Online Reputation Management: A Gift that Keeps on Giving

By: Guest | December 18, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is by John Millen.

During the holidays, most of us take some time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going.

This year, why not consider a new tradition: Manage your online reputation.

After all, a strong online reputation is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Your online digital footprint is now your digital life resume.

What people read on the first page of search results is who you are.

If you don’t show up online, you don’t exist. Worse, if you have bad search results, people have a negative perception of you. As you know, in a digital world perception is truly reality.

That’s why all of us have to be proactive in our personal online reputation management. (I’m looking at you, too, communications professionals. Sometimes we know this stuff but don’t practice what we preach.)

Think about it. When you meet someone and you’re interested in being involved for business, or, um, personal reasons, what’s the first thing you do?

That’s right, you Google them. What makes the first page of Google results critically important is that only about six percent of people will go to the second page of results.

Certified by Search

This can mean life or death for people who depend on referrals for their success, such as small business owners, professionals, and job seekers. The most powerful source of new business and employment comes from referrals. But today these referrals must be certified by positive search results.

Evidence for proactively managing your online presence is easy. In one recent survey 90 percent of employers admitted checking the online the social profiles of job candidates. While 69 percent said they’d rejected a candidate because of what they found, 68 percent conversely said they’d hired employees after a positive view of their social media sites.

Take Action

With this in mind, here are five actions you can take during the holidays to get started on managing your online reputation for 2013.

  1. Google yourself: When these results appear you are looking at a digital mirror. What shows up? Do you show up on the front page? Are the results positive, or at least what you want to show up? These results are your ultimate metric–your goal should be to create positive content that will grow to dominate your front-page results.
  2. Outline your online reputation map: With yourself as the hub, draw spokes to your online properties, such as your name as a domain, your blog, your social profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others. This visual will give you a clear picture of your gaps and potential opportunities.
  3. Evaluate your digital profile: It’s best to tap trusted friends or hire a professional to help you with this assessment. It’s hard to be objective. You’re looking for quality and quantity. Do you have a basic online network built around your name and identity? Is the content on your sites consistent with how you want to be seen? Realize there are no secrets or boundaries in a digital world–everything is transparent. So, yes, you should use privacy settings on Facebook, but whatever you post online is subject to being seen by the world. Are you producing content that aligns with how you want to project yourself?
  4. Develop an action plan: Review the gaps in your reputation map and outline steps you can take during the next year to move to improve your online identity. Set some reasonable goals such as capturing your name domains, creating and feeding a blog regularly, and assessing your personal brand.
  5. Work on improving your LinkedIn profile: If you only have time to do one substantive thing during the holidays, take the time to update your LinkedIn profile. With more than 175 million users, LinkedIn is your most valuable tool. Plus, properly produced, your profile is likely to rise to the number one result on Google. This is a quick way of temporarily bridging your online reputation gap as you work on the rest of your digital footprint.

The philosopher Descartes’ view was summed up in a famous quote: Cognito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am).

In my talks around the country, I remind people that in the digital age, the equivalent today is: I’m online, therefore I am.

I’m not urging you to make a resolution for next year. You should take action TODAY to assess your online reputation and commit to steady improvement over the New Year.

You’ll be giving yourself the gift that keeps on giving, as you reap the personal and career rewards of your stronger online reputation.

Here’s to a Happy New Year.

John Millen is the chief strategist at Reputation Group, a marketing and public relations consultancy engaged in the social and digital worlds.  He is also a husband, father, runner, and cyclist. John is editor and author of the blog at

  • Mr.D

    Quick question about Googling yourself. Would you recommend logging out of Google or whatever search profile you use before you start searching? I’ve found different results if I Google myself while logged in compared to logging out of Google, or even using private browsing to get unbiased results.

  • Mr.D, Yes, definitely log out. Otherwise, Google is providing results including your search history. For more, perspective you might consider changing your location in Google to other cities–see how you look in Chicago, LA and NY, baby 😉

  • JohnMillen

    @ginidietrich Thanks Gini!

    • ginidietrich

      @JohnMillen Thanks for the really good blog post!

  • chlj

    @jkcallas @ginidietrich I have no reputation!

    • ginidietrich

      @chlj Ha!

