Online reputation management, sometimes shortened to ORM or just OR, refers to what shows up when you search for your name online. Is it positive or negative? Does your name bring up professional photos of you, or personal (or possibly inappropriate) photos? Does it link to an inappropriate article or social media profile? What if none of the results are related to you – is that better than a negative result? Many employers, clients, and contacts will search for your name, so it is important to have the results be in your favor. Here are a few strategies for getting the best of the best at the top of the page.
Google Favors Recently Updated Material
Google will put recently updated websites higher than older content. What this means for you is to try to keep your positive online media updated regularly. Post articles and discussions on your LinkedIn, add more to your blog, and so on. This will both push older, not-so-great content further from the first page, and also increase the page rank of your positive content.
Start a Website or Blog
Although it is not required to have a successful online reputation, starting a website or blog can be beneficial. If someone searches for your name, YourName.com will take priority over other results, so fill it with something you’d want employers to see. You could write a blog about industry-related news and topics, add an online version of your portfolio or resume, or anything else – the sky is the limit.
Try to get the domain name that you include on your resume and LinkedIn. If you include your middle initial, go by a nickname, or otherwise change your name, be sure you try to get that domain and not any other name. That way, the employer will find it by searching for the name on your resume. If you can’t get YourName.com, try something that still includes your name, like YourNamePortfolio.com or YourNameResume.com.
Ask for Removal
If worst comes to worst, you can also try to remove unsavory content. Google has a special page for this to get the content unlisted from its search, and you can also try to contact the original website it is posted on. If you have access to it, like Facebook, change your privacy settings or delete the material. These requests don’t always pan out, so it is better to actively try and fill your search material with positives than try to remove the negatives.
There are many more nuances to the Google search algorithm and online reputation, but following these basic guidelines will help you show the employer your professional side. Be sure you search for your name often to see what comes up!