This month's post has been written by Christian Hamilton with the added bonus of a great infographic on how to check your brand presence online.
In a lot of ways, the Internet is still like the wild west, and it’s hard to believe the world wide web we use today is only around 17 years old. Things change quickly, especially when technology is involved. Surprisingly though, while we “Google” things like how to bake the perfect cookie and how late that local store is open until, we often forget to check on our own brands.
You as an individual are a brand, and your company is its own unique brand too. Both need to be monitored for accuracy and for potentially damaging material that could exist with or without you knowing. If you’re not actively monitoring your search results, it’s like someone is talking behind your back. Luckily, like a good friend, Google can tell you what’s going on if you’re willing to listen.
Not surprisingly, those who do find potentially embarrassing or damaging information, monitor their results more frequently than those who don’t bother to check. Discovering information too late, however, could have a long-lasting impact on your character, business sales and much more.
What if you Google yourself and you don’t find anything? Well, according to ReptuationManagement.com, “having no web presence can raise suspicions and potentially be just as damaging as negative content.” You’ll want to build up properties that accurately promote and help your presence and reputation online. Local directories, social media profiles, and partnership pages are just a few of the ways you can accomplish that.
Providing a good user experience within the web properties you own and manage is critical. An outdated website with poor navigation, for example, can lead to people questioning the authenticity and professionalism of you or your company. Your information on the web may be accurate and not be hurting your online reputation, but your website and social media profiles could be.
Just like you’d fix a broken step or repaint the exterior and interior of your house or business, you need to do the same when maintaining your presence online. Before someone fully knows you, your search results and website may be where people are doing most of their research about you.
It doesn’t stop at first impressions either, you’ll need to make sure your web properties are secure and safe. In a 2012 study from Sophos, they discovered that roughly 30,000 websites are hacked every day. Small business websites and those which have outdated CMS or content management systems like WordPress are even more vulnerable than larger entities.
Getting started is easy, search for your name, nickname(s), and business name(s) in separate searches, and explore 3-5 pages deep. Take note of what comes up, and if someone is using your information without your permission or slandering you. Make sure to address the issues and incorrect information as you find it.
It’s okay if some results aren’t explicitly about you, so long as someone else with the same name hasn’t been a lifelong criminal. If this is the case, you may want to work on improving the results by hiring an online reputation company.
Before you get too busy and forget, Google yourself right now and see how you fare. Set yourself some calendar reminders for once a month or more frequently depending on the size of your business and your level of involvement in various activities or news sources.
Consider setting up Google Alerts for your name and business name to get automatic email alerts when a new mention is detected online. This tool can be invaluable for discovering negative reviews or other potentially harmful information in a timely fashion so you can respond and make things right.
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