Reputation Repair Services: 5 Things You Need to Know Before Using Them

reputation repair services can affect many areas of the internet

In a world in which 80% of companies Google job applicants before inviting them for interviews and 72% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from friends, your online reputation is important. That’s why so many people and businesses use reputation repair services.

Even if you’re not considering purchasing reputation repair services, you should think about how you look online. However, there are some important things you should know before paying someone to repair your reputation.

There is a lot of misconception and misinformation on all sides of this industry. For example, many people who need reputation repair services don’t hire them. There are also plenty of scams out there that take advantage of people who need reputation help.

We’ve been in the reputation repair service industry a while here at Reputation Enhancer. We’ve pooled our knowledge here to put together a few facts and a little advice for anyone seeking reputation repair services.

Before we dive into that, though, here’s a big question you need to answer:

Do You Need Reputation Repair Services?

If you’re reading this, you’re at the very least interested in hiring a reputation management service. However, you might not know 100% if you need help or not.

Deciding whether or not you need help from a reputation repair service is simple. You need to figure out two things:

  1. What you want people to see about you online
  2. What people actually see about you online.

If the difference between these two things is more than a very slight shift in details, you may need help. Here are a few specific steps to help you realize what you you want out there – and what is out there.

1. Think About the Image You Want and Need

The first thing you need to do is determine what kind of image you want to present to the world.

Obviously, it’s important to be realistic here. Don’t tell yourself you want people who Google you to think you’re a Nobel winner or rockstar.

However, ask yourself who you really are. If you’re a business owner, ask yourself what type of business you run, how you run it, what types of customers you want.

Ideally, you should strive for an honest representation of yourself and/or your business online. However, you also want one that looks good.

see yourself differently with reputation repair services

You don’t want to lie, and you need to remember to stay realistic, but in addition to thinking about what you are, think about what sells. If you’re a business owner, you know all about that. If you’re an individual, think of it this way: applying for a job is like working as your own salesperson.

Salespeople create an image, an image people want. To be your own salesperson, you need to think about what you can realistically make people perceive and want about you or your business.

This doesn’t mean making things up or being unrealistic. It means highlighting your good qualities and pushing your bad aside. In this way, it’s a lot like other everyday activities, such as dressing well or trying to improve yourself through learning or exercise.

2. Be Honest With Yourself About What Could Be Out There

Now that you’ve thought about your best self, it’s worth it to think about the other half.

This can be one of the most painful and difficult parts of the reputation assessment and reputation repair process. However, it’s also very important.

Be honest with yourself about what could be out there about you that you don’t want others to see. Common examples include:

  • Negative aspects of employment history
  • Bad reviews of your business (or your work at another person’s business)
  • Relationship problems like a messy divorce
  • Civil or criminal court cases (being sued or arrested)

None of these things make you a bad person. They don’t make you a bad business owner or employee. Some of them shouldn’t be judged negatively at all, and others are simply mistakes many people make.

However, when seen online, especially out of context, they can cause real trouble for you and/or your business.

avoid bad publicity with reputation enhancer

Write down anything from your past or present that you don’t want the world to know about. These are the things you’ll have to look for in the next step.

3. Google Yourself

This is where you find out everything there is to know about yourself online. Think of this as being a detective – investigating yourself.

Start simple. Just enter your name into Google and see what pops up. Take notes on what you see and think about how it lives up to your expectations.

Don’t just look at the first page. Go through 3-5 pages of Google results and look closely at everything you see. Think about how each item might look to a customer or potential employer.

After that, you can get a bit more advanced. Instead of just searching your name, try Googling your name and some specific search terms that might turn up results important to your reputation.

If you’re a business, search your business name and the word “reviews.” If you’ve had trouble with the law, look for your name and “arrest records” or “court records.” Be specific here. Reference your list from the previous step.

Check other search engines as well, such as Yahoo and Bing. You’d be surprised how different results from different search engines can be for the same terms. Although Google is the most popular, people use all different search engines.

