There are a number of strategies for burying damaging information and increasing your professional online presence. These include populating professional networking sites; providing professional comments about books, articles or other posts; blogging about job related knowledge; and tweeting. In all cases, these strategies are an opportunity to showcase your knowledge or expertise on particular topics while simultaneously minimizing google results that negatively impact your marketability.
Professional Social Network Presence
One strategy for improving online reputation is to populate a variety of social media sites with public professional content. For instance, you can create public professional profiles on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and blogging web sites to create flattering content for the web. Many of these sites dominate search results and can quickly bury old content if you create accounts.
Key point: Although privacy settings should be maximized on private profiles, it is important to make professional postings “public” so they are easily captured by search engines (Downey, 2012).
Tweet on Twitter
Twitter is a popular social media platform that allows users to send and read short messages (140 characters or less) called tweets. To increase your positive online presence, you can tweet about professional opinions, articles, or content; follow thought leaders in your professional industry; and retweet interesting or compelling ideas. Tweets are a quick way to populate search results because they are fairly easy to create.
Post Pictures on Instagram
Posting professional or proof-of-performance images on Instagram can be valuable for boosting your online identity. This is particularly true for creative professions like fashion design, food preparation, landscaping, or web design. Use hashtag strategies to optimize chances that your photos will be viewed by the right people.
Post Presentations on Slideshare
Slideshare is a free presentation sharing website that allows users to post presentations that can be searched for, viewed, and shared by the public. Users can also embed Slideshare presentations into other online posts to improve uptake and visibility. Slideshare content can come from a variety of sources including PowerPoint presentations, videos, PDFs and other documents. It is a great way to highlight your expertise and expand your reach. For instance, if you conducted a presentation at the Rotary Club on local poverty issues, you could convert the slides for broader consumption, while also showcasing skills in making presentations, organizing complex ideas, and engaging local initiatives. Here are some best practices for creating a Slideshare presentation (Scherer, n.d.).
- Pick a title that is both searchable and simple to understand.
- Add a description that provides a one or two sentence overview of the presentation.
- Include hashtags that describe the content and drive viewers to the presentation
- Include links within the presentation to increase search optimization.
- Keep the format consistent.
- Don’t overcrowd slides, since this makes it hard to view the information.
- Use bullets and bolding to highlight important text.
Post Videos on YouTube
Video is an important addition to your online profile because it provides a platform where viewers can watch how you communicate and visually connect with people. YouTube videos might include your point-of-view on a professional topic, a video bio where you describe your passions and goals, or a proposal to pitch your ideas (Arruda, 2013). Video also provides an opportunity to showcase attributes that don’t come out through words, like humor or enthusiasm. Just remember to keep it professional and in line with the reputation you hope to project (i.e. polished, creative, etc.).
Create a Google+ Account
Google+ is a social networking site that connects users based on interests and passions. It allows for strategic posting to separate interest communities and has specific settings for regulating or controlling the types and amount of information received. For instance, if you belong to two interest communities like gardening and graphic design, your personal feed can be configured to see only a few posts about gardening relative to multiple posts about design (Wagoner, 2014). Additionally, by joining interest communities, Google+ provides a streamlined way to receive and comment on information specific to your interests or industry.
Because both Google+ and YouTube are owned and managed by Google, they have an added advantage of ranking high in Google search results.
Create a Personal Website
A personal website can be used to develop a visual resume that highlights your personality, experience, and proof of performance. WordPress, Squarespace, and About Me are popular sites for getting started. To begin, provide some basic information including:
- A creative and professional photo that fits with your industry.
- A brief personal statement that tells viewers about your passions.
- Links to other professional social media sites, like LinkedIn.
- Contact information.
- Links to relevant documents, such as your resume, a short bio, or a portfolio of your best work (i.e. articles you’ve written, graphic designs you have created, pictures of baked goods you have created, etc.).
Here are some examples of personal websites to give you inspiration.
http://www.andreamann.com/ – writer, singer
http://lauramarchbanks.com/blog/ – wedding photographer
http://pushkarmodi.com/ – software engineer
http://www.rleonardi.com/interactive-resume/ – video game developer!
http://mig.io/ – writer, website designer
http://www.garylemasson.com/ – everything website
A blog contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by an author (Mirriam-Webster, 2016). For job search, blogs can be used to increase your visibility, improve your online reputation, showcase your ideas, or engage your network.
To be an effective blogger, consider the following (Arruda, 2015):
- Create content on topics that are targeted and representative of your brand or the professional image you want to project.
- Post regularly. Blogs posted on Thursday, Sunday and Tuesday have the most views. Pick one of those days and post on a weekly, monthly or bimonthly basis.
- Use a format including fonts and headings that represent your message or target industry. For instance, fonts, colors and styles used by an after school arts teacher might be different from someone who works for a law firm.
- Post in a consistent writing style.
- Post at least three paragraphs per entry.
- Include posts that have a broad appeal so you have a foundation of searchable content.
- Consider including a topic related photo to increase viewer interest.
- Try to create posts with catchy titles and relevant key words to hook readers.
- Involve others in the content with quotes or links to other articles. This adds depth to your posts while building and maintaining your professional network.
- Promote your posts on a variety of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
- Keep track of the number of views for each post to help identify topics that are interesting to your audience. This can be a good indicator of what topics should be expanded on in future posts.
Getting a Blog Started. To get started with blogging, you first need to choose a blogging platform. Currently, the most popular platform is WordPress. It is free and easy to use, has lots of free themes and layouts, and includes features that allow people to comment on and share content (Knapp, 2016). Other popular choices include Blogger and Tumblr. LinkedIn has a long-posting feature that can serve as a platform for a professionally-focused blog. Also, there are lots of blogs about blogging to help you get started!
Arruda, William (June 14, 2015). 5 Steps for Maximizing LinkedIn’s Blogging Feature for Personal Branding. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2015/06/14/5-steps-for-maximizing-linkedins-blogging-feature-for-personal-branding/#2ef174de10bc
Arruda, William (August 20, 2013). Three ways to use video to build your personal brand. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2013/08/20/three-ways-to-use-video-to-build-your-personal-brand/#70316ef61f09
Downey, S. (June 18, 2012). How to Push Negative Search Results Down: 4 Steps to Bury Them. Retrieved from: https://www.abine.com/blog/2012/push-negative-search-results-down/
Knapp, J. (March 10, 2016). How to start a blog – beginner’s guide for 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.bloggingbasics101.com/how-do-i-start-a-blog/
Merriam Webster (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blog
Scherer, J. (2013). How to use Slideshare to market your business. Retrieved from Wishpond: http://blog.wishpond.com/post/65625848609/how-to-use-slideshare-to-market-your-business
Wagoner, A. (August 2, 2014). What is Google+ and why should I use it? Retrieved from: http://www.androidcentral.com/what-google-and-why-should-i-use-it