Personal Online Reputation Management in 2021

Image Credit: George Milton

How To Navigate Personal Online Reputation Management in 2021

In a social media-driven world where reputations can rise or fall at the click of a mouse or tap of a phone screen, understanding how you can manage your online reputation and prevent unwarranted negative press is now more important than ever. 

If Googling your name has become a stress inducing act, a reputation management campaign could be called for. This activity typically calls for a range of tried-and-tested tactics to be deployed to reduce the impact past media or comments may be having on your reputation. 

Negative content removal means that more positive results can then take up space on that all important page 1 of Google, thereby rebuilding a level of trust in you as an individual or as a brand and ensuring relationships with friends, family and potential employers aren’t adversely affected.    

Our comprehensive guide below outlines exactly what online reputation management is and how it can help you take back control of your digital footprint. 

 

Where do I start when assessing my current online reputation?

If you have been made aware of a negative article that is circulating in the media about you, or want to know more about how you will be perceived online as a professional, an easy first step is to simply search for your full name on Google. 

It’s also worth paying attention to auto-suggest results here, as this is Google’s way of communicating to users what the most popular current search queries are based on the text you have given.    

For example, upon typing your full name, search suggestions such as your name followed by terms such as ‘assault’, ‘trial’ or ‘scammer’, is a strong indicator that there is negative press in circulation. If this is the case, you will naturally want to take steps to remove that negative content. A key thing to remember here is not to overreact. Don’t be alarmed if you come across a blog or indexed social media post showing you in a light that you are uncomfortable with, as there are several ways that you can address the matter and get that content removed.

 

How can Balanced Media help me get rid of negative press?

Because our services can be adapted depending on each individual situation, we would need to obtain enough details from you about which content you would like to be removed. 

While we can’t always guarantee that every negative article will be taken off search engine results, we are able to create related strategic, keyword targeted content of a positive nature, with the aim of reducing the visibility of unfavourable content. 

Once we’ve discussed which content should be prioritised for removal, as well as identified articles requiring more long-term search engine optimisation (SEO) targeting to push harmful articles down the rankings, we can get to work on improving your personal online reputation. 

With results typically noticeable over a two-to-three-month period as we wait for search engines to rank and reorder content, we will provide regular reports on the status of:

 

Removing outdated and detrimental press from Google or source publisher

High domain authority news or blog websites naturally increases the likelihood of negative details being viewed. Not only do sites like that have much larger audiences, they also tend to see their content indexed at the top of search results due to search engines like Google seeing them as authoritative and trustworthy sources of information.

However, this doesn’t mean to say that all the content they publish isn’t libellous in nature, untrue or based on out of date information.

When it comes to removing negative content from Google entirely, the page or image link that you want deleting needs to meet certain criteria:

  • The web page or media contains information that might lead to identity theft, or cause financial harm (this would violate the service agreement of the company). 
  • Sexually explicit information in the form of nude images, images of sexual acts, revenge porn, or any explicit material that you have not consented to it appearing in the public domain.   
  • Falls under the Right to be Forgotten, which is an important piece of EU legislature stating that information in search engines relating to outdated articles, pictures, videos, or social media content can be removed. 

Although you have to pay a minimum of £750 plus VAT for complete removal of articles and media that are no longer accurate, it can be one of the most effective ways of maintaining a positive online reputation. 

 

What happens if negative content I want removed doesn’t come under the above criteria?

This isn’t the end of the road by any means. When deleting unwanted information from Google becomes difficult, there are several other online reputation management tactics which can also  reduce the visibility of online content that is defamatory or unfounded. 

One method includes contacting journalists, newspaper bosses, bloggers and social media owners directly with further information or evidence to contradict or disprove what has been written. 

Another way to suppress negative content is through the creation of positive media, involving the use of SEO where required. This might include:

 

  • Creating your own personal website with associated domains

While you may have a website associated with your business or place of employment,  launching your own website with your name in the URL can be a great way of taking back control.  This can be especially useful if you work in an industry where personal websites are commonplace, such as in the creative sector. 

 

  • Becoming more active on social media

It’s also worth remembering that your social media profiles will also tend to rank in search results when people search for your name. If you don’t have an active presence on social media already, then signing up to the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can prove beneficial. 

By posting regularly and increasing your audience on these platforms, you are again setting the tone for your digital footprint on your own terms. 

This method is particularly useful if you are already prominent in the public eye – as you will be able to expand your follower base quickly and let them know more about you as an individual.  

However, it’s important to always consider how a social media post or comment in news outlets may come across to other readers or people in your profession.  

