While you can certainly use different strategies to repair your image online, the best way to protect your online reputation is to be proactive. There are a number of measures you can take immediately that act as a defense against any negative information that could show up on the internet and harm your reputation.
Tip 1: Create Profiles Everywhere
Make sure that you have profiles in your own name, brand and company name in all the major social networks and bookmarking sites. These include Twitter, Facebook and Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, Google+, Yahoo and YouTube in particular. You should also consider creating profiles at MySpace, Naymz, and any new or rising social networks.
Don’t forget about the major bookmarking services and Q&A sites also, such as StumbleUpon and Yahoo Answers.
Tip 2: Create Email Addresses
Make sure you have an email address in your name at gmail, at the minimum. Since this is such a widely used email service, you don’t want to end up with someone creating a gmail account in your name and sending information that looks like it came from you personally. You should also consider creating free accounts at widely used services like Hotmail and Yahoo among others.
Tips 3: Register Your Personal Domains
Even if you’re not planning to have your own blog, register your name as a domain so that someone else can’t claim it. You can use a domain registry like GoDaddy.com or Namecheap.com to claim your domain. Set it up so that it automatically renews each year.
You could also set up personal blogs at WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and Tumblr.com. Even if you only put up a single page with some public information about yourself, it’s worth claiming blogs in your name at these major sites. Look around to see if there are other places or sites in your market where people are active. Then set up profiles under your name there as well.
Tip 4: Check Your Privacy Settings
In any profiles or accounts that have privacy settings, check them carefully to make sure you are only allowing appropriate information to be seen publicly. For example, you can set your Facebook profile privacy to hide your personal details from anyone other than people you have added as friends. The same goes for sites like Picasa, where people might be able to find embarrassing photos that you’ll regret later.
Tip 5: Actively Engage and Publish
While you may have set up profiles and accounts in a variety of places online, that doesn’t mean you have to be actively participating everywhere. Unless you have an army of helpers, that would be impossible. You need to be in the places where you want to be seen.
Pick the sites where your market is hanging out or where they go for information. Make sure you are engaging with people on a regular basis in those places, answering and asking questions. If there are specific types of sites where people in your market go for information, make sure you are regularly creating valuable content and publishing it there for everyone to read.
If you protect your online reputation from the start, you can control at least some of the information that appears on the web. By making it more difficult for people to hijack your name and by keeping up a steady flow of content, you give yourself a significant edge against the type of people who might want to harm your image.