By now, you’ve probably read about the Shoemoney vs. uptight hotel employee incident. Silly story, but what could you do to protect yourself when you’ve made enemies, whether deserved or not?
- Buy your own name: And not just the dot.com variation, but the dot.net, plus with dashes (your-name.com) as well as yournamesucks.com. No need to go too crazy with buying a bunch of domains. This is just a placeholder to protect yourself against folks who might buy your name later to get the benefit of exact match. Google gives you a bump if the search query exactly matches the domain name.
- Put up a few posts on your blog site: Ideally, write a few articles that are interesting– something that is link-worthy. You’re using this content as a base against which to encourage friends to link to you. If you already have your own name and a blog up, fabulous– then you’re already building history. The engines prefer aged domains.
- Get links: This part is the most important. A blog that sits on the web all by itself with nobody else voting to it looks like a splog– it has zero authority. Most SEOs say that inbound links contribute towards 70%+ of rankings. Ask friends to add you to your blogroll. If your name is Ryan White, then it’s unlikely you’ll have a reputation problem, since there are so many Ryan White’s on the web.
- Tie it all together: Tie in your Facebook and Twitter profiles both ways. Put your website address everywhere– Google will pick it up, whether or not those links pass juice. The number and power of links needed to protect your name is based on how common your name is.
- Don’t piss off other people: Most people are reasonable, but if you agitate them enough, they may seem to destroy you. Better to avoid getting in these situations in the first place.
If you’ve committed a major crime or done something egregious to get written up in a major publication, these tips will only partially help you. But better to have these things already in place should a PR crisis hit– think of it like insurance– as opposed to having to scramble at the last minute. If these tips don’t quite do it for you, ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can give you some help.
This area is called Search Engine Reputation Management– a field that is becoming increasingly important. Why? The web provides a permanent record of what you do. Whether or not you choose to respond to it, people are still talking about you. So you can choose to participate in that conversation and hopefully, shape it positively. If you are a company, you should have a company policy to buy the names of all new employees as an insurance policy to protect them as well as your company. Then stick wordpress on it.