5 Ways to Damage Your Personal Online Reputation

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Personal Reputation

As the online reputation management (ORM) field continues to emerge and evolve, people are starting to realize that monitoring and consistently working on their online reputations is not just for people with an affinity for digital marketing, or those who have problems with negative reviews or listings. 

They are learning the reality of today’s world: Online reputations merit attention on an ongoing basis.

Beyond simply paying attention, it’s possible to do consistent, inadvertent harm to your personal online reputation, even if you’re an individual who respects others, and operates within what most would consider safe boundaries of behavior. We see many people doing damage to their online reputations, or getting hit with damage without even knowing it. Specifically, here are 5 ways:

(1) Being “Antisocial”:  There’s no law against not having an active social media presence. In fact, we completely understand why many people choose not to engage. But the simple fact is, a lack of presence can damage your online reputation. We’re often challenged on this premise, and it’s understandable.  “How can no presence be a negative?”

From a professional standpoint, not being active on social media hurts your chances in being recruited for a better job, or hired in a competitive landscape where there are multiple candidates vying for a single job opening.  More often than not, employers and recruiters are looking at social media properties to learn valuable information about potential candidates.  According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring.  Without a social presence, not only are you not helping recruiters with their efforts, but also you’re missing a BIG opportunity to control the narrative, and share/showcase great content that puts your brand in a positive light!

(2) Voicing Political Opinions:  Today we find ourselves in an unprecedented period of political activity, and a very volatile landscape in the world of news.  The urge to voice opinions on social media grows stronger each day. And more and more people fall prey to the temptation.  Not good, at least in our opinion. Naysayers will say that we’re overly cautious and perhaps boring. They’ll argue that we don’t understand the essence and spirit of the first amendment.  Our take:  When it comes to your online reputation, you should always take safe over sorry.

Think about it this way: voicing strong support for a political side immediately alienates you from 30-50% of others who go the other way; potentially in a way that prevents you from landing a job, securing a new piece of business, or getting a second date! This is not an overreaction: Politics has a way of making very rational people act and speak irrationally.

Stop and think about that for a second. Is it really worth it?

(3) Ignoring Out of Date Content:  We see this in two primary areas; one, social media platforms that are not updated, and two, online listings that rank highly (i.e. Zoominfo, Hoovers) that have you living or working somewhere that is not up-to-date.

The damage to a person’s online reputation here is not significant, but within the overall context of search, when people can’t find accurate information, they move on quickly to another source. It would be a shame for you to miss out on an opportunity because of inaccuracies.

(4) Lack of Awareness: This can’t be stated enough: You have to be aware of search engine results for your name. We can’t tell you how many times people are “shocked” by what they find in results. The good news is, it’s an easy situation to monitor. For starters, make sure to do a search for your name at least once a month on your own. Next, set up alerts through each of the search engines so you get news about new listings with your name r as they appear. Here are links to help you get started.

BING: how-to-get-personal-with-bing

GOOGLE: how-to-set-up-google-alerts

YAHOO: yahoo-search-alert

(5) Guilt by Association: If you have a common first and last name that’s shared by many people, you’re going to get hit with a lot of new listings in search results. It’s imperative that you screen them carefully, and determine if there’s even a hint of a chance that any negative listing from someone else that shares your name can be associated with your personal brand. We’ve worked with clients who have this problem, and it can be very frustrating.

Alternatively, sometimes negative reviews about a significant other or family member will rank very high in a search for your name – and you get hit with guilt by association. In either case, there are remedies to solve the problem. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss your specific situation.


If there’s a single message to convey here, it’s that you need to consistently stay on top of and monitor your online reputation. Don’t worry if anything negative should happen, because invariably it might – there are always remedies to fix a given situation.

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