4. Analyze the Differences

analyze before making a decision

Think about the person you want to be seen as again (or about how you want your business to be seen). Write a few characteristics or achievements down that you’d like others to see.

Compare this paper to the notes you made while Googling yourself. Are there major differences? If there are, you may be a candidate for reputation repair services.

A common misconception is that all reputation management companies do involves hiding bad information. This is a big part of our business, but so is creating positive information.

Even if there’s nothing “bad” about you online, you may still need help. Reputation repair services can boost your reputation online by highlighting your achievements and your personality. Remember, having no information about yourself online is almost as bad as having negative information.

5. Consider the Benefits of a Better Online Reputation

Reputation repair services can help you get the things you want and need. This is because reputation matters in our world.

Some benefits of having a better reputation for individuals include these and more:

  • Better employment options
  • Less awkwardness and worry in interpersonal relationships
  • Peace of mind

There are also plenty of benefits for businesses, such as the following:

  • More customers
  • Extra time to focus on building and growing your business – instead of worrying about its reputation
  • Increased opportunity to build and spread your brand.

Also, both businesses and individuals that improve their online reputations will earn greater credibility. If you want to be taken seriously, you must present yourself seriously first.

before and after professional reputation help

If you think you might be interested in hiring a reputation manager or working to fix your reputation yourself, read on for some important facts. Knowledge is everything in the reputation business.

The 5 Big Things You Need to Know Before Hiring Reputation Repair Services

1. Once the information is out there, it’s not coming down.

Yes, yes, it’s sad but true. Unless you can prove a company has used libel or slander against you – a complicated and expensive legal process – there’s no way to force them to take down something related to you.

In fact, most of the cases in which a company offers to take down a negative listing about you are scams. Many operate in this way:

  1. A fake news site, unscrupulous mug shot site, or something similar posts about you.
  2. A reputation site that secretly owns the other site contacts you or advertises to you.
  3. You pay the reputation site and they take down the post about you.
  4. They’re free to put it up and pressure you for money again any time.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t how most reputation sites work. However, it is a common fly-by-night scam.

beat scams with legit reputation repair services

A legitimate reputation repair service will never create negative content about you. Furthermore, they’ll never offer to “take down” any negative content. For that, you’ll need a lawyer and a lot of hard evidence you’ve been wronged.

However, there is a legitimate action reputation repair services can take to make bad content harder to find. This brings us to our second important fact of the day.

2. 75% of people won’t go beyond Page 1 of search engine results.

Does that sound crazy? Before you write me off, here’s a source confirming this fact. And here’s one more.

Also, you can think about it personally: when’s the last time you went past the first page of Google?

This is where people and businesses with reputation problems can pin all their hopes. It’s also the space where legitimate reputation repair services do their work.

Negative content on the internet related to you only causes problems if people see it. This means that pushing it off the first page of Google results – and better yet, even further down than the second page – can save your reputation big time.

reputation repair services can hide bad publicity

Image Credit: Huffington Post

This is what legitimate reputation repair services do. They practice a science called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.

By creating positive or neutral content that is “optimized” to appear in search engine results for searches related to your name, we and other legitimate reputation management companies can push the bad results down where no one will find them.

3. You need to check your reputation deeply and frequently.

Remember the long process described in the above section “Google Yourself”?

You need to search that deeply that frequently, especially if you know your reputation has been tarnished in the past. Doing so helps you for multiple reasons:

  • It helps you ensure that reputation repair services are doing their job.
  • It gives you advance notice of any new or reappearing negative information about you.

A legitimate reputation repair service will provide you progress reports regularly. However, there’s never any harm in checking on those reports.

Also, it’s good to continue monitoring your reputation after you’ve finished working with a reputation manager. Since the bad content is still out there, it can resurface. Being forewarned is being forearmed – if you know bad content is moving up, you can take care of it before others see it.

On top of all these advantages, searching yourself deeply and frequently online will bring you peace of mind.

