8 Steps to Fix Your Online Reputation Now
By Sharon Graham.
The internet can be fascinating and flattering when people say nice things about us. However, when things take a turn, it can be quite distressing. If anyone has ever said something negative about you online, you’ve probably felt entirely exposed and vulnerable. This type of attack can seriously affect your self-esteem and hurt your personal ambition and drive. What’s more upsetting is that employers and recruiters make judgments about you based on this information – truth or lies – before they ever meet you.
It is extremely difficult – if not impossible – to remove damaging information about yourself from the internet. If the information is fabricated or untruthful, ask the organization or person posting the content to remove it. Be professional and state the facts – often the offending poster will immediately edit or eradicate the erroneous information. If they do not comply and you are adamant on having the content removed, you may need to take legal action. However, it’s best to try to negotiate a good resolution as a lengthy battle may prove to be hugely time-consuming, costly, and frustrating.
The best way to address such “digital dirt” is to post new material to displace the detrimental content. As time progresses, you’ll find that your new information will have pushed the old content down in search rankings. Be patient. It may take some time, but eventually the offending material will fade away and be forgotten.
Here are some steps you can take to fix your online reputation:
- You may find it beneficial to create a personal website to regain control of your online reputation. If you are not technically inclined, retain a professional to develop the site for you. Optimize the website to your name to ensure that when people Google you, they’ll find your site. Include a meaningful portfolio of information about your background and expertise so that people stay on your site and learn what you want to tell them about yourself.
- If you are a strong writer and you are knowledgeable in a topic of interest to potential employers, clients, and colleagues, create a blog. Disseminate your expertise by writing topical posts. Be completely committed to your blog to ensure that it works for you. Post content regularly and you’ll find that your Google search results will gradually improve.
- If you feel that a personal blog is too much for you to handle, provide “guest posts” on a specific subject. Approach industry-related sites and newsgroups to see if you can write for them from time to time. The exposure on these sites will help to position you more visibly within your own target market.
- Actively build your name and internet presence on social networking sites. Join LinkedIn Groups and participate actively. Always put effort into each message you post, giving good, thoughtful information. Soon you’ll become a valuable resource to the group and your posts will become more visible to the people you want to influence.
- Answer questions on forums related to your expertise whenever you can. LinkedIn is a great source of business-related questions that need to be answered. You’ll find that many colleagues and other professionals will have posted questions that you can answer confidently.
- Flood the internet with more good information that comes directly from you. Work on consistently adding new content to various sites. Comment on blog posts and reputable news articles. When commenting, give constructive insight. Use your real name and link to your website, blog, or LinkedIn profile. This will raise your personal reputation as well as your ranking on the internet.
- If you have serious issues with your online reputation, you might want to retain a professional reputation management firm. For a fee, they will identify and potentially eliminate concerns on your behalf.
- Once you have cleaned up your internet presence, set up a series of Google Alerts on key phrases such as your name to monitor new content. By keeping on top of new entries, you’ll be able to keep your online reputation clean and clear.
You can turn around your online reputation. Rather than fighting against the internet, use it to your benefit. Focus on the future, rather than dwelling in the past. Consistently work towards building your name and credibility in your area of expertise. In no time you will develop a superb online reputation and personal presence.
Sharon Graham is CANADA’S CAREER STRATEGIST and author of the top-selling BEST CANADIAN RESUMES SERIES. Founder and executive director of CAREER PROFESSIONALS OF CANADA, Sharon is committed to setting the standard for excellence in the industry. A leading authority on resume, interview, employment and career transition, Sharon provides career practitioners with tools and resources to enable them to provide exemplary services to Canadians.