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Googling Yourself and Your Internet Reputation

When was the last time you Googled yourself or your business? Yesterday? Last Month? Never? Does your company have a false or harassing review?

When we think of the risks to our online presence, the stakes can actually be quite high. Adverse personal information easily found online could cost you your career or even put you in harms way. This could be anything from damaging Yelp reviews of your business or old Twitter comments that could be dug up and used against you, and the highly important Google Rating. The easiest way to assess the threat level is to do a quick Google search of your name or business. 

Doing so, you might be surprised at what could be out there on those first few pages. While Googling yourself might at first glance seem indulgent or the height of Millennial culture, many of us do it as damage control or prevention. In the findings of a new survey done by Domain.me of 1,000 U.S. adults, 24 percent of adults in general--and 43 percent of Millennials--said they'd been negatively affected by information about them online. 

  • 33 percent of Google search results are influenced by other individuals of the same name
  • 20 percent of people find outdated or flat out inaccurate information
  • 12 percent are “unpleasantly surprised” by what they find, though it may not be necessarily incorrect
  • 8 percent unfortunately find embarrassing or reputation damaging information **

**Entrepreneur, January 2019

Online reputation management (Or ORM) is big business and is considered high priority for most Fortune 500 companies, but now is vital for small business, and likely more so. It is rare for a review to impact McDonald's, but a small company can ill afford negative reviews. Originally thought of as an arm of public relations, the growth of social media has made search results a core part of an individual's or group's reputation. ORM focuses on the digital management of a person, product, or service's search results. A variety of electronic markets and online communities like e-Bay, Amazon and Alibaba have ORM systems built in. But the every day user and small business owner can have the benefits by using a company that specializes in ORM. For businesses, reputation management usually involves an attempt to bridge the gap between how a company perceives itself and how others view it. 

What you can do:

  1. Research who left the bad review or posted false or misleading information about you or your firm. Most people are reasonable, even if they do things in the heat of the moment.
  2. Hire a firm to help you identify the person or persons to figure out who is harassing you or your firm.
  3. Hire an attorney to help you remove the negative content. This will likely start with a letter to the person or business, and progress to court if unsuccessful.
  4. Try reaching out to the website that houses the information. This is unlikely in the case of Google, they will more often than not be helpful, but an attempt could certainly prove substantive. 

There are many reasons to use a company that offers ORM, and it might be worth a look at the person or persons that are behind the reviews and negativity that might impact your reputation, but again, holding the person accountable is important if the information posted is false.