Also, searching regularly can actually be easier than your first search. Thanks to useful tools like Google Alerts, you can automate your reputation monitoring process.

google alerts and reputation repair services

4. There are people out there who want to capitalize on your misery.

Basically, there are two types of bad reputation management companies: scams and big profit-hungry companies. Here’s a bit about why each of these is bad – and some advice on how to avoid them.

Reputation Repair Scams

I mentioned scams earlier, and linked to a Forbes article about problems in this industry. No one likes to admit it about the field they work in, but there are as many crooks in reputation management as in any other service field.

the bad guys of reputation repair services

That doesn’t say something bad about reputation repair services as a whole – but it does mean you should watch your back.

Assuming you’re a fairly internet savvy person, you know you can’t trust everyone out there. From fake news to massive fraud and dangerous predators, there are plenty of things online to look out for.

Because most reputation repair services operate online, there are plenty of these services to watch out for too.

Some of these scam sites look very professional. Some even are professional! In the Forbes article I linked to earlier, two major reputation management companies were mentioned (with names redacted).

Even the Better Business Bureau, a hugely well-respected consumer protection group, was recently embroiled in a huge scam scandal in which they gave an “A” rating to a nonexistent company named Hamas (after a group the United States government considers a terror organization).

Subpar Reputation Management Companies

In addition to scams, there are plenty of companies that won’t do a great job.

While these companies may not be doing anything illegal or unethical, false reputation repair services can still give you trouble.

Furthermore, in some cases, reputation managers’ prices are so high, their services may either be not worth it or totally unattainable for regular, everyday people – especially business owners or folks looking for a job.

subpar reputation repair services

With all these scams and profit-hungry corporations out there, it can feel very difficult to get the help you need. However, there are ways to tell the bad from the legitimate when it comes to reputation repair services. This brings us to our fifth and final tip.

5. Not all reputation repair services are created equal. You can ferret out the bad ones.

Whether you’re afraid of scams or just of not getting your money’s worth, you can beat bad reputation repair services with a few simple questions.

Once you’ve chosen a reputation repair service or two you might be interested in hiring, call or email them. Ask questions like the following:

  • What’s your usual success rate with your customers?
  • Do you offer any guarantees? Will I get my money back if you can’t fix my reputation?
  • What’s your specific plan for fixing my reputation?

A scam artist likely won’t be able to answer these questions at all. Subpar reputation repair services will offer unsatisfactory answers. It’s amazing how far simply asking the right questions can get you.

asking questions of reputation management companies

Why Money-Back Guarantees Are So Important

The question about guarantees may even knock out a few established, legitimate reputation repair services. However, a money-back guarantee is important.

Reputation management is always an inexact science. Even experts can’t claim a 100% success rate forever.

A money-back guarantee puts you in charge and keeps you safe. Even if a company tries its hardest and fails you, at least you won’t lose cash over it.

Something else a money-back guarantee does is give you control. The company you’re working with will have to agree to deliver specific results. Specificity is key when it comes to reputation repair – make sure you get what you’re paying for.

If you’re interested in talking to a team member here at Reputation Enhancer about how our business works, please give us a call or fill out the form below.

Even if you’re not sure about hiring a reputation manager yet, we will be happy to answer any questions. We offer free no-commitment, no-hassle consultations to anyone interested in learning about our reputation repair services.

Getting to know you and the problems you are facing will allow us to give you a detailed plan and price quote. Also, we can answer any questions you might have about the process. Learning is the first and most important step to success – in reputation repair and in the rest of life.

asking questions about your reputation online

Why Good Writing Matters to Your Online Reputation

why good writing matters to your online reputation

There are many factors that go into your online reputation. These range from customer reviews to the information you present about yourself and to many, many others. However, there is one very important factor that’s totally under your control. It’s one that a lot of reputation managers don’t consider, but it can make or break your online reputation.

What is this factor? The quality of your writing. Believe it or not, it can make the difference between becoming a huge success and stopping just short of failure.

