How to Monitor Your Online Reputation
In the digital age things move very quickly, in a matter of days you can go from having positive info blanketing the first page of Google to multiple negative search results. When you monitor what is being said about you online, you can catch these issues quicker and do something before they get out of control. In this chapter, we will show you a few of the best ways to monitor your reputation with the least amount of time and effort.
How Important Is Monitoring?
The real question is how important is your reputation?
Most people will go their entire life without anything damaging appearing online, we hope you are one of those people. Since you don’t know if you are one of those people, it’s important to stay on top of what is being said. By knowing as soon as possible that something potentially damaging has been posted you have a bit more control over how many people see it.
Depending on what it is you can take action quickly and have the item removed, hidden or you can respond to it. Allowing you more control over your online reputation and enabling you to respond before everyone’s mind is made up.
Imagine for a moment that you and a co-worker get into a dispute at work. Your temper flares and you say something you wish you hadn’t. Later that day you calm down, apologize to the person and you both go out for a drink after work forgetting the issue ever happened.
While you are out for a drink a different co-worker writes a post on their blog about “this bully at work” and they decide to share your name. You look like a jerk for what you said, over the next few weeks the post makes it around social media, and now everyone thinks you are a horrible person for the comment you made.
Six months later you’ve forgotten it even happened and as you are going through the interview process at your dream job the HR manager finds the post and decides not to hire you.
Now let’s rewind back to the day the article was posted, you were notified because you have monitoring set up. The next day you talk with the co-worker and let them know what happened and how you made amends. You politely ask them to remove your name from the article and they do. Six months later you land your dream job and couldn’t be happier.
While this story could be a bit of a stretch, it is not unrealistic that one day it could happen to you. When you are aware of what is being said you have more control of the outcome.
The Best (Free) Tool For Reputation Monitoring
There are a lot of tools on the market. However, most of them are aimed at enterprise level companies, and they cost accordingly. Obviously the costs keep individuals like you and me from using them. However, one of the best tools available is a tool provided by Google called Google Alerts.
For those that are not familiar with Alerts, it is a tool that will notify you anytime Google finds a new web page that contains a certain keyword. The biggest benefit is that Google is most likely the first place people will do a search for you so if Google picks up a new page you will be alerted immediately.
To set it up go to Google Alerts and enter in any terms that someone may be searching for you. Here are a few recommendations:
[your name] photos
[your name] video
[your name] embarrassing
[your name] news
[your name] arrest
If you have a more popular name, you may want to add a city or state to the search to avoid getting a bunch of irrelevant results. You will also have an opportunity to choose how often you are notified, to choose simply click the pencil icon next to the search term. We recommend “As it happens” to start then if you are getting too many scales it back as needed.
Search Yourself Out
Google Alerts will pick up the majority of items posted about you, but you’ll want to make sure to do a quick search for your name every month or see and see if anything new has appeared. You can skip Google since the alerts will pick that up, but you’ll want to do a search on Bing, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
For businesses, you have another arena where people can share their stories about you in the form of online directories. Sites like Google My Business (formerly Google Local/Maps), Yelp, Ripoff Report and the BBB give consumers an opportunity to share their stories of working with you.
To monitor these sites first you will want to find your profile on each of these sites. To do that head over to Google and type your business name and the name of the site you are looking for. You can check out our Online Directories Guide to get a larger list of sites.
Bookmark each of these pages and save them in a bookmark folder. Then once every month open the whole folder and take a quick look if there are any new reviews. For most businesses, this should take about 5-10 minutes. Optionally save all the website addresses in a spreadsheet and use our Bulk URL Opener to quickly view all the pages.
What If You Find Something Negative?
Finding negative information about yourself online is never a good thing. What often happens is people feel a rush of emotion, everything from anger to frustration to embarrassment. The knee-jerk reaction for a lot of people is to lose their temper and attempt to do something about it. This is ALWAYS a bad idea!
Instead, we recommend taking a little while to cool off, no matter the scenario your quick reaction of anger will make things worse. After you have calmed down a bit, it’s time to make a plan and take action. First make sure you do not draw attention to it. If you tell ten of your friends and they search for the page, click on it and then read it most likely it will get a boost in Google, and more people will find it.
Instead copy the content of the page and save it somewhere on your computer if you think you will need to look at it again. Next think about your options, since each case is different, we can’t recommend a blanket solution. If there is an image of your mugshot because you were legitimately arrested your response is entirely different than an embarrassing story that someone shared online.
If it’s a pretty significant issue, you will most likely need help repairing your reputation. We have put together a guide on How to Fix Your Online Reputation. Otherwise, you can message us on Live Chat, and we may be able to assist you with specific advice for your situation.
We hope this guide has helped you gain a better understanding of your online reputation, how to build and maintain it, and how to monitor it into the future. One of the biggest takeaways we hope you have is that whether you choose to control it or ignore it your reputation will exist online. Thank you for reading and please share or link to this guide.