Managing your online reputation is becoming increasingly important if you’re a business professional. If you’re a small business owner, it’s even more essential.

Here are 7 steps you can take to assess, fix, and monitor your online reputation.

1.  Google Yourself to Check Your Online Reputation.

It may sound like an exercise in vanity, but if you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, you’ll want to show up on page 1. Wisely, the “Definitive Guide to Online Reputation Management” offers this advice: treat your Google page 1 as your business card.
Assuming you want to be found (and most professionals should), a few factors will determine if you appear on page 1. This includes how common your name is.
If you have a very distinctive name, you won’t need to do much work to appear on page 1. That’s good news—IF what OTHERS are saying about you and what YOU are saying about yourself are both positive. Otherwise, you’ll need to do some damage control.
On the other hand, if your name is John Smith or Nancy Burgess, you may need help to GET to page 1.
For example, “Nancy Burgess” is a surprisingly common name. When I used to write for the Chicago Tribune, there was another Nancy Burgess who also wrote for the Tribune and lived in the suburbs. Let the record show that neither I (nor Nancy the other writer): mistreats animals, has four DUIs, is missing, or has died. But other Nancy Burgesses have.
What does Google return when you type in your name?

2.  Be Thoughtful About What You Write and Post Online.

Be thoughtful about what you write and post on social media. In a moment of anger, frustration, or temporary insanity you may want to post something hateful or distasteful online. Think twice.
How will that impact potential customers, employers or clients? Remember it’s not a momentary lapse. It could follow you (and your brand) the rest of your life.

3.  Create Your Personal Marketing Brand Identity.

As a business owner, you should have a personal brand identity with brand positioning, messaging and a story to tell. Does your LinkedIn profile (and other social media profiles) reflect your brand? Do they tell your story? This will impact your online reputation.

4.  Optimize Your LinkedIn Portfolio.

LinkedIn is the giant “Rolodex” of the day. If you’re not on LinkedIn, it’s time to join 530 million other professionals who are.
Is your profile optimized to get found? Again, if you have a common name, you’ll need to work harder to achieve that number one spot in the LinkedIn return. For example, there are 142 professionals named Nancy Burgess on LinkedIn and 10 names are returned per page. That’s 15 pages.
Worse, type in John Smith and LinkedIn returns 64,606 names! Imagine the effort John Smith has to go through to manage his personal brand.
Is your profile optimized for your name AND what you do?

5.  Check Google, Yelp and Other Company Reviews.

Although these are reviews of your business, this impacts your overall reputation. Additionally, these company reviews may mention YOU by name. Do you know what they say?
I’ve seen poor reviews that reflect on an individual’s credibility, honesty or trustworthiness. Once your reputation has been smeared online, it’s hard—but not impossible—to recover.

6.  Recognize the Goal of “Fixing” Your Online Reputation

You almost assuredly won’t be able to delete what’s out there or the damage that it’s done. But you can work to create positive content that pushes any negativity to page two or three of Google where it barely exists. Furthermore, positive company reviews will increase your average number of stars in Google Business or Yelp.

7.  Set up Google Alerts to Monitor Your Online Reputation.

Finally, monitor your reputation going forward. Google yourself monthly, and set up Google Alerts with your name and your company’s name to see if any new content has posted.

About Nancy Burgess

Need help:
Creating your personal brand identity or personal marketing?
Defining and enhancing your online reputation?
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile or other social profiles?

Nancy Burgess

Nancy Burgess is the owner of Nancy Burgess Strategic Marketing, a marketing consulting firm and online agency. In that role, she integrates her corporate success as a digital marketer along with her marketing agency experience in marketing communications and branding to help businesses prosper. Nancy's specialties are search engine optimization (SEO) and content creation. She graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, holds a master's degree, and also multiple marketing certificates from DePaul University's graduate school. She is a frequent presenter on SEO strategies and has worked in digital marketing since the late 1990s. As someone who can strategize AND execute, Nancy offers digital and traditional marketing services to SMBs. Agency value without agency fees. Along with SEO and content strategies, Nancy's agency offers website design, marketing automation, integrated marketing strategies, and branding to her clients.