Why Good Writing Matters to Your Online Reputation

Because many consumers consciously or unconsciously think that the quality and clarity of your writing reflect your intelligence and level of professionalism, it is extremely important to write well whenever creating content about yourself or your business online. If your writing is not strong, it may drive customers away or create a negative impression of you.

The first impression is often the most important one – sometimes the only one – you’ll get the opportunity to make. Good writing is a huge part of making a good first impression. Bad writing will make you appear unintelligent or careless. On the other hand, good writing will make you appear extremely intelligent, careful, and professional.

Think of some of the historical figures we most value, such as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both of these figures and many others like them were able to change the nation and the world the way they did based in large part on their writing, speaking, and rhetorical skills.

If you want to have an impact on the business world, you too must be an excellent writer and speaker.

How to Write Well

It’s impossible to teach how to write well in such a small space and time as we have here, but there are a few tips you should always keep in mind. These will help make your writing more effective, clear, and engaging no matter the circumstances.

  1. Know your audience. You need to keep your audience in mind whenever you’re writing. Are the people you expect to visit your site professionals or everyday people? Ask yourself questions like this to figure out whether you should use a more casual or formal tone.
  2. Be clear and concise. Some of the best writers in the world are sometimes guilty of saying a lot where a little will do. In the world of the internet, where information is readily available elsewhere and attention spans are short, this is unacceptable. Always edit your pieces to make sure they’re not taking up more space than they need to.
  3. Read aloud to become a better writer. When you’ve finished a blog post or a new page, read it out loud to yourself, a coworker, or a friend to get a feel of where the most awkward, poorly written sections are. This is a great way to catch mistakes. Plenty of professional writers use this method.
What to Do If You Just Can’t Write Well

Having trouble maintaining clarity or keeping your tone consistent? It’s nothing to be ashamed of – there are plenty of intelligent, hardworking people who don’t write well. However, your writing affects the way you’re perceived.

That means that if you just can’t write well, you may need to hire a professional writer or copyeditor to even things out a bit. This is easy to do, and can often make a big difference to your bottom line at minimal expense.

2 Tips for Managing Your Reputation Online

How to Keep Your Online Reputation

There are many good resources out there to give you tips on managing your online reputation. I’ve spent the day crawling the web looking for the most actionable tips for you to start using today, and I’ve come up with two of the best reputation management tips ever – for business reputation or individual reputation management online.

Best Online Reputation Management Tip No. 1 – Own the Sources of Information

Does “owning the sources of information” sound a bit difficult or a bit unethical? Read on for a moment so you can understand exactly what I mean.

You shouldn’t allow all the information – positive and negative – about your personal or business products or conduct to develop solely in public online forums. As great as platforms like Facebook and Yelp can be for your online reputation, they can also be bad because on these platforms you do not personally control the information.

To rectify this, you should have a clearly marked area of your site where customers can contact you directly or post publicly about your products or any other aspects of your personality or business.

Having this will allow you to respond promptly, to see at any time how your brand is doing, and to control how public postings appear. This amount of control will be beneficial for your brand.

However, when you do this, you should be sure to manage the flow of information ethically. It would be easy to totally suppress negative information on your own forums. This would ultimately have a negative effect though, because it would drive commenters to go to other, more public forums – whose information flow you do not control.

Do not suppress information; instead, simply manage it effectively so that the good side of your reputation is presented as well. Also, quickly respond to any negative content on your site or in your inbox.

Best Online Reputation Management Tip No. 2 – Invite Customers to Send Follow Ups

When you’ve fixed a customer’s problem, invite him or her to send a follow up.

For example, if you address a negative Yelp review and fix a problem, invite the writer to post another review. This new review would better reflect positive aspects of your company.

Follow up comments can greatly boost your online reputation for two reasons.

First, a positive review following a negative review will show that you have made a positive change on behalf of the customer. Other consumers will appreciate this positive change.

