Let’s talk online reputation management.
I have a doozy of a story for you.
Iin 2001, I served an important role in the adult film industry.
At least, I did if you believed what Google had to say about me.
In 2001, an independent art film called The Fluffer was released.
If you don’t know what a fluffer is or does, I’m not going to describe it for you here. (Editor’s Note: Does it involve pillows?)
But, if you are just DYING to know, you can check out this (NSFW) definition over on Urban Dictionary.
So, back to my story. Someone released an art’y porn flick. Big deal, right?
Except the main character, the title character, THE FLUFFER was named… wait for it… Sean McGinnis.
(My abs look EXACTLY like that, but that’s not my face.)
Online Reputation Management and Adult Films
So, there I was, minding my own business, managing a team of sales professionals selling websites to lawyers up and down the east coast.
Then I decided to Google myself to see what might pop up – something I did every now and again.
I. Was. Mortified.
A slightly different set of search results than what I was used to.
Nearly all 10 results were links to reviews of this little movie. They all mentioned the fictional character that just happened to have my name.
After having a fun time laughing about it (I do have a sense of humor after all), I went to work on reclaiming what I thought was mine.
I wanted to ensure I controlled that first page of search results when you searched for “Sean McGinnis.”
Google Search and First Page Results
During the last several years of working to control the first page of results (currently seven of the top 10 Google results are mine), I’ve thought long and hard about the shock and dismay I felt when I first saw those search results.
There are many specific recommendations I’ve shared previously about how to dominate search results for your name or business.
In fact, I’ve recommended specific tactics for managing your online reputation management before.
But there is undoubtedly one lesson I learned that day that far surpasses all the other lessons I’ve learned since.
The first, and most important lesson I can teach you about managing your online reputation is this:
Start Managing Your Online Reputation Before You Need To
If you wait until you NEED to manage your online reputation, it’s already too late.
If you’re reacting to a negative result you have found, then it may have already cost you personally or professionally.
Here are two hypothetical examples to get you thinking about aggressively managing your online reputation.
- Imagine a doctor’s office affected by a disgruntled customer who takes to the web after a less than perfect surgical outcome. The doctor performs a specific surgery that is elective in nature. Several prospective patients have called just prior to their scheduled surgery to cancel the procedure. Those negative search results could be costing that doctor tens of thousands of dollars per month.
- Imagine a professional with great credentials. This professional finds a job that is a terrific fit for their skills. They apply for the job. The hiring manager is intrigued by their background and runs a search to find out more about the would-be candidate. The hiring manager finds a number of unprofessional and unflattering pictures scattered across Google images and social media accounts. The candidate never hears from the company, as the hiring manager moves on to other candidates.
Both of these potential scenarios are very real and may be costing your business – or your career – right now, without you even knowing it.
So I ask you… What are you going to do about it? As for me? I’m off to fluff…my pillows!! I’m fluffing my pillows!