With each passing day, a massive amount of information is being published on the Internet that covers a seemingly infinite range of topics. When it comes to the names of individuals or companies, there is a slew of data uploaded; meaning the chances that some negative information that could be perceived to represent you (even if it’s referring to another person) grow as time passes. This is why it has become vitally important for those who frequent the Internet, as well as those who may be seeking employment at some point in the future, to monitor their names and the names of their businesses routinely through software such as Google Alerts. The quicker you find an article, photo, or review on the Internet that pertains to you (or that someone could construe to represent you), the more likely it is you can take positive action before it becomes widespread and significantly affects your online reputation.
What Is Negative Reputation?
Negative reputation, in online terms, is the appearance of someone else – usually accompanied with negative data – when your name or company name is searched via Google or another search engine. Another example of negative reputation is when this data directly refers to you intentionally. Either way, it can be vitally important to get the information removed (or at least to appear lower on search results) as soon as possible, and this is what we will discuss later in this article.
Only a few short years ago, most of the general public who made use of websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and others did so as a way to communicate the existence of a product or services to their current and future clientele. This still exists today, yet the surge of review sites such as Yelp! along with a greater focus on undesirable information has morphed these social media sites into multi-pronged services. In most cases, one negative portion of data can have significantly more impact than its positive counterpart due to many factors – such as how quickly it spreads and how damaging it can ultimately be for future business.
This is one main reason that reputation management services have grown so much since the turn of the decade. Clients who seek out RM services want a way to reduce the impact of bad search results (regardless of whether they directly refer to them) as well as strategies for how to maintain a much cleaner online reputation in general.
Positive Signals Push Down Negative Signals
The good news is that positive data on the Internet (especially when it is published across many high ranking websites) is usually highly effective in pushing down negative results. The key to this equation is taking a bit of time to establish and control data that is published in your name or your company’s name as much as you possibly can while continuing to take actions that will result in more positive information being uploaded by third parties. Like it or not, there are no real controls in place as of early 2014 that will prohibit the general public from posting something out of spite or for the purpose of exacting revenge. If you anger someone or some group in any way, one of the most effective tools they have at their disposal is to get even (at least in their minds) by posting an article, image, or some other form of data on the Internet in a way that is not flattering toward their target.
There are already thousands of examples on the Internet of such reviews; many of which may not be entirely accurate (or even aim to be accurate). Take a quick look at the Yelp! website’s restaurant category and you’ll see precisely how quickly a negative review can draw extra criticism and bad publicity for a business.
So what can any company or individual do when faced with bad press? Basically speaking, there are two options – the most desirable of which is to get the content removed from the Internet altogether. Some websites do indeed have policies (some of which are not formally published) that allow clients to get negative data wiped completely from their servers, yet this option will not always be possible.
The second option is to simply begin your own positive social media and publicity campaign that will have the long term effect of pushing down the other negative search results that are damaging your reputation.
Luckily, the vast majority (if not all) of the ground work and subsequent uploading of positive signals can be performed by a one person crew. It’s extremely easy to manage your own reputation in today’s online world, you simply need a small amount of time along with a dedication to learn how to administer social media accounts and stick with your effort. If not, your other, and much more expensive, option is to hire a company to do this for you. This road may be economically feasible for a large corporation or some who is in line to lose over one hundred thousand dollars in future income due to negative information about them that is being read and shared virtually. However, in most cases a do-it-yourself approach to pushing down negative search results can be equally as effective as paying a firm to do this for you.
Signing Up For Social Media Accounts
The easiest way to push down negative search results is to sign up for social media accounts under the same name or business that is being affected. If at all possible, you should seek to get precise URLs (www.facebook.yourname for example) to make this strategy more effective. All you have to do is go to sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Yelp!, Instagram, Foursquare and others and sign up for a free account. You’ll almost always need a valid email address to do this, and in some cases it may be necessary to provide a telephone number contact in order to complete the process or access premium services.
The process is easy and generally takes less than 15 minutes to complete from the first time you visit the website as a non-member. Once you have gotten your account confirmed, all that’s left to do is begin publishing content about yourself or your company. You directly control what is being uploaded, and can choose what information is read under your name.
Managing Your Own Campaign
What’s more, you can become highly creative in ways that you engage your audience. This will further the validity of your data even more if your page is receiving an increasing amount of feedback, likes, etc. In a relatively short period of time (usually one to three months), your account page that is directly linked to the name you wish to positively affect will begin appearing high on search engines; often pushing down negative search results that were published elsewhere. The reason for this is because most social media sites do a wonderful job with their in-house Search Engine Optimization; ensuring that their pages rank highly for searches performed via Google, Yahoo! and others.
If you do indeed wish to start and maintain your own reputation management campaign across a half dozen or more social media sites, I would say that you can effectively fulfill the requirements of such a task by dedicating approximately one hour per day, five days per week for a period of one to six months depending on who much negative data you wish to push down and which sites that information is published on.
Again, this method is highly preferable to contracting out the services to an RM website or independent Internet expert in most cases. There are certainly circumstances that warrant (or even require) the hiring of a company to manage an individual’s or company’s online reputation, but these circumstances usually involve situations that include some drastic potential impact to one’s economy. If this does not refer to you, then I would recommend that you take the time to get involved in social media and begin controlling as much information published under your name as you possibly can. The effort will pay dividends in the long run and most likely push down undesired search results within a matter of a few short months. Although this may not be the best scenario option when compared to getting negative content removed completely, it is the most logical due to how difficult (if not impossible) it may be to successfully force a website or individual to remove information that is not published on a website you directly own.
If you have any further questions about how to begin your own social media campaign or about how to push down negative search results, I’m available at any time via email and would be happy to help. The importance of the Internet is being witnesses even by those who were afraid to use a computer only a decade ago. Don’t be intimidated by becoming involved online via social media and forums. Rather, take a hands-on approach and inform yourself on the best methods for dealing with negative situations when they arise.
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