Second, a vocal customer can be the best type of customer for your business to court. While vocal customers complain more often and loudly, they can also be your greatest assets. Why? Because these customers will also give you the most effective and nuanced praise.

Remember, a reputation that takes decades to build can be threatened by a single event. You need to take proactive steps to managing your online reputation. This is true even before crises hit.

Positive Content: Should You Shoot for Quantity or Quality?

what helps you more with reputation management seo quality or quantity

It’s an age-old debate in the marketing world, especially the SEO marketing segment – should a company or individual create higher-quality content at a slower rate or more low-quality content quickly to make a bigger and more positive impact with potential customers?

When it comes to reputation management, the debate is much the same – should you be creating higher quality positive content related to yourself or your company online, or a high quantity of lower quality positive content, which you can produce much faster?

If you’re an absolute genius and have unlimited time on your hands, it is of course possible to generate a large quantity of very high quality content in a relatively short amount of time – but this hardly applies to anyone in the real world.

So we’re going to consider the issue and give you some advice here like you’re a regular person. This should also give you some insight into how our company works, though our large network and larger amounts of important resources make it easy for us to work much faster than the average individual or company PR department.

When I set out to write this article for you all, I certainly had some ideas about the subject in mind, and those have remained largely unchanged even as I’ve done extensive research. Two of the best articles I read were a Hubspot blog post by Ginny Mineo and a Moz article on quality vs. quantity, and though I had slightly different interpretations than the authors sometimes, I think we would all agree on essentially the same quality vs. quantity philosophy.

And that is that the answer is much more complicated than simply choosing to either produce quality content or a high quantity of content.

If you go wholly one way or the other, you’re likely to fail. The low quality, high quantity approach will probably do great things for you in the short term, but won’t have any lasting effects. The high quality, low quantity approach logically seems like it would play out better in the long term – but in reality it would bring so little traffic to your content to begin with that it would hardly have any impact at all.

Let’s take a closer look at how this would play out, thinking specifically of a reputation enhancement scenario.

We’ll say a staffer at XYZ Marketing sent out a controversial tweet that made the local news media, and that a lot of negative reviews of the company and decreased traffic happened as a result. XYZ tried to weather the storm, but soon found that a Google search of their company’s name revealed a full SERP of nothing but negativity related to them. They have to fix their image, right?

Let’s imagine two possible approaches they might take. In one, a few staffers at the company create blogs related to the company or optimized to show up in searches for the company, and a few more write press releases. They update all the blogs four or five times a day, but can’t really create high quality content.

If their SEO is good, they might win out in the short term, but they’ll likely lose the SERP to negative news again because their low quality content will not invite repeat viewership or generate links.

And if they go the other route and only produce the highest quality content possible, their output will be so low and traffic so sparse that they’ll likely never take the SERP back from negative news at all.

A middle of the road approach would obviously be best for this scenario – and this scenario is analogous to many faced by small companies and their marketers or reputation managers.

We’ll be back tomorrow with a detailed analysis of exactly what a middle of the road approach in the quality vs. quantity debate would actually look like for most companies, so be sure to drop by!

What Matters Most to Your Online Reputation

seo is what determines your online reputation

If I called you right now and asked you what matters most to your online reputation, you’d probably say something like this:

  • Quality
  • Trustworthiness
  • Reviews
  • A mistake
  • Bad luck
  • Someone else with a name similar to mine

No matter which one of these you’d say – or if you’d say anything else like one of these things – you’d be wrong.

When it comes to long-term professional and personal relationships, things like the quality of your work or your trustworthiness might be the single biggest factor – and in this face-to-face setting, a single mistake or stroke of bad luck might doom your reputation. But on the internet, that just isn’t the case.

What’s most important online isn’t any one of those things – it’s what others can see.

Although Google’s algorithm is always changing and there’s always new content on the internet, what individuals (such as potential customers and employers) can see when they type in your name doesn’t change too often – and it’s what they see that determines what they think of you.

