Over the last few weeks, the Ryan Giggs story has exploded all over the Internet, seriously damaging his reputation. You don’t have to be a celebrity for this to happen, it can happen to you too.
In this internet age, there will be a conversation about us on the Internet. If it is malicious we can either roll over and play dead, or we can fight back and take back control.
Let us suppose that one of the following applies:
• You have done something stupid in the past, that you now regret, and you got into trouble for it, and it was reported all over the Internet. You have paid your dues to society, and now you want to turn over a new leaf. Is it fair that this incident should basically define you for the rest of your life?
• You own a business and fake and malicious reviews are being posted anonymously about you on a review site. They are probably posted by a competitor, but this is impossible to prove.
• You are a businessman who was falsely accused by an ex business partner, and taken to a tribunal. Although you were cleared of any wrongdoing, all the accusations and question marks still appear on news websites and trade blogs, raising a subconscious question mark about you.
• You are the victim of an anonymous hate campaign on the forums, because you are different in some way, and you have a bit of money, so people are jealous of you. People spend all day posting sarcastic and malicious comments about you.
• You are a victim of a con that makes you look stupid, and this was reported in the tabloids, and therefore Google.
• You are a legitimate business, and malicious lies are being spread about you by an ex-employee that has a grudge against you.
These are actual scenarios faced by my clients and ex-clients
Every individual and every business should check on Google to see if there is anything negative about them. They should do this frequently, and take pro-active steps to deal with anything negative that comes up.
But what sort of things should we do? Most people are not experts on the Internet, and would have no idea how to respond to this sort of attack.
You should try and ensure that every item on the first page for your name is either controlled by you, positive or neutral about you, or about somebody else with the same name. That might mean creating a blog or two, or opening an account at a powerful social media site like Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. Then if you know how, you should use basic search engine optimisation techniques like link building to promote these sites. In more difficult cases, you would have to call in an expert to help you.
It is important to also control variants of your name, especially if another word is added. eg ‘John Smith Cambridge’ or ‘John Smith dentist Cambridge’. The reason for that is that people often search for variants to make sure they are looking at the results for correct person.
Whatever the case, it is maybe time to check Google, just to make sure that what is ranking there (also called your Google CV) reflects the message you want to give the world.