There was an inspirational bumper sticker back in the ‘80s that read: “Don’t worry about what anyone says behind your back… it’s none of your business!” Alas, this may have worked 30 years ago, but in the internet age, you need to be proactive about managing your online reputation—for the sake of your business and your bottom line!
According to Forbes Magazine, you can outsource the task of reputation management and let a professional handle it for as little as $399 per year, but unless you’ve got a big PR challenge, that might not be necessary. To manage your reputation on your own, begin by conducting a Google search for every possible variation of your name, including your full name, nickname, maiden name, etc. Next, search for your name in conjunction with relevant keywords, such as “real estate,” “REALTOR®,” the name of your brokerage, and the name of your city. Finally, search for your current email addresses and any email address you can remember from your past.
If you stumble across a website that posts slanderous or sensitive information (such as bank account numbers, unauthorized videos or images, etc.), you can contact Google and ask them to remove this information from their search results (click here to learn about Google’s removal process). Of course, removing it from a Google search will not remove it from the website itself—you’ll need to contact the website’s administrators and ask to have it removed. If the webmaster refuses, contact your attorney to determine whether you have any legal recourse.
Needless to say, you may not be successful getting someone to remove a comment or a review just because it’s unflattering. That said, you can dilute any negative voices by encouraging more positive reviews. Yes, it’s human nature to speak up when there’s a problem and to say nothing when everything goes swimmingly, but that’s all the more reason to ask your satisfied clients to leave a review on Yelp, Facebook, Google Reviews, etc. Make this a habit even if you don’t have any negative reviews to counter. After all, the more five star reviews your prospects see, the more comfortable they’ll feel trusting you with their transactions.
Once you’ve scoured the internet for any mention of your name or your business, create a Google Alert for each variation on your name. Visit www.google.com/alerts and enter your name into the “Create an alert about…” field. Enter your email address in the appropriate field below, and you’ll receive an email every time your name appears in the news or across the web.
Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the best way to have a stellar online reputation is to avoid creating problems in the first place. To that end, be sure to remain professional on all public social media outlets, choose your clients carefully, and do whatever you can to resolve potential issues before your clients take to the internet.