiring a designer.
Engage on Social Networks
Even if you aren’t sociable in real life, investing some time in social media marketing will go a long way towards preserving an accurate online reputation. Simply building and updating profiles on the major sites – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn – already gives Google four links to include in the top search engine results pages (SERPs) for your name. Owning these profiles guarantees that the content found within will be exactly what you want it to be. Once you’ve done that, experts suggest joining Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube as well.
When creating profiles and putting yourself out there, the best way to ensure that no undesired information becomes public is to keep the content private. Websites like Facebook have complex privacy options which allow you to limit the audience for your posts. Still, it’s useful to remember that in cyberspace, nothing is ever truly private. As a basic rule, if you don’t want anyone to find out about something, don’t put it online.
TAGS: online reputation, social media, privacy, social networking