Hiring professionals to monitor your online reputation, and what people are saying about you can be expensive, although in some cases, it may be well worth it. For those involved in political campaigns, or highly-competitive industries need to know in real-time what people are saying about them, so they can react swiftly and appropriately. However, if you're an individual or small business on a shoe-string budget, you can do a fairly good job of monitoring your own reputation using some free tools that are available to you online, and this week, we'll be discussing managing your "digital profile."
The easiest and best way I've found to monitor what is happening with my own name and the names of my blogs on other websites and blogs is Google Alerts. It's quick, easy to use, and becoming more and more comprehensive as Google's crawlers become more advanced. Here's how to set up your Google alerts.
You do not need to necessarily have a Google account to use Google alerts. Just go to Google.com/alerts, and you'll see a screen like this:
Fill in the fields, and the appropriate drop-down fields. I use the "as-it-happens" under the "how often" drop-down box for immediate results. I recommend enclosing your search terms in quotations, i.e.: "Jennifer Pointer." If you enter: Jennifer Pointer with out the quotations, you'll get all of the results for either name, and in my case I found out the hard way that there are A LOT of Jennifer's and Pointer's (nothing like getting hundreds of search results for German short-haired Pointer dogs to learn that lesson the hard way!). For more information on using good search terms, see Online Research - Search Tips.
You will need to respond to the confirmation e-mail sent to you by Google to activate the Google alert. If you are going to have more than one alert (you probably will, if you have a blog, and several variations of your name or blog name), you may want to go ahead and sign-up for a Google account so you can log in, and manage all of your alerts at one time.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.