On the Internet, you have two reputations

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On the Internet, you have two reputations

Online you have one reputation with humans and another one with machines. Yes, machines — the search engines and databases that organise, store, graph and present the content that the humans see. If you’re concerned about online reputation management for business, executive or even personal issues, you need to start with the machines because that is where the collective knowledge (good and bad; your own content, and others’ content) about you is stored and retrieved from.

Machines don’t have opinions, they have binary

Human memory can retain impressions, prejudices and opinions for years, and can be hard to shift — especially if the reader or viewer is constantly exposed to messages that confirm his/her negative perceptions about a person or a brand or a topic. Machines memory, on the other hand, can be re-programmed. I’m not talking about literally physically wiping and re-configuring a database… I’m referring to something much more subtle: Feeding the right information in the correct format into the key points in the stream of digital signals flowing between content producers and content consumers. Once the machines that are the gatekeepers to the Internet process the new signals, the content they generate in response to searches and page requests will change.

As noted, machines don’t do opinions. Or prejudices. Make this work in your favour by:

  1. Quantifying what signals are currently being transmitted by and about you personally or your brand
  2. Assessing which are being accurately processed by machines (chances are they’re different from what you think)
  3. Optimizing the assets you have control over (e.g. your own servers, pages, profiles and content)
  4. Engaging in areas you can influence but can’t control (e.g. social networks, the blogosphere, online communities).

If you get these steps right, your content and messaging will gain maximum visibility on the traditional Web (in Web search engine indexes) and on the social Web (in social search, in the blog directories, the Twitterverse and the like).


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