Not sure how you rate on the search engines? Go ahead and check the first 20 listings on Google. Depending on how common a name you have, the results are likely to produce links to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Naymz, Twitter, MySpace or other social networking accounts. You may also find some embarrassing details or skeletons from your past or something totally inaccurate.
More and more individuals are searching cyberspace and the online reputations of those seeking employment, a romantic interest, or customers for their business. While the Google, Yahoo, Ask, AOL and Bing search engines have become the de facto public record of modern time, reputation management consultants believe you have a right to control how your name is presented online.
Reputation management is not a unique concept since everyone from small business to Fortune 500 companies relies upon their reputation to protect and enhance their livelihood. Reputations can sway public opinion, have a positive or negative impact on a career or employment opportunity, a romantic interest, and wreck havoc upon businesses, whether newly established or decades old.
Online reputation management is a cross between forensic analysis, search engine optimization, and legal maneuvering. For those seeking to monitor, manipulate or correct their online reputation, a number of free or inexpensive tools are available:
Google Alerts sends keyword search results via e-mail for specific mentions in news, websites and blogs, videos, as well as group categories.
Google Blog Search is a Google beta search engine for blogs.
Technorati is the leading blog search engine indexing millions of blog posts in real time while also tracking their authority, influence and popularity.
BoardTracker monitors discussion boards and forum threads within specific categories and sends keyword search results via e-mail.
Naymz is a social network focused on reputation, personal branding, and identity verification. The basic version is free.
Yasni is a search engine dedicated to finding people on the web through publicly available information, including images, videos, social networking profiles and posts. The basic version is free.
BackType Blog Comments Monitoring indexes conversations from blogs, social networks and other social media. It also has an alert function that e-mails updates whenever a search term is mentioned in a comment.
BackTweets is a service by BackType that provides an engine to search for specific links mentioned on Twitter.
BlogPulse is a blog search engine with several complementary tools such as Trend Search and Conversion Tracker that analyzes data it collects.
Monitter is a real-time Twitter monitor for up to three keywords at a time.
TweetBeep provides hourly Twitter alerts via e-mail on specific keywords, people and links.
Twitter Search searches all Twitter activity for keywords, links or user activity in real time.
WhoLinksToMe is a link search tool tracking backlinks making them sortable by anchor text, origination, and target URL. Links can be imported from Google Webmaster Tools for enhanced analysis.
Having a plan in place to address negative feedback is important when dealing with online reputation management. By monitoring public perception you will be able to evaluate and act should your online reputation come under fire.
At the end of the day, all you have in the community is your good name and reputation. Do what you can to protect it.
To review Bill Lewis' entire consumer protection series at the Highlands Today, visit www.williamlewis.us.
The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, as reported in the Highlands Today, a Media General Group publication:
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William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, on AM 1470 WWNN.