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March 7, 2018

How’s Your Digital Reputation? Here’s How To Find Out

It's time for digital reputation management.

As an individual and a brand digital reputation management is vital to your success. And we’re not talking about big scandals here. It’s as simple as applying for a job and having an HR director Google you. Or owning a coffee shop and having people find it. This month we’ll explore how to discover, improve and manage your digital reputation. Let’s start with getting a sense of what the internet thinks of you.

Digital Reputation Management Step 1: Audit

The first thing you’ll do is gain an understanding of how Google views you. There’s one really easy way to do this. Open an incognito browser window and type in your name.

What comes up on the first page above and below the fold? Do the results reflect your current roles and areas of expertise? Mine is doing a somewhat okay job but, to be honest, it definitely needs a refresh. Why? Here’s what to think about when assessing the quality of your search results.

Can People Tell What I Do or What My Brand Does?

What does the very first result present to you? For me, it’s my website. But the meta description doesn’t show up so it’s not entirely clear what I do. The second result is a question I asked when there was a hold up at the bank across the street from my house. The final result above the fold are images, the first of which is not me.

Take time to look at your name, or brand, and figure out what people might think about you when Googling your name. Can they get a sense of you?

Is the Information Outdated?

If you’ve changed industries it’s important to look at whether or not the info reflects your current situation. In today’s world many people change not just jobs but industries over the course of their career – it’s hard to nail down just how many times but it’s anticipated today’s graduates will switch jobs 12 times before turning 32. That’s 12 times in 10 years if they start working after earning a Bachelor. Jobs, however, are different from careers and when you’re thinking about digital reputation it’s more important to think about your career – a broader stroke that highlights passions and skills.

Here’s an example. A woman graduates college with a degree in English and begins teaching. She spends 3 years in a high-risk, urban setting before changing it up and heading to a rural part of the country (replete with its own set of challenges). From there she takes a job with a national public school employees’ union. At the end of the day, while this is a major shift in employment, many of the same skills are needed and overlap. From there she decides what she really wants to do is be a photographer.

This is the type of change that needs to be reflected through digital reputation management: because she is completely switching up what she is and how she will market herself. No one cares if she was the musical director for a middle school performance of Cinderella or organized awesome field trips. They are looking at a specific skill set: photography.

When auditing, make note of the results that reflect you the way you wish to be seen – we’ll get back to those in part 2 of this post.

Are any of the Search Results Cringe-inducing?

We’ve all answered questions on Quora, shared something we found very entertaining on Facebook or written a letter to the editor in a rage. Make note of the search results you’d rather not have come up. The way to think about it? What would you be fine with being thrown up on a screen during an interview and which would you rather not have to share?

Here are some things to look for:

  • Personal social media posts that could be misinterpreted.
  • Posts other people have made on your social that could be misinterpreted.
  • Innocuous comments to Facebook groups/pages with names that might raise an eyebrow. (True crime podcasts rock but someone might be surprised you belong to a group called “My Favorite Murder”)
  • Letters to the editor about hotbed issues.
  • Anything you’ve written that has errors.
  • Images that are best left between friends.
  • Bad reviews of your biz on Yelp or other popular sites.
  • Reviews you’ve written bashing a brand or place of business.

There are some things you can’t change (ie. if someone looks hard enough they will find every political contribution you’ve ever made), but there are things you cando to help move the things you don’t want seen further down the line through digital reputation management. How can you do this? By creating high quality, content and SEO’ing the content you own that already exists online.

How We Do Step 1

As a digital marketing company all of us are aware of our brand, both personal and professional, and monitor it regularly. You don’t need anything fancy. Some of us are analog in our approach and others are digital – here’s a look at how each process plays out.

simple analog digital reputation audit

The analog folks on our team simply jot down the results they get when doing an incognito search of themselves, leaving room for notes. They number using a 2-number index. The first number is the page of results, the second is the position.

Next they highlight in one color (or using one symbol) the results they like and are happy with when it comes to rank. Then they highlight the things they like and would like to see higher. Finally they highlight the things they’d rather have go away.

Digital Audit

Our team members who are digital use a spreadsheet to track. This is a little neater. It also provides uniform, trackable data that can be monitored over time. Neither process is right, do what works for you.

What Next?

Once you’ve done your audit you’ll move on to making Google work for you to highlight your expertise, experience and whatever else you want people to get out of Googling your name. We’ll be back with part 2 to explore what you can do and how to do it using the two examples above. In the meantime, if you’re worried about your results, contact Digital Firefly Marketing for a free reputation audit.

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