5 things you can do right now to assess your online reputation

1) Type your name (then your company name, then your brands or product names) in speechmarks into Google and search for it. What do you find? 

2) Set up Google Alerts for your name, brands and products. This will send you emails whenever you or someone else mentions you online.  Vital for picking up problems before they can become PR disasters.

3) Search Google for your email address. Whatever comes back in the search results, make sure it doesn’t compromise you, embarass you or leave you vulnerable to spam.

4) Search Google for any online IDs you use or have used. As above; make sure there are none out there in places that would damage your reputation or credibility.

5) Take a tour of your own online ‘real estate’. Step away from Google and take a drive through any sites you own or control as if you were a visitor.  This is hard to do  – but try to forget everything you know about your business, what you do and why you do it.  Be ruthless: ask yourself ‘what impression does this really create?’.  You need to remember that people will judge you on any website you put out as quickly and as harshly as they would if they stepped into your living room.  And the impression they get will be all-important – especially if your reputation comes under attack.

If you find nothing about you (or your products) when you do those Google searches, you’ve got a problem.  Why? Because you’re invisible and people won’t be able to make up their mind about you.  Worse, the first person to set out to say something negative about you will end up being the only thing out there to form the basis of other peoples’ impression of you.

If you find good references to you and your products, make sure to click through and find out where they’re located and what they say.  Make a note to connect wherever possible (via social media or email) and develop relationships with people who like and respect what you do.  What impression do these comments add up to create?

If you find negative comments about you, read them carefully and bookmark them.  Track backwards and find out as much history as you can.  Who is involved?  What is the issue? What are they saying? What’s being implied about you and your business? What seems to be their motivation? And how many people are saying it? Start taking notes. You’re going to need them if you want to do anything constructive about it.

These 5 steps will tell you a lot about your online reputation within minutes – and set up you up with basic monitoring so you’ll be the first (well, probably the second) to know if and when something starts to go wrong.

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