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whisperSo I’m just wrapping up another reputation management contract with another client accused of improper business practices. Without giving away too much detail (and because it’s not necessary, either!), the issue with online reputation management is that most people have none.

So, when negative posts are made about them, or they are highly criticized online, these negative posts make it to the top of the search engines, very quickly- because they represent new, fresh content about the person in question.

If you Google your name and your company name, you should, at minimum, control (or manage) the first 10 spaces in Google for these terms. It’s commonly thought that most people don’t search past the first page of Google for information- though if you want to be extremely prudent, try and gain the top 20 positions for your main terms.

And, if you use variations of your name or company name (for example, I am sometimes listed as Dr. Rachna Jain, Dr. Rachna D. Jain, and Rachna Jain), you should invest the resources to gain control of all these terms, because you never know who will be searching and how they will find you. In reviewing my own positioning on these terms, I see that it’s time to do some work on these again.

You can gain rankings for your name and keywords using a combination of blogging, social media content sharing, and in-bound link building. Once you’ve gained these positions, you should examine them once per quarter (at least) and do any maintenance work required.

The benefits of owning these top terms are several: first, you can manage more easily what rises to the top in the search engines. Second, you can portray yourself and your company exactly the way you want to be perceived. Finally, you can make it very easy for your potential clients and customers to find you, especially if you have a common name or one that is commonly misspelled.

When you manage your search engine listings appropriately, you can shape your prospect’s experience of you before they even come to your website or blog. You can impress them with your credibility and visibility as they clickthrough to learn more- which makes it much more likely they will pay attention and take action once they arrive on your site.

The key to online reputation management is taking an active role and shaping information about your company. Do this sooner rather than later, or you may find, as my clients do, that you wish you had controlled the conversation better at the beginning, instead of trying to put out fires at the end.