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Take Control of Your Online Reputation

Ever “Googled” someone? Sure, we all have. These days, the Internet is the first place we go to find and gather information about someone. Whether you ask Siri or type in a search string, our introduction to a new contact is whatever we discover on the Internet. That begs the question, what’s your Internet presence look like? Try it, Google yourself. See what you find. Ideally, if you are practicing attorney, you want that first page of results to accurately reflect your brand. Now, this isn’t an easy feat. It takes work to build your online presence. Unfortunately, if you have negative information (maybe a disciplinary history) floating out there, it can be difficult to make it disappear. However, if you take steps to increase your online presence, you can curate the search results in your favor and effectively hide any negative information by pushing it down to subsequent search result pages.
Here are a few tips for managing your online reputation:
1) Create or claim strategic online profiles. For example, LinkedIn does an excellent job with it’s search engine optimization, thus a name search of an attorney with a LinkedIn profile will typically result in that attorney’s LinkedIn profile among the top results. Creating a profile with LinkedInis a simple and effective way to provide a potential client or referral source with information about your practice. Be sure to set your LinkedIn profile settings to allow your profile to be viewed by the public.
2) Build a website. This is another way in which you can curate your appearance in the eyes of the public rather than stand to chance whatever might be lurking on the Internet about you and your firm. Spend time developing your website content to fit with your brand.
3) Have a blog and use social media. Search engines index blog entries and social media. Therefore, the more you can effectively utilize these programs, the better chance your blog and social media entries will appear in search results associated with your name.
4) Monitor blog comments, recommendations, and reviews. For sites that allow commenting (i.e. blogs), recommendations (i.e. LinkedIn), and reviews (i.e. Google, Yelp, Avvo), be sure to monitor what people are posting about you. If it is unfavorable, reach out to the commenter on a personal level. Having a personal conversation may very well lead the commentor to pull his/her negative comment. You can further monitor what people might be saying about you on the Internet by setting up Google alerts based on your name.
5) Assume everything is public. Don’t put anything online that would be damaging to your reputation if released to the public. If you do use certain social media platforms for purely personal endeavors, proceed with caution and be sure to check and double check that the privacy settings are set accordingly.
This post originally appeared in the Massachusetts Bar Association’s eJournal.