Protecting Your Online Reputation

Dr Evil cartoon

When it comes to recruitment, your online presence is paramount. Many companies forget how accessible they are on the internet – candidates and potential employees will trawl through websites, social media and blogs to find as much information as possible. Managing your online reputation is therefore intrinsic to the recruitment process – and that includes the way your employees conduct themselves online too.

As company websites and other public profiles become more integrated by the day, the information shared between platforms needs to be carefully assessed and cross-referenced, ensuring your employer brand remains consistent and attractive. A simple search for a company on Google will throw up a variety of different results – some of these are company controlled, some are employee controlled, and some are completely out of your control.

Roughly 90 percent of online searching is now done through Google. The first page of results is what most people will go on, so maintaining a positive ‘first page’ on Google should be top of your list. That may sound straightforward, but what about putting it into practice? Have you taken the time to think about what people may find when they search your company’s name? What about your name, or your employees? And what happens if the company is being misrepresented online – groundless negative reviews, bad press, personal attacks or even worse?

Get optimising. The best way to avoid these embarrassments is to ensure all your content is optimised, so that when someone searches for your company or employees, only your own digital assets and positive content appears on page one.

Check privacy settings. Nearly everyone is on a social network, such as Facebook and Twitter. If you or your employees have content (blog posts, photos, etc) that could potentially show the company in a bad light, be sure the privacy settings reflect this. Everyone is entitled to an online life – but it’s important that private online activity stays… well…. private.

Contact websites directly. If something compromising is posted about your company, contact the website / webmaster directly and ask for it to be removed. Most websites will be happy to comply – but if all else fails, why not respond to any negative posts with your side of the story.

Negative content isn’t always removable. If this happens, make sure you start posting positive content and optimise it accordingly for Google with SEO, tags and links. Although the negative press will still exist, you reduce its visibility and send your own content up the Google rankings. Always keep up to date with your online search results by regularly Googling your company.

Professional profiles. As business owners and HR professionals, Googling candidates before an interview to check their online presence is standard, especially on professional platforms such as LinkdIn. We all look for candidates to conduct themselves in the highest professional manner – but it’s a two-way street, and candidates will no doubt be searching for you too. But how can you be sure that your personal profiles reflect the employer brand? Check up on yourself and your employees, and be objective. Typical indiscretions include linking to personal photo galleries or inflammatory blog posts. These indiscretions may not be directly linked to a person’s professional life, but they will certainly reflect heavily on the company.

Ultimately, by regularly creating and monitoring your own company content, you avoid the trap of allowing others to do the talking for you. If in doubt, get the opinion of a trusted external party, such as your recruitment agency.