The bad news is that, if you’re here, there’s probably already something out there you don’t want people to see. The good news is that it’s very easy to push that content out of the way and replace it with something of your choosing – and all thanks to the same search engines that dredged up the bad content in the first place!

One of the first things you should do as a step toward fixing and better managing your online reputation is set up a Google alert for your name or any other searches that are currently bringing up negative results related to you.

Being able to see what the search engines and their algorithms see means being able to see what others can see when they look for you – and knowing what’s out there is the first step to changing it.

When you can turn all of the negative content on the first page of a Google search for your name into positive content, you’ll know you’re much, much closer to having a truly spotless online reputation. Because it’s a proven fact – 75% of internet users don’t go past the first search engine results page.

Fixing the content that appears on that first page is a hard job – and it’s one that many individuals and businesses choose to hire outside helpers, such as our own company, for. However, whether you take our help or go it alone, the first step is knowing what really matters – and what really matters to your reputation is what the world can see.

Why It’s So Hard to Get Rid of Negative News Articles on Google (and How to Do It Better)

why reputation wrecking news ranks high on googleIf you’ve ever Googled yourself to check on your online reputation, or even searched with another engine like Yahoo! or Bing, you may have noticed something – those pesky negatives articles from news sources (even tiny unreliable sources like a badly managed small town newspaper) seem to stick in the same place on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) no matter what.

Why? The answer is simple, and once you understand the problem you’ll have a better idea what you can do about it.

Google and the other major search engines exist for one reason: to bring their users the content they want as fast as possible. I’m sure you know by now that each of these search engines has a complex algorithm to determine what pieces of web content are relevant to a user’s search, but there may be some things about those algorithms you don’t yet know.

To get so many results to users so quickly, each major search engine’s algorithm has a couple shortcuts built in. These shortcuts are designed to put the content Google and other search engine users want the most at the front of the pile, faster than a speeding bullet.

What kinds of information and other content does Google prioritize? Often things such as Wikipedia, major social media sites, and news take up the top half of a Google SERP for a person or business name. But why is this?

First it’s important to note that the traffic on all of those sites is extremely high. Even small, local news sites get huge amounts of traffic compared to businesses or blogs based in the same areas.

Secondly, it’s by design. According to this great list of techniques to rank higher on Google, sites like those run by news organizations almost automatically hit all of the right buttons when it comes to search engines.

In addition to high traffic, they boast a high volume of relatively meaningful and relevant content, and also usually have a ton of internal and external links boosting their page ranking.

All of this taken together could explain why some bad news regarding you or your business is still haunting you, sometimes even years later. But what’s more important than understanding why this problem exists is understanding how to beat it.

Remember this: news is time-sensitive. However, because Google may not have any new news articles on you or your business in its index, those old articles will keep showing up. The solution to this problem is simple, though it’s often hard to implement: you have to create new news that shows you and your business in a more positive or at least neutral light to push those old negative articles to the back pages where they belong.

This is actually one of the main techniques our staff uses to improve our clients’ reputations so quickly: by crafting professional, well-written press releases that we send to our various contacts in the news industry.

Getting yourself in the news for a good thing is never easy – especially considering how much people love to read bad news – but it can be one of the best investments you make in terms of your internet reputation.

How to Boost Your Online Reputation through Transparency

Fixing your online reputation and maintaining it with transparency - not just a catchword

Fix and maintain your online reputation with
TRANSPARENCY.

The staff writers at Kiss Metrics have produced a great guide to fixing your online reputation and managing your online reputation once it is fixed. Their ideas have been one of many big inspirations for our work and our blog, especially their Ten Commandments of Online Reputation Management (in the article linked to above).

One of those Ten Commandments is “Be Radically Transparent.” In order to give you a better idea of what that means and how to do it, we’re going to devote today’s post to transparency in business.

What is business transparency?

Transparency in this context essentially means “complete honesty.” It’s called transparency because it allows customers to see what is going on inside your business.

If your business has made some mistakes in the past, you want to face and fix them, instead of pretending that your customers don’t know about them. This means responding to negative reviews without being defensive or angry and truly addressing issues that customers bring up.

