How Good Is Your Online Reputation?

You do all the right things to make it easy for those who need your services to find you–but what if those folks find a scathing review or misleading news story? Suddenly all that effort is lost below the damning search returns.

What to do?

The first step is to learn what is out there. Google offers three options for staying on top of your online reputation.

The first is to simply perform a Google search for your name and the name of your law firm. This is the most direct method for others to find you and is probably the search which produces the greatest traffic to your website.

Next, set up Google alerts for specific keywords. Google alerts are an option on your Google dashboard for your Google account. The alert is given as an email delivered to your account email address. Your name is the first term for which you should set a Google alert. This tool is not only useful for monitoring your reputation; consider setting up alerts for your areas of practice or your top competitors to keep up on the most current developments.

Finally, Google has introduced a tool that helps you manage search results for your name. The tool, “Me on the Web,” is also included on the Google dashboard in between account information and analytics. “Your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you—whether it’s a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update,” Google explains. The option also provides links to useful information on managing your online identity.

Once you are monitoring your online reputation, what do you do when negative content appears?

There are two approaches. If the content is clearly an inappropriate attack or presents lies and is posted on a responsible website, then you may be able to persuade the managers of the website to remove the content.

But a more likely occurrence is that you are unable to secure the removal of the content. So you must make a proactive effort to “bury” it by creating positive content which the search engines will identify as more relevant and more recent. An easy, free way to do this is through popular social media sites. Twitter is a very highly-ranked website, so post several “tweets” that present you in a positive light. Update your LinkedIn profile. Refresh content on your professional Facebook page.

You can also take more conventional approaches, such as writing a letter to the editor or volunteering for a community event which will be covered by media. Offer a free informational seminar and have it advertised in community newsletters online.

Knowing what is generated by online searches is half the battle. The other half is generating the type of content which accurately represents your practice and yourself.