As someone who’s trying to make money online it’s crucial that you work under the assumption that absolutely everything you put online will remain there forever. Every embarrassing photo, every spiteful comment, every negative comment you make and every unscrupulous sales page you create will remain online to haunt you for the rest of your life. Managing your reputation online isn’t just something you do when you’re getting ready to launch a new product. It’s an ongoing procuess that’s crucial to your success.
The generation of bloggers coming online now has never known life without the Internet. Slamming their coworkers and bullying their buddies on Facebook is a way of life. They have no qualms about discussing their money problems, their drinking escapades or their sex lives online. They strike out with a vengeance when they leave comments, their spelling is atrocious and their utter lack of compassion for their fellow human beings is appalling.
If you’re one of these people and you’re trying to make money online, then you need to take a look at your online reputation. Because whether you know it or not, your readers are checking you out. And there’s a lot more out there to see than you realize.
The first thing to do is Google yourself and see what other people are saying about you. To do this you’ll have to log off your Google account so you can see what everybody else sees. If you have a popular name then use keywords like your city or school to narrow your search results.
Don’t forget to scroll through a few pages, too, and while you’re at it, take a look at the images that come up. You only thought you deleted that picture of you taken during that keg party but someone else captured it and posted it on Facebook before you took it down.
When you’re done with Google go check the other search engines, too, like Yahoo and Bing. And let’s not forget about any dating sites or gaming sites or … other sites you might hang out on.
Delete as much of this negative content as you can but in most cases you’re going to have to contact the site owner and ask that your embarrassing content be taken down. This is not the time to be belligerent. They might not want to remove your nasty comment but they’ll be much more willing to cooperate if you’re nice about it. Get all up in their face and they might just highlight that picture of you and spread it all over the Web.
Once you’ve removed as much as you can it’s time to start rebuilding your reputation. The best way to do that is to create good, positive content to push those other listings further down the index. It might take a while but remember, you got yourself into this mess, now you’ll have to do the work to repair it.
Clean up your social network profiles. Get rid of embarrassing pictures and delete those nasty comments, even if it means wiping out your whole page.
And one last word of advice: Before you post that next suggestive Facebook status or leave another nasty comment, ask yourself this – Why are you doing this? What do you hope to achieve? Is it really worth risking your online reputation?