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Who cares about your online reputation?

Your online reputation can be seen in a number of ways. Whether you’re seeking employment, selling a product, looking for an investor or trying to score a date, someone is going to turn to a search engine to learn more about you.

How can a negative online reputation affect you?

The results of a negative online reputation may be as subtle as a user clicking on a competitor’s search result instead of yours or as damaging as an industry-wide boycott of your products and/or services. Besides the obvious financial implications of having a company’s credibility called into question, there are potential legal ramifications that could dominate your time and cripple your financial sustainability, as well. This will often cement trusted news and legal results in the top search rankings so that even if a case is dismissed or resolved, you’ll be living with the consequences for years to come.

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How do you assess your online reputation?

Most users won’t look past the first page or two of search results, so you only need to look at a couple pages for each keyword on the major search engines. Start with simple searches on Google; Yahoo and MSN for all that apply:

  • Your Name
  • Company
  • Brand(s)
  • Product(s)
  • High profile employees
  • Handles/usernames

Tools to Track Your Online Reputation

Set up alerts and feeds to catch every mention of your name, company, brand, employees, domain, etc. You want to get notification before a problem escalates or enters the top search results. There are hundreds of tools that can help you manage your online reputation, but as a small business owner or individual, the following are the most comprehensive and user-friendly solutions we’ve found.

Feed Reader
Set up a feed reader to help you view the custom feeds you’ll be tracking for your keyword phrases.

Google Alerts
Set up Google Alerts for free to track Web results, news, blogs, video and groups.

Yahoo Alerts
Set up Yahoo Alerts for free to track news by keyword, stocks, local news, feeds and more. Receive notifications via email, Yahoo Messenger or mobile.

Twitter Search
Formerly known as Surmise, Twitter Search makes it simple to search Twitter for any mentions of a particular keyword phrase. There is also an array of advanced search parameters that let you search by location, sentiment, dates, links, a particular person and more.

Social Mention
Social Mention is similar to Google Alerts, but specifically tailored for social media. Since Google Alerts can be buggy, Social Mention helps catch immediate conversations around a specific keyword.

Q&A Tracking
if anyone is asking questions about you, your company or a particular keyword, you can track those on certain Q&A sites like Yahoo Answers.