With the Republican primary in full swing, you may have had the occasion to google Rick Santorum, and if so, you probably got quite a surprise when you landed on a top-ranking site for his name. The site was launched in 2003 after the then-senator from Pennsylvania compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, prompting syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage, who is gay, to “memorialize the scandal” by soliciting reader suggestions for slang terms for Santorum’s name.
The site was a result of that contest, and it rose in Google rankings, thanks in part to bloggers who linked to it, eventually eclipsing Santorum’s own campaign site in search results. Even Santorum’s ascent as a Fox News contributor and his political campaign haven’t managed to budge the item off its top ranking. So what can Santorum do to rid himself of this site at the top of Google search results? What can you do if you find yourself with a similar problem? How do you manage your online reputation?
- First, set up Google Alerts for your name and/or business to monitor your reputation.
- If you haven’t already done so, claim your name in Godaddy or other domain name registration sites in all its forms (.com, .org,.biz, etc.), plus buy as many of the negative forms that you can afford and can think of (“yournamesucks.com,” etc.) to prevent others from squatting and turning them against you. (Note: It is impossible to think of everything, as this particular site proves.)
- Post positive content. You’ve got to create relevant, positive content about yourself or your business in your blogs and social media profiles. Get others to link to your content and write about you, as well. Pay to send out press releases through reputable online services such as PRWeb or eReleases. Work to earn valid media coverage. Make your site the destination site for your organization. Post videos to YouTube, which generates a lot of Google SEO “juice.”
- Use Google’s free online tool, Me on the Web, a part of Google Dashboard to help manage search results for your name.
- Consider subscribing to paid services such as Brand-Yourself and Vizibility.
Eventually, the undesirable item should begin to sink lower in the Google rankings for the search term, but it will not happen overnight. It must be an ongoing effort to sustain results. Search engine optimization is a fickle popularity contest that changes from one day to the next, and you have to stay on top of your game to stay on top of the results.