Google is sometimes thought to be the bane of the Internet, and it certainly can be a thorn in the side of search engine marketers. Many fail to look beyond the search of today, toward what the implications of indexing and storing information will have on future generations. Forget the slogan “diamonds are forever” — “Google is forever” is more accurate in regard to the Internet. And if not Google, then some other search giant will be able to retrieve information from previous years within a few seconds. If something is online, it does not just “go away”. Like it or not, the entire world is being indexed and categorized, and will be searchable for years to come.
Individuals today have a personal brand. Employers and colleagues will search on your name, so it is imperative that you keep this in mind when posting online. You must control your online reputation.
The web is not always a friendly place, so what do you do if you are not using an alias and someone is posting derogatory information about you, your company, your products, or your brand?
Monitor Your Brand
The first step in monitoring your brand is to setup automated notifications within the various search engines, either via email or an RSS feed. This way, you will know when you are being discussed, either in favorable or unfavorable terms. For example, the “Google Alerts” feature is a free service that will send email notifications to you when specific words or phrases appear in new search results. Simply use your name, company name, product name, or brand as the phrase being monitored. Ego Feeds work in a similar fashion, except the alerts appear in a custom created RSS feed that updates whenever new mentions occur. For more information about Ego Feeds, see a related article at http://www.feedforall.com/ego-searches.htm
Control Your Brand
The second step in protecting your brand is to take a pro-active approach to appearing in the top search results when your name is entered into a search engine. You can do this by offering interviews, reviews, SEO, and writing articles or posting blog entries. At the very least, make an effort to control the top search results for your name. This will ensure that when your personal brand is searched, those items will be listed in the top 10 search results.
If you find something that is damaging or harmful, do damage control. Control your responses, and behave in a professional manner so it is clear that you took the high road when the exchange is viewed by others at a later time.
The final bit of advice is to simply keep personal things personal. While the social sites are great for maintaining friendships, they are not helpful for people who have an occasional lapse in judgment. Refrain from posting pictures that show anything that you would not want your mother or future grandchildren to see, or saying anything when you are mad or upset since we often say things “in the heat of battle” that we regret later.
The Internet is preserving and archiving personal history in a way that has never previously happened. Control your online reputation for posterity.
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition
Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.