Does Your Online Identity Sabotage Your Executive Brand Reputation?

by Meg Guiseppi on October 9, 2009

 

When was the last time you Googled “your name” and looked at the content on the web pages for the first 3 or 4 search results? These web pages can make or break first impressions of you.

Whatever recruiters and hiring decision makers sourcing and assessing top talent, or potential customers, read about you on those web pages may be your first introduction to them.

What does the content reveal about you? Is the information up to date and relevant? Will it still resonate with your target audience, whether you’re job hunting or business-building?

I’m a frequent self-Googler, regularly checking to see what lands on page one of search results for my name. Usually the same ones come up – my blog/website, LinkedIn profile, VisualCV, ZoomInfo profile, my other website, an article or two on prominent websites, one of my Twitter accounts, maybe a well-placed blog comment or two, and my Google profile with photo nicely anchored at the bottom of the page.

Sounds like I’m doing a good job tending my online identity, right? Not really. I was guilty of not doing exactly what I caution my clients to do. I wasn’t diligent in keeping the information on all those web pages fresh and brand-reinforcing, as my focus changed.

My marketing strategy includes updating my LinkedIn profile at least once a week, posting to my blog at least twice a week, and tweeting several times a day. I revisit my Google and Zoom profiles regularly. Aside from my personal VisualCV, the rest of my page one results were things I couldn’t change.

Wait a minute! What about my personal VisualCV? It routinely lands at the #2 or #3 spot. I frequently update my company VisualCV, but that one almost always falls to page two.

I was horrified when I finally looked at the personal version. The thing was so out of date, it was negatively impacting my brand message and didn’t convey the right impression. I don’t think I had actually looked at it closely for nearly a year, and meanwhile my business focus and target client base had shifted.

I can only imagine how many lost sales my oversight may have cost me.

As soon as I had the several hours I knew it would take to spruce up my VisualCV, I completely revamped it. Luckily, this was a search result I had control over and could easily fix.

Don’t let it happen to you.

Self-Google regularly, but it’s not enough to look at the number and quality of search results for your name, you have to regularly look at the content on those web pages. Make sure the first several search results for “your name” are updated and brand-evident.

Chances are you have a LinkedIn profile, maybe some other social networking profiles, and presence on various other sites. Are you updating the focus of each of these as your job search or business focus changes? They may not resonate with your target audience any more.

Update and realign any of the web pages you can access.

If, heaven forbid, you have digital dirt out there that you can’t fix, you’ll need to run damage control. Start building up more and more positive search results so the negative ones will be pushed down to lower pages, eventually becoming ineffectual.

For strategies to build up brand-powered results and bury the bad ones, see my series of posts, Best of Online Brand Identity and Social Media.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jeff Lipschultz October 9, 2009 at 9:38 am

This is great advice. In this day and age, we must manage our online persona.
Also consider setting up a Google alert (under My Account in igoogle.com) that watches for new material on the Internet with your name and/or company name within the web page.
For more on some thoughts on your digital footprint, see http://tinyurl.com/n9j8he

Cheers,
Jeff

2 Meg Guiseppi October 9, 2009 at 11:30 am

Thanks for commenting, Jeff, and reminding my readers and me about Google Alerts. I wrote a post about it not too long ago, Why Google Alerts Is One of My Favorite Personal Branding Tools — http://executiveresumebranding.com/why-google-alerts-is-one-of-my-favorite-personal-branding-tools/

Ciao!
Meg

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