  • pimpjuicewow

    @jkcallas Steves J Bryan feat Niskkaa (Game of hearts) official video: plz watch #HighMind

  • @JohnMillen  – what’s your response to people who think online reputation management is BS? I’ve found it’s just a lack of education. It’s like saying SEO is BS.
    I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Personally, I don’t see the problem in attempting to make sure the picture drawn on you online and off is accurate. Of course I also believe negative results are a great opportunity to have a second chance at making a customer happy, or at the very least, correcting what could be a systemic failure in customer service or simply a lack of proper planning.

    • @Tinu It reminds me of a line from one of my favorite movies, City of Angels. When Meg Ryan shouts at Nicholas Cage (an angel) that she doesn’t believe in angels, Cage responds, “Some things are true whether you believe them or not.”
      Some people will never be convinced, but when clients see the impact of relatively simple changes online (such as #5 on LinkedIn), they become believers.  
      You make a good point about negative comments. They may provide us with some of our most valuable feedback. A resurrected customer–taken from a hater to a lover–becomes your best brand ambassador.

  • thebrandbuilder

    RT @jkcallas: Online Reputation Management: A Gift that Keeps on Giving via @ginidietrich

  • Deborahinnkeeper

    Would like help,removing comments from disgruntled ex employee. From trip advisor. Tired everything I know even got an attorney.. Guy wanted for 7 felony against company. Trip advisor ” comments were written according to our guidelines”. Help!

    • @Deborahinnkeeper  Sounds like you’ve taken the right steps. Despite the claims of many “reputation management” services online, there are some things that cannot be removed. There are, however, ways to balance the view of readers. Without knowing the details, it’s hard to advise.  Feel free to contact me at our website and we might give you direction or a referral.

  • profiledefenders

    Sponsored post much?

  • mikejny

    RT @Steveology: Online Reputation Management: A Gift that Keeps on Giving via @ginidietrich

  • JohnMillen

    @identitypr Thanks for the RT

  • JohnMillen

    @salmartins @SpinSucks Sergio, thanks for the RT.

  • JohnMillen

    @MomoFactor Jonathan, thanks for the RT!

  • chatmeter

    Instead of spending your time trying to delete your bad reviews on review sites, why not spend that time trying to get good reviews? So many people don’t believe in reputation management and I’m not sure why. If you’re having troubles, invest in a review management company.

  • JohnMillen

    @bowden2bowden @spinsucks thanks Randy. I look forward to your tweets.

    • bowden2bowden

      @JohnMillen my pleasure and happy to connect @spinsucks

  • JohnMillen

    @CASUDI thanks!

  • JohnMillen

    @busynessgirl thanks Maria!

  • snidesky

    @mssackstein @profkrg @ginidietrich @joeybuddha Have you developed a lesson on personal branding for your J students?

    • profkrg

      @snidesky @mssackstein @ginidietrich @joeybuddha I have a short personal branding lecture/exercise I do with advertising students.

      • mssackstein

        @profkrg can you share?

        • MatthewTForrest

          @mssackstein @profkrg I’d love to hear it, as well! #branding

  • JohnMillen

    @MerrinRobinson Thanks Merrin. Looking forward to your tweets.

  • SuperDU

    Great article John! RT @JohnMillen Online #Reputation Management: A Gift that Keeps on Giving #PR

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  • I’ve known John for more than a year and we get together regularly to share ideas. He knows what he’s talking about. Negative comments need to be managed just like unhappy customers. The problem with social media is the complaint that used to go to 10-12 friends now goes to hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of followers. When that happens, even if satisfaction is very high for most customers the problem is, most customers don’t post positive results. For example, I work for a large insurance company and according to customer satisfaction surveys 97% of claimants would recommend us. However, if you only read FB or Twitter posts you’d see the majority are negative. That’s not reality so it needs to be proactively dealt with.

  • profiledefenders

    Brian if by managed you mean responded to than you are incorrect. If you want to discuss more contact us over at

  • JohnMillen

    @LarryTenney Larry, thanks for the RT. Happy New Year! Wishing you a great 2013!

    • LarryTenney

      .@JohnMillen TY for the RT AND Happy New Year to you too. Should see BN sometime tomorrow! Will share out visit.

      • JohnMillen

        @LarryTenney excellent! Wish him a great year too!

  • JohnMillen

    @MykeLambert @ginidietrich Mike, thanks for the RT.

  • JohnMillen

    @maxcollinsdaily thanks for sharing!

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