Reputation Management

The Internet provides numerous opportunities, both good and bad.  In a strange way, the Internet is extremely democratic in that it allows anyone with access the chance to use or abuse the Web however they see fit.  As such, reputation management has become a major area of interest and concern for millions, if not tens of millions, of Americans.

Reputation management is the process of tracking an entity’s actions and other entity’s opinions about those actions, meaning the search for what people are doing and what others think about what people are doing. It’s a bit like online gossip, but reputation management goes further than just People magazine.  Entire Internet related responsibilities, such as search engine image protection (SEIP), were created for the sole purpose of protecting a person’s name and reputation from undesired public information. Reputation management is important to individuals, businesses, non-profits, politicians and more, because it affects so many areas of life. There are many ways to execute reputation management on the Internet; one way is to overwhelm and eliminate negative listings that show up when people search a name or term in Google.  However, things have changed and online reputation management is evolving and new services such as online image consulting and litigant image enhancement is growing.

Growth
More so than ever before, it’s easy for an individual to post slanderous, untrue, injurious and hurtful information based on nothing more than the wind.  In the past, a person would have to use a print medium, newsletter, newspaper, to produce a wide spread negative message, but those days are over.  Now, anyone with Internet access can make wild comments. Another reason why reputation management is important is that companies are producing as much hurtful information as individuals, if not more. Comments regarding a person’s credit rating or debt could be posted online, individuals can use the forums on various company Websites to bash the company, the employees, stockholders or whomever they like.  Websites such as eBay, Wikipedia and Slashdot are often abused in such a way.

Solution?
There are a number of ways to combat the type of information that is slanderous or flat out inaccurate.  For example, you can use Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) to shield your brand or reputation from damaging content.  In the end though, two challenges persist, the nature of Internet search engines and the ability of certain individuals to spread information no matter how much time it takes.

One of the best ways to combat negative information is to produce positive information.  So, reputation management can be performed with SEO/SEM, putting quality information of a positive nature online about the person or entity being attacked.  The goal is to produce enough positive information that it drowns out the negative being produced.  It’s a difficult battle overall, but one that is winnable.

Moving Forward
To enhance your online reputation management, find a reputable individual or company who can protect your brand and your name.  Odds are you don’t have enough time to deal with the rumors flying around about you, or the time to learn how.  Find professionals who specialize in reputation management and let them handle the mess.

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