Before posting content or agreeing to conduct further media interviews, stay clear of heated arguments or debates that could add fuel to negative press, rather than detract from them. 

Even well-intentioned messaging can have dire consequences if framed in the wrong way. Feel free to consult with us if you have any worries or concerns about how you may come across in this instance.

 

  • Writing guest posts

If you are particularly knowledgeable on any topic, whether it be politics, fashion, or technology, agreeing to guest post on websites with a high domain score is another great way to regain control of your personal reputation.

Writing content for websites that include your name as an author byline, or even better, come to feature you in a dedicated author section, not only gives you credibility and helps you to establish yourself as an expert in your field. It also gives you another piece of favourable content which can be indexed by Google and other search engines, pushing the older, more negative content down through the search results. 

 

  • Conducting interviews

Whether for a prominent website, a business contact or even your own YouTube channel or podcast, creating interactive content can be an effective way of ranking well in search. Again, think of this content as another way to knock the negative information down a notch in the visibility stakes, while also helping you to repair your business reputation.

Podcasts are another way of connecting with your audience in a positive light, particularly as they can get across your personality and knowledge on a particular subject in a way that written content sometimes can’t. 

 

  • Adding new, positive imagery of yourself online

Unfortunately, we live in an age where potential employers and those you care about may take to your social media pages as a way of gleaning who you are as a character. You’ll naturally want to remove negative online content before that happens.

It’s a wise idea to review your own social media profiles and other places you have access or publication rights for negative imagery you yourself can remove. If you come across something that doesn’t reflect the positive image you wish to cultivate, remove it yourself from your social profiles. 

After combing through your own profiles, you can also get in touch with friends and family to ensure that any images you don’t want shown in search results are removed from their pages. 

If you find that there are images of you from newspaper articles or blogs that you feel aren’t displaying you in a favourable context, it can be worth reaching out to the outlet or journalist personally and requesting they be removed. 

When uploading positive imagery to your business site or own personal blog or domain, be sure to include your full name in the file name, ALT tag and caption. This tells the search engines who you are, meaning your approved imagery is then more likely to show in search results.

 

  • Writing press releases

There’s arguably no better way of taking back control of your personal narrative online and cultivating a more positive reputation than through well-conceived press releases and subsequent media coverage. 

If you are experiencing a personal reputation crisis online, we can help draft search optimised PR that can be distributed to relevant industry journalists and media hubs for publication. 

By coordinating these releases through your personal or business website, as well as your social media channels, you are able to get across your side of the story in as professional a manner as possible. 

It’s worth creating a calendar of events to issue positive news on a regular basis. Record key dates and events (such as a conference you may be scheduled to speak at, the anniversary of your business or a charity initiative you are taking part in) and be prepared with a PR in advance ready to issue on the day. This creates a continual stream of positive news, helping to remove older negative content from prominent rankings.

 

How much does it cost to remove or suppress negative content?

As you can tell from the examples given above, it can take time and resources to conduct personal online reputation management.

Because allegations and negative press can be unfounded or only partially based on factual information, it can feel especially unfair to go through the trauma of dealing with the fallout of this in relation to your personal and professional life, only to then have to pay to address it. 

A way we like to think of it is as follows: your offline reputation would normally be defended by a lawyer, sometimes at high personal cost to yourself, no matter if you were the guilty or innocent party, especially in the circumstance of a criminal trial. Allocating the budget for personal reputation management really isn’t too different.

 

Is there any way to limit the amount spent on personal reputation management?

Absolutely. While precise costs are discussed on a case-by-case basis depending on the exact circumstances, comprehensive removal or suppression of negative content is a process that, if successful, will pay you back in numerous different ways over time. 

For example, this could include increased success in the job market after a period of unemployment due to negative press, or even non-financial related positive change, such as repaired relationships with friends, family, and colleagues.  

We do understand, however, that you may want to keep costs down when it comes to prioritising which content you would like us to deal with. While it can be tempting to want to remove all negative content online immediately, sometimes it can be more beneficial to target a smaller group of offending keywords doing the most damage. 

This is where we would apply the 20:80 rule, which means that for every 10 keywords requiring a specialist to improve search results, you would likely narrow this down to two keywords which cover around 80% of total searches around your name. 

This ultimately means that total costs can be reduced significantly, while you still get the results you are looking for.  

 

Is there anything else you can do personally to improve your online reputation?

While we will do our utmost to improve positive search results visibility and removal of negative content where possible, it certainly helps the process if our methods are done retrospectively, without having to address any ongoing concerns in relation to your conduct online. 

Want more information about personal reputation management? Get in touch with a member of our team today to discuss in confidence how we can support you.      

 

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