Google Yourself

“A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1

I was recently contacted by a friend who owned a home remodeling business. For years, his company was well respected and had a steady stream of clients. That is until this past year when business was suddenly brought to a standstill.

One, two…eight months went by without any new clients. Greatly distressed and a little confused, the owner wondered, “Why such a sudden halt?” The answer came when he googled his company name and found a disparaging online review of his business. The owner knew the writer to be a customer who had complained of several issues with his work, but he had resolved the customer’s issues and she was now satisfied. However in the short time before the resolution, she published her frustration online and had never taken it down.

The consequences were devastating. Any potential customer who would search on the internet for the company would see the negative review, and would look for another remodeler to bid on the project. Though the post has since been taken down, the business’s reputation was already decimated by the many months of no sales and is now in the process of bankruptcy.

Online reviews are a part of daily life. After all, there is no easier way of discovering the type of service you could expect from a company than the simple act of typing a few words into a search engine. Studies have shown that people overwhelmingly trust online reviews as valid as a personal recommendation. Even if you are not a business owner, your online reputation affects your job search, ministry, and even friendships.

Here are several steps to take to preserve your name.

1. Google your name periodically and don’t stop with just your name. Particularly if you have a common name, you should include modifying terms such as your home town, employer, schools, and affiliate organizations in your search.

2. Browse Google Images and examine what the photos might communicate to others who do not know you.

3. Set up Google Alert for your name, business, ministry, etc. This is an easy way to be aware of any new content that may be posted on the internet affecting you. It will send you an email anytime the search term is mentioned on the web. You set up the alerts by going to Google.com/Alerts.

If you should find objectionable material, there are several steps to take depending on the content.

In general, sites will not remove a legitimate review no matter how negative it is. The best step to take is to respond as a business and explain your position. If you know who posted the material, contact them and try reconciling your differences. Even if they do not take down the original review, they may modify it or add a comment that mitigates the damage.

If the content is defamatory or patently false, contact the website host and ask for it to be taken down. It is not uncommon for internet trolls, spammers, or even business competitors to post false material or ratings online. Most web hosts have a way to report the review and request to have it removed.

Ultimately, however, the best way to counter a negative review is to overwhelm it with positive reviews. Ask enthusiastic clients to write an evaluation and have them post it on multiple platforms such as Yelp, Amazon, Google My Business, Angie’s List, Yahoo Local, your Facebook business page, along with the many industry-specific sites.

Your reputation as business, ministry, and individual is one of your most valuable assets; do not leave it unmonitored on the unpredictable waves of the internet. Google yourself.

 

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