Your name holds tremendous power; how you write and use your name determines where you stand with regard to internet search engines. Example: “Joe Smith” and “Joseph Smith” may refer to the same person, but to an Internet search engine they’re two different people. It sounds rather simple and many people often overlook this, but it is a very important point to consider when taking control of your name and internet reputation.
The first step in taking control of your reputation is enforcing ‘name consistency’. Your name must be the same across the board: how you list your name on your various social media platforms must be consistent. For example, you could be “Joe Smith” on your Facebook page, but on your LinkedIn page listing yourself as “Joseph Smith” is, to a search engine, a totally different person. So if you were to do a search of your name, depending on how you type in your name, the search engine will return a listing about you in a ranking order based upon an algorithm (more on this later).
Which brings us to the necessity of employing multiple social media points.
Search engines rely upon information their can find existing within the Internet (granted, ‘dark nets’ are a different topic, but we’re focusing on the more ‘socially accepted’ Internet. ‘Dark Net’s are a realm onto themselves and do not concern us here). Social media platforms are the primary means by which your personal information is readily obtained by search engines, as social media platforms are, by definition, public information (unless you so define your identity and actions on your social media platforms as ‘private’). Other information – such as traffic fines, criminal records or other governmental records – can sometimes be found on the Internet, although these usually require paid access / subscription fees.
Having a consistent name on all of your social media platforms – i.e., “Joe Smith” – on your Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress, etc. – is vital for you to control your name and reputation.
Search engines will take whatever mentions your name and references it for viewing. Unfortunately, this also means any negative reviews, statements or publications which disparage or attack you can also appear under your name. But if you have your social media sites linked and working together, utilizing (your) same name (consistently) you now have a powerful tool at your disposal: the creation of a ‘Web of Reputation’.
Here’s where we talk about search engines algorithm. For the sake of simplicity, search engines rely heavily upon the number of times a given link is viewed and whether or not it’s active. For example, a link regarding an event taking place several years ago is far less likely to be listed as being an active link as it’s old information – and thus, over time it will become ‘buried’ and fall lower on the search engine’s result listing regarding your name (one exception to this is news articles, as online news articles often link to other articles or live links within a given publication, and thus online news articles tend to have greater ‘staying power’, although if the publication is a smaller one, caches are it won’t have a long life).
This is where your ‘web of reputation’ comes into play. Having your various social media platforms unified under the same user name enables what you publish / share on those social platforms to more easily appear within search engines under your name. This is important to understand: search engines hold a greater priority to original material. Things that are repeated can hold an impact, but not nearly as great as newly created / original material. Fresh is better. Thus, should you publish something – on your blog, do a tweet, etc. – chances are it will have a greater priority over other items mentioning your name on a search engine result.
Now you start taking control of your reputation.
As your various social media platforms publish what you’re saying, you can control how you present yourself. Say if you’re a consultant working on computers, you oversee a blog or a posting (and perhaps an occasional tweet or two). In time as you do these things, your name will become associated with your profession: a computer consultant. As the links are connected, your work is featured more easily as it involves less work for search engines to find information about you. Additionally, as you gain more followers, people will ‘share’, repeat or reference what you are saying, reinforcing your activity with your reputation growing ever more.
The more you put out, the better your ranking becomes.
Savvy social platform media users will know that social media platforms often will automatically link to each other (or offer you the option to link) – say between Facebook and Twitter (as one example). This is an excellent approach to utilize: just as consistency with your name is vital, so too is consistency with your message and having it appear on multiple platforms. Having the same postings appear (with your name included within the text matching that which you have listed on your social media platforms – very important!) across multiple platforms at the same time, your efforts will truly make a difference on your search engine indexing – and with this, a truly positive impact on your controlling your reputation.
Consistency is the key to internet reputation. Over time, your positive reputation will grow.
Next, we’ll talk more about the various social platforms and how they can work to your advantage.