I was helping a client review their online reputation this past weekend when it hit me. You are what you post. Or in her case what you don’t post meaning if someone was looking for her, she wouldn’t exist. David Fisher probably summed it best during our podcast by saying:
“If you want to hide a dead body get it on the second page of Google.”
While my client and I weren’t talking about hiding bodies, David’s point is highly relevant. If you don’t show up on page one of Google, you don’t exist.
Many people in my age group tell me they “don’t need an online presence.” These same individuals continue to live and operate under Old Formula for success. It’s too bad. They are missing out.
As my client and I clicked through every result on page one, we identified quickly she had some work to do. Her LinkedIn profile wasn’t even showing up on page one. Instead, three other people who share her name were there.
This is quite common but it doesn’t have to be if you take charge of your online reputation. Yes. There will be some initial effort required at first. Yes. It will be totally worth it. Why? Because as our lives move more and more online so too will our opportunities to be found and recognized. Wouldn’t it be nice if people were reaching out to you for your expertise? It can happen if you put in the work.
Seven steps to put your online reputation house in order
1 – Search for yourself on Google
Open an Incognito window in Google Chrome. Don’t have Chrome? Go download it. Make sure you are signed out of all applications in your browser. Type your name in search bar and hit enter. How many of the top 10 results on page one are you?
If none of the results are you, you’ve got problems. Just like my client. Neither of you exist.
2 – Review each result
Whether you know it or not, a story is being told about you online. Understanding what the story is telling others is critical. To do that you need to open all ten results on page one even if you know it’s not you.
As each page opens, capture a screen shot of the page and print it out. After you’ve printed out all ten results lay them out in front of you and ask yourself this question:
“Taken all together, what is the story my Google results are telling others about me?”
Do you like the answer? If not, don’t worry. You can change it.
3 – Conduct a Namechk
This is an important step for individuals who share the same name but is useful for anyone as well. Go to namechk.com. Enter your name in the search bar, press enter. Namechk will scour each of the sites listed on the main page for the name you entered.
This will not only show you the availability of your name on each platform, it will also show you the platforms where your name is already taken. This will be important for the next step.
4 – Select your name
Sounds simple and it is but it isn't. Your Namechk results may have revealed your name being used by others on multiple platforms. The key to having a great online reputation starts with the selection of the keywords you want to be known for or found for. In this case, your name.
Don Orlando and I talked about the importance of this during our podcast interview.
As we discussed, you have multiple options available to you even if your first and last name have been taken by someone else. The key here is to select a name and stick with it across all of your social and online media accounts.
5 – Secure your name on the big three
Like the automotive industry, the internet has a big three as well. I’m talking about LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. In addition, I would “grab” your name on Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.
You do not need to “activate” these accounts just grab your name and sit on them. When the time is right you can go back and start using them strategically.
6 – Own your domain
When I talk about owning your domain I actually mean in two ways but for the purpose of this post I’m only referring to owning your internet domain. Use the name you selected in step 4 and purchase your name using your favorite domain register.
Don’t have a fav? No worries, I use Bluehost for all of my sites. Here is a quick video tutorial to walk you through the process step-by-step.
I recommend purchasing your domain to everyone, even if you don’t want to create a website right away or I hate to say it, ever. Purchasing your domain keeps other people with your name from using it for their own purposes which may not align with yours.
Secure your online reputation by purchasing your domain.
7 – Define your online strategy
This one is open ended and requires the most effort on your part. Ask yourself, “what do you want to be known for?” When people search for you online how do you want to appear? What topic, subject, or niche do you want to be associated with search results?
It’s important to answer these questions because they will guide you when you post content online. As you develop your online strategy you’ll select the platforms which best align with your topics. For example, if you’re a photographer you’ll want to be on Instagram.
Protect what you’ve built offline by taking charge of your online reputation following these seven simple but maybe not easy steps.