Online Reputation Management for Non-SEOs

Online reputation management is increasingly important as more and more friends, family and employers search your name. Even if you are always on your best behavior online or you have a fairly unique name, as the population swells and more people become creators of content on the web, there’s a great chance that people will mistake others activity online as your own!

Fusion Vegas explains that controlling or managing search rank for your own name is fairly easy for an SEO (search engine optimizer), but what can the average person do? Below I outline a number of free, quick, easy and effective ways to populate the first page of results for your name. I highly recommend people start creating content for their name now as it will be much more difficult after waiting for someone else with your name to muddy the search results to spur you to action.

1) Create a Blog
Even if you build just a one-page site using your name on a free blog network, you can quickly use your blog to create pages about yourself and link to other pages you are going to create on this list. Use your name in the blog name.
free blogEstimated time to complete: 10 minutes
Free Options: Blogger (blogspot), WordPress, LiveJournal

2) Create a Wiki
Several wiki platforms have done a great job of creating publishing tools that are even easier to use than most blog technology. Though wikis are best suited for group collaboration, the will also work well helping you link to your blog and other pages. Use your name in the wiki name.
free wikiEstimated time to complete: 10 minutes
Free Options: Wetpaint*, Wikia

3) Register your domain
If you are lucky enough to have [insertyourname].com (or .net, .org, .info) available, snatch them up. The $8 a year fee is well worth it even if you don’t actively build a site using it because, at the very least, you are preventing your competition (other people with your name, or people who don’t like you) from ranking high for your name. Even better, use your domain for the site or wiki you are going to create.
go daddyEstimated time to complete: 5 minutes
Cheap Options: GoDaddy, Yahoo,1&1

4) LinkedIn
Set up a LinkedIn profile and make it publicly available. Add background info like education, employment history, awards or certification (or anything else you are proud of). Add links to your other sites/pages.
linkedinEstimated time to complete: 5-10 minutes

5) Jobster
Some people are a little shocked when they find out their Jobster profile shows up in search. Not you, because you want it to! Create a jobster account, allow it to be publicly available, fill out a little employment info, answer a couple questions, but write it keeping in mind that your current employer could come across it.
jobsterEstimated time to complete: 5 minutes

6) Myspace
Myspace pages tend to show up in search as well. Though Myspace has probably ruined more people’s reputations than helped, you will create a clean Myspace page for your name and, if you feel the urge, put the racy stuff on a different profile.
myspaceEstimated time to complete: 5 minutes

7) Flickr
Flickr accounts and images have a great chance of showing up in the engines, especially for image searches. Creat an account, upload a few photos you like and label them with your name.
flickrEstimated time to complete: 10 minutes

8) Comment on Popular Post
Sometimes I see a commenter’s name show up in search. Find a popular blogger site or newspaper site that allows comments, and find a post that you feel comfortable commenting on. Use your real name for the name field. Try this on a couple sites.
Estimated time to complete: 5 minutes

9) Employer Site
If your employer features profiles on their website, ask them to add one for you. If not, talk them into it or author a post on their blog (if they have one).
Estimated time to complete: 5-30 minutes, depending on your company

10) Join a Forum
Do a search for a forum that you might want to participate on. For example, if you are into guitar, you should search for “guitar forum.” If it looks like a place where it would be easy for you to make five or six posts, then sign up and use your name for your profile name. Make your five posts and fill out your profile page with information about you and use your name at least once in the profile description.
Estimated time to complete: 15 minutes

And the main: do internet marketing!

*Disclosure: I work for Wetpaint, but honestly believe their wiki solution is the best option

In the future, Facebook might also be an option. They recently allowed profiles set to public to be crawled, but they are showing logged-out status of your profile, which is basically your name and picture right now. Eventually, I believe, Facebook will open it up to show your full public profile (probably in ’08).

Keep in mind, Google usually only shows two results for any one site. That’s why I have you contributing on multiple sites. A couple more tips:

  • If you ever receive a great interview or bio online, link to it from your sites.
  • For online activity that you don’t want to be associated with your name, use a nickname or “handle” that is completely different from your real name.
  • If you have stiffer competition for your name, you may need to spend more time building out and linking to the various options I list above.

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