The Truth According to Google

Have you Googled yourself or your organization lately? If you haven’t, you definitely should. Being aware of what’s out there is the first line of defense in the rapidly expanding world of online reputation management.

First, the good news…

You probably won’t find anything that is particularly problematic. But, the full list of just what is out there about you individually and your organization can be really eye opening! You should see certain results pop up, both for you and your company. For individuals, you should expect to see results such as:

  • Your bio page on your organization’s web site
  • Your LinkedIn Profile
  • Your Google Profile
  • Your Facebook Page (depending on your privacy settings)
  • A personal blog, if you have one and blog under your actual name
  • Other references to you on the web, including places where you might be listed as a member, volunteer, sponsor or board member
  • Links to other social media sites you participate in (depending on your privacy settings)

For your organization, if you’ve done a good job with SEO, you should expect to see results such as:

  • Your company’s web site
  • Google Places page
  • Local links in Bing or Yahoo
  • Your company’s Facebook page
  • Listings on directory or local search sites, such as Yelp, Insiderpages, Yellowpages.com, etc.
  • Links to employee or board member LinkedIn Profiles
  • Other references to your organization on the web, including places where your company might be listed as a member, sponsor or contributor

But, what else might be lurking out there?

Sometimes, the answer to that question can be a little horrifying. Surprise results can range from the relatively benign – links to another person with the same name, which can create confusion, to the downright panic-inducing – finding an entire blog or web site dedicated to excoriating you or your business – and everything in between.

It is a little disconcerting to think about, but pretending that the information isn’t out there, really is not a viable approach to protecting and managing your online reputation. It is a fairly regular occurrence to find severely outdated or incorrect information about you or your organization. It might surprise you to know that Google has very little interest in verifying the “truth” of content they index. It is important to realize that the truth according to Google, is for all intents and purposes, considered to be the truth, period.

So, what can you do?

Knowledge is power and the first step in starting to address any misinformation in Google results is knowing that it is out there. We suggest that clients make it a regular practice to Google themselves and their organizations at least once a quarter (or more frequently if you sell directly to the public) so you know what’s out there. These days, you have to assume that at least 75% of potential customers or employees will Google your company at some point in their decision-making process. You need to know what they will see so you can be prepared to discuss it and professionally correct any misinformation you’ve found.

Preventive maintenance when managing your online reputation is always a good idea. If you discover a major issue in your searching, it may be time to bring in a professional to help mitigate the damage and start the hard work of repairing your online reputation.

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