Control Your Online Reputation

Discover essential strategies to control your online reputation, from leveraging SEO to manage negative feedback to enhancing your digital presence. Learn practical steps for protecting and improving your eRep in the digital age.


Alex Zar

3/19/20245 min read

woman biting pencil while sitting on chair in front of computer during daytime
woman biting pencil while sitting on chair in front of computer during daytime

The High-wire Act of Online Identity

As exhilarating as it is, cultivating an online identity is scarier than walking a tightrope strung above a money pit. In the age of digital wildfire, where reputations can be made and broken with a single tweet, it has never been more important to maintain your eRep. It doesn't matter if you are a budding entrepreneur or someone who likes blabbing on social media—anything even remotely unproductive and untoward is constantly lurking in your virtual rearview mirror.

Your Digital Footprint Is Bigger Than You Think

Have you ever Googled yourself? You might have more of an online presence than you think. You might have written guest blogs, had articles published in your name, or been quoted online. You're listed on directories like Yelp, the BBB, and Yellow Pages if you have a business. You may have taken on negative reviews or a dissatisfied customer! To summarize, everyone (including you reading this) has at least one negative search result on Google's front page that they would like to bury.

The Digital Handshake: Why Your Online Reputation Matters

To understand why online reputation is essential today, think of your online reputation as your digital handshake. It can say a lot about you or your company. Like a handshake, a poorly executed one can either close doors on you or cast doubt on your credibility, often when you least want either of those to service. It could be a viral blog post for all the wrong reasons. It could be an unfortunate series of events or negative online reviews on one of those notorious websites that are too far from the mainstream to be dismissed offhand but not quite far enough to be ignored, either. It doesn't matter. Online reputation is just as likely to keep you out of the opportunity.

The Perils of Ignoring Negative Feedback

Ignoring negative feedback is similar to neglecting seepage on your rooftop; what happens when the downpours come? You wouldn't neglect to alter the broken rooftop at that point, so for what cause would you neglect to address harmful content about your business? I have seen companies lose many customers when a negative comment is addressed unattended, and even people fail out of job opportunities. It may seem minor at first, but it remains untouched, and if you leave that negative comment, you may regret it pretty soon. It's challenging to fix damage over a long period, but treating a Television imbalance takes no effort or a second. I firmly believe it's venomous.

Unwanted Guests: Dealing With Harmful Content

Harmful content is like that one guest that crashes the whole party. Harmful content can be categorized in multiple ways. It could be those negative reviews, false news articles, and those comments that make you question if someone woke up and picked violence. A good friend, let's call her Jane, was the topic of a not-so-fabulous local news spot. This local news spot wasn't just a slight imperfection in her life. No, it was a FULL ON PR NIGHTMARE. Why, you ask? Because that story resided at the very top of Google. I learned an essential lesson from Jane: The Internet never forgets, but it can be forgiving if you know how to ask.

person writing on white paper
person writing on white paper

Building a Fortress Around Your Reputation

Being proactive is the single most effective measure one can take to protect one's online reputation. In the same way that life presents identity challenges on every path, so does the Internet. Preparing for those challenges by drawing road maps like internet use guidelines and creating strategies like limiting damage with extended contacts and further requests for disclosure prevents little images from taking down giants. Give a thought towards making a positive reputation on purpose. This means building a fort around your reputation, brick by brick.

Regular Check-ups: Your First Line of Defence

I've said it before, and I'll repeat it: only some things you do online will be perfect. However, maintaining your brand is mostly a matter of being vigilant and promptly correcting slip-ups. Set Google Alerts for your name, business, or any term you feel is essential to your brand. It's like having a personal watchdog that barks whenever it sees something relating to you online. I'd say more‚ but I must thank Google for the tool that has saved my bacon countless times. Because, as my grandma always says, why put off until tomorrow what Google Alerts can remind you to tackle today?

The Art of Narrative Control: Ensuring Your Story Is Heard

There are ways to fight a losing battle. So you're speaking at conferences and thought leadership events, sharing insights and telling your company's story to ensure it's compelling and air-tight. Good for you. But what happens if someone decides to write something negative about you? How do you control that narrative? Kevin advises a few tactics. Start building your positive presence through a corporate or personal blog; if people see positive comments about the company, these comments can remove or drown out the negative. By engaging in social media, you can also act as your PR and build a critical mass of influence that can make the bad reviews look equivocal or, better still, purely wrong-headed.

Taking Immediate Action Against Harmful Content

When it relates to harmful content, it is always best to first take a deep breath; it will be OK. Step 1.1: Assess the content: Is it a misunderstanding that can be clarified with a response? A well-worded reply is often all it takes to defuse a situation and reveal the truth in your side of the story.

No word could be wrong, but if the content is false or without cause, you may want to ask the author or site if they could remove or edit the page. While that may be a long shot, you'd be surprised how often a slight communication could lead to a positive solution.

Legal Considerations: When to Seek Advice

Sometimes, when the content is defamatory, seeking legal advice is the best course of action. It's a route that takes a lot of thought, but there are very good reasons why it exists. A colleague of mine once had to take this route to remove a baseless accusatory article. It wasn't easy, but it protected his professional integrity.

brown wooden tool on white surface
brown wooden tool on white surface

SEO: Your Secret Weapon in Reputation Management

Ah, SEO, the magic behind Google's curtain. It's not just for marketers; it is a powerful tool in managing your online reputation.

Boosting Positive Content: The SEO Way

It's not just about linking keywords; you can also beat out harmful content and push it down the results page by making other search results rank higher by design. Anything you can do that says, "Look! I'm a reputable source of information on this subject!" will help you beat out the stuff that might look bad. If you can fill up the first page of a Google search with your greatest hits, the horror of that DUI arrest report disappears into the abyss, friends.

The Power of Content Creation

Content creation, but not just on any subject. You need to create new, positive content about you regularly to push the other stuff down. Blogging is a great way to get fresh content on your site. Getting featured in interviews will provide new content and present you as an industry expert. Writing guest posts on