5 Steps to Owning a Solid Online Reputation

We live in a world where your online reputation can literally make or break your career. Success and opportunity is no longer based on “who you know” but much more on “whom knows you.”

Googling someone is standard practice. We all do it, and what shows up strongly influences the decisions we make about others:

  • Should I hire this person?
  • Is he the right match for our team?
  • Should I date her?

Research shows that over 1.5 billion names are being Googled every day! Therefore, it goes without saying that you are being googled by others on a regular basis, perhaps right now!

How do you show up on Google?

What are people actually seeing about you when they search for you online? Search results for your name can be categorized in the following ways:

  1. Digitally Disguised – Nothing shows up when someone searches for you online. You essentially don’t exist! Sad, but true.
  2. Digitally Dissed – You exist on the web but not on page one. Even if you show up on page 2 or 3 of search results, you might as well be invisible as most people do not go past page 1 to find information about you.
  3. Digitally Disastrous – A lot of information does show up for your name, but it is either negative or worse yet about someone with a bad reputation or criminal record who happens to have the same name as you!
  4. Digitally Dabbling – There are some on-brand results for you and it accurately reflects who you are, but more information is needed to truly compel others to engage and do business with you.
  5. Digitally Distinct – This is where you want to be. There is a lot of relevant information about you on page one of search results and beyond. You are sending out the right message and even others are talking about you online building your visibility and credibility.

Over 75% of US adults feel that they are not accurately represented on their search results – clearly the need to be more proactive in managing our online reputations is required.

How to proactively build a good online rep:

Follow these 5 steps to proactively build a good rep online (even if you have a bad rap!):

1) Be content with content:

Summertime lunch at Bryant Park, Aug 2009 - 24(Yes, the stress goes on the second syllable in the first ‘content!’)

One of the best ways to make sure accurate, positive, and credible information shows up online about you is to actively generate new content on a regular basis. Share your thought leadership and expertise by starting your own blog, guest blogging for others, posting comments on LinkedIn groups, etc. As a blogger you have complete control over all the content your publish which translates immediately into complete control over your online identity.

2) Set up Google Authorship:

Google AuthorshipCreating content is one thing, but ensuring your authorship for this content is vital. Google allows you to verify your authorship to the content that shows up on Google search. Essentially what this does is link your content to your Google+ Profile. This means that your profile photo appears alongside search results attributed to you as all as a link to more content from you as the author. Even if you have zero interest in Google+, set up a G+ profile and link it to the content you create. This is one of the simplest and most overlooked ways to build your online reputation. To learn how to set up Google authorship click here.

3) Set up Google Alerts:

A fast and easy way to find out what is showing up online about you is to let Google tell you! By setting up Google alerts for “your name”, Google will email you on a regular basis every time you show up in search results. One thing to make sure to do is request Google to check “all results” and not just “only the best results.” This will ensure that anything and everything with your name will be monitored and reported back to you.

RELATED: How To Use Google Alerts for a Live Job Search

4) Choose your profiles wisely:

By: Mario SundarHaving an online presence in social media is a great way to increase your online reputation, but with so many networks out there it can be a challenge figuring out which one is best for your needs. One place you need to have a presence is on LinkedIn – it ranks higher than all other social networks on the first page of Google search results. Keep in mind that simply opening a LinkedIn page for Google ranking and leaving it blank can actually be damaging to your reputation. Take the time to create a complete LinkedIn profile with the branded presence that compels people to connect with you.

READ MORE: How to Create the Perfect LinkedIn Profile

5) Manage your rep:

Your online reputation is a living, growing creature. Simply doing the 4 steps above and expecting to be ‘digitally distinct’ forever is a recipe for failure. Eventually, your good rep might disappear. Managing your reputation with a handful of different online reputation management tools will ensure you will not be digitally dissed, disastrous, or disguised. Three leading tools I often recommend include,, and Each one offers a variety of services, free and paid, to meet your needs. The key here is to take ownership in managing your online presence all of the time. Even a small investment upfront in a reputation management tool can save you more than just money down the road.

Any other tips? Let us know in the comments below!

By Peter Sterlacci

Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer" and is one of 15 Master level Certified Personal Branding Strategists in the world. His company, BeYB, is introducing a leading global personal branding methodology to on-the-move careerists in Japan. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSterlacci