WHY EXECUTIVES NEED TO GOOGLE THEMSELVES
By Elizabeth Flaherty, Managing Director, Wavelength Public Relations.
Many executives believe if they don’t engage in social media their online reputation will be protected, but this kind of head in the sand thinking, is not the case.
The best strategy to protect your online reputation begins with being informed.
Employers, patients, potential clients and peers use Google to check your background; you should know what they are reading about you and ensure it is what you would be proud to present.
There are some simple things you can do to help protect your online reputation, without paying for the search engine optimisation (SEO) black magic touted by large IT firms.
WHAT TO GOOGLE: The simplest way to find out what is being said about you online is to Google your name. You should also search variations of your name and your name in combination with other key search terms such as your company or field of expertise. You should check the first three or four pages of each search.
WHERE TO GOOGLE: Ensure you do geographic specific searches: that is, do a global Google search www.google.com and do a search for your home country, such as www.google.com.au. If you are conducting business globally it is worth checking the Google searches for each country you operate in. They will produce different results and it is important to see what users from those areas will find about you.
WHEN TO GOOGLE: We recommend you Google your online identity every six weeks. This generally allows you to become aware of any negative comments while they are still on page four of the search, not the first page and the first thing people will see. It also allows you some time to take action, if required.
BE AUTHENTIC: It is important to be authentic in this process. Building an online reputation be it for a company or an individual, should not be confused with gaming the system. The difference is in ethics and transparency.
UNDERSTAND THE SYSTEM: Promises of search engine optimisation (SEO) black magic from slick sales people have never been a match for the world’s best search engines, which are based on fairness. It is important however, to understand the basic principles of how search engines work to know how to ensure your sites are legitimately recognised.
CONTENT IS ALWAYS KING: Search engines scour the content of sites and pick up on key words. Ensure your content is legitimately rich with the search words that may be used to find you, ie: ensure you use your full name frequently. Real content trumps tagging tactics.
LINK TO LEVERAGE: Linking your sites together increases the profile on searches. So link your personal website to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites and they will leverage each other. Link, with proper permission, to positive third party references such as news stories where you have been quoted.
USE WELL KNOWN PLATFORMS: Use WordPress, Facebook, LinkedIn and other well known platforms. Sites such as LinkedIn have literally millions of hits and the more popular a site, the higher its content rates on search engines.
TAGGING LEGITIMATELY: Tagging images and pages does help with search engine rankings, but do it authentically and remember it is no match for proper content.
SECURE YOUR DOMAIN: Purchase your own domain name ie: www.elizabethflaherty.com.au and post some basic content about yourself and your contact details. Unfortunately many domains have already been taken, but look for small variations such as using an initial from you middle name. Try and keep it consistent with the rest of your online presence. Consistency of name is important when people are searching for you.
LINKEDIN: Ensure your LinkedIn page is up to date, including a photograph. LinkedIn literally has millions of users and ranks very highly, make sure you can be found on it and make sure you link your LinkedIn account to your website and other social media platforms. The LinkedIn community is a great way to share and contribute information and ideas. So too are blogs, which you can simply produce once a month and link to your LinkedIn account. The online community rewards people who participate.
FACEBOOK: You may already have a personal facebook page, which you may prefer to keep private, so make sure those settings are in place. However, you can also have a public profile associated with your work or business.
OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA: It worth using other popular platforms such as Twitter, Flicker, YouTube, Pinterest and FourSquare. Fortunately there are tools such as HootSuite and Tweetdeck which allow you to write a comment once and it publishes it to a variety of platforms such as your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter saving you time.
WHEN YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION SUFFERS DAMAGE:
However, if you have taken the time to build your online reputation you will be in a strong position to counter negative comments and take proactive steps to protect you reputation.
Like anything in life, genuine results take some work and promises of quick fixes for your online reputation should be met with healthy scepticism, no matter how much IT jargon someone may throw at you.