How does that help? Won’t it just make my business’ problems more public?

There’s some tricky psychology involved here, but look at it this way: if a potential customer sees a lot of negative reviews on your Facebook or Yelp page, and you haven’t responded to them or made any statement about addressing them, the viewer sees a business that ignores its customers. And if there’s anything you don’t want to be seen as online, that’s it.

This doesn’t mean that you should share all your one-star reviews on your Facebook page. However, if someone posts a negative review in a public forum (such as on Yelp or a social network), respond to it promptly and let them know how you will address the problem. If someone messages you privately to complain, engage with them instead of ignoring them, and see what you can do to help them out.

Often, these tactics can turn a one-star review and a customer who swears he’ll never do business with you again into a five-star review and continued loyalty – possibly for years to come.

But can I really respond to all complaints? Some of them just seem unfair.

Of course, there are customers that either overreact to problems or are simply mean-spirited individuals. When you have complaints like this bringing your online reputation crashing down, its time to hire an experienced marketer and/or take legal action.

However, before you write off a bad review or negative comment as hateful or without reason, step back and ask yourself if there’s anything legitimate in it. Often, there is a problem you can fix – and even if it won’t bring one customer back, it could bring more in the future – people who see you facing your problems like an honorable business owner and doing your best to fix them.

How to Use Google’s New Semantic Search to Better Your Online Reputation

understand semantic search to improve your reputation online

The buzz over at the popular Moz SEO Blog this week is all about Google’s “semantic search” feature and how it’s changing search results and SEO – and as Google is the industry leader, the changes are sure to spread to other search engines in the near future too.

If your online reputation isn’t as spotless as you’d like it right now, Google’s use of more semantic search techniques in its engine’s algorithm could be the big change you need to fix it – if you know how to work this new system to your advantage.

Sounds great… but what the heck does semantic search mean, anyway?

The Moz article is a great in-depth explanation, but here are the basics: Google’s new incorporation of semantic search techniques into its algorithm means that it will not focus only on the words typed into the search box when looking for results, but at context.

This context includes search term synonyms, the way the search is phrased (is it a question, for example, or only a search for a particular term?), and the matching of concepts. All these factors and more will become more important to Google’s search feature over the course of 2017 and beyond, as Google and its competitors seek to make search engines function in a more intuitive, conversational manner.

They believe this will also undermine the efforts of shadier SEO techniques like keyword spamming.

How can I put this to work for me, though?

Most of the time, your reputation is damaged because of something that happened in the past. If there are negative articles or reviews of your work filling the first page on Google, that could change – because articles that were relevant to the old, more keyword-based search functions may not be as relevant to the new semantic search as newer content.

This means that your reputation can be changed for the better and then preserved through the creation of content that meets new semantic search criteria. That means that your blogs, articles written by or about you, and other web content related to you should be crafted in such a way that it doesn’t just rank highly on Google because of keywords, but because of an actual, nuanced value and relevance to searches involving your name.

This new search will also probably place more emphasis than ever on high-traffic sites like LinkedIn, WordPress, and social media outlets – meaning that you should always keep your profiles on these services fully updated and fully professional.

Anything else I need to know?

Google is also changing the way search results are presented, especially search results for people. The newer format is detailed in the Moz article, and you can see another example of it by quickly Googling a colleague or a favorite actor.

Look at the types of information that are prioritized: news, biography, social media, pictures, associates, personal info – anything anyone could ever want to know about a person, all neatly arranged on the first page.

The bad news here is that anything negatively impacting your reputation now is probably even easier to find – the good news is that you can quickly fix it.

Because there’s so much about a person on page 1 now, and the focus is always on more recent material, it should be easier than ever for you or a professional reputation enhancer to clean up. If your associates are part of a bad reputation, form new links online. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or it isn’t up to date, get that fixed straightaway, as sites like LinkedIn are often prioritized for professionals in the new results page format.