Ever feel like you are at the mercy of search engines, with your negative online results overshadowing the positive ones? 75% of HR departments are required to Google potential employees, and that doesn’t even take into account future bosses or colleagues looking you up. While it’s unfortunate that your professional persona is affected by your private online presence, it’s a reality that proves to be unavoidable.

It’s also possible that someone who shares your name has some skeletons online. If employers can’t see you, there’s no way to distinguish between the two of you. Someone who shares your name could also be more renowned than you, leading to his or her successes overshadowing your own. Imagine having your dream job find the first “Beth Henderson” they discover is a Harlequin romance novelist. It’s not exactly what you’d want to be known for!

You can take control though! Here are four nightmarish online results you should keep an eye out for and how to avoid them:

1. Negative Press
It’s simple to find bad press for any business or person, even if the negativity is completely unfounded.  Specific news outlets for your industry could lead to headlines you’d prefer to hide.

Take Control: Set up Google Alerts with your name so you know real time if any press is coming out about you. Knowledge is power. If you feel you have been misrepresented, many press sites allow for comments and the sooner you know, the sooner you can comment and help people see your side of the story.

2. Legal Trouble

Sometimes smart people do stupid things. If you’ve ever had an arrest or other legal issues in the past, more often than not, this will appear in a Google search. You could have been at the wrong college party at the wrong time, but it still could negatively affect your career prospects.

Take Control: Put your best foot forward online and create smart privacy settings. Remember that even your personal life can become public in an instant if it provokes controversy. There are services like BrandYourself that can help you take ownership of your search results but the best rule of thumb is to avoid them in the first place!

3. Unhappy Customer Reviews

Let’s be real, you can’t please everyone. Even if your business is the cream of the crop, sometimes people aren’t happy. With review sites, it’s easy for both negative and positives reviews to be published on an open platform with no consequences for the writers.

Take Control: Always comment back to feedback. If someone has something negative to say, respond publicly and resolve privately. This will let the world know that you care about your customers and want to fix their experience, and allows you to resolve in an offline manner.

4. Slander

Whether it’s from an unhappy ex or someone just looking for revenge, there could be some pretty vile stuff written about you online. The internet is a relatively free forum for opinion and once something’s up, it’s next to impossible to take down.

Take Control: There are bound to be TONS of positive qualities about you and great things people could be saying. Bury any slander with a flood of positive messaging. Sooner rather than later, it will be old news hidden deep into search results. 

 If you’d like to learn more about building your online brand, join Dave Kerpen, New York Times best selling author and Likeable Local CEO, for his webinar 7 Ways to Build A Better Brand On Social on Thursday, November 13th at 11am. Register today!
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