What Google Doesn’t Tell You About Online Reputation Management


  • Google’s guide for online reputation management is overly simple (just three steps) and makes it sound like controlling what is written online about you is an easy process.
  • In reality, managing your reputation on search engines is time-consuming and labor-intensive, with constant monitoring and publication of quality content.
  • SEO and online reputation management are closely interlinked, as the better your SEO strategy, the more relevant results you want to see will be displayed on Google’s first page.

Google’s documentation for online reputation management outlines three simple steps.

  • Search for yourself
  • Create a Google account
  • Remove unwanted content and the associated search results

Sounds easy, right? But it’s not. 

Online reputation management is much more complex. Getting Google to remove content is extremely challenging, as very little negative information about a person or company violates Google’s terms of use.

That bad review from a disgruntled customer? Probably not going away anytime soon. The news article outlining all the ways your company could be better? Could remain in search results for your company name for many years to come.

Instead of removing unwanted content, a smarter reputation management strategy is to convince Google that other (read: more positive) information about your company is more relevant, thereby pushing down the results of the unwanted content.

Netflix SERP

How can I check my online reputation?

Google’s first step for managing the online content about you is smart. Research what is already ranking high by searching the following:

  • Your company name
  • Your product name
  • The names of top executives
  • Any other relevant terms 

You will likely also see reviews about your company on Google and various third-party review websites. Take some time to log the content that is out there. 

However, this will only provide a snapshot of your current online reputation. For long-term oversight and management of your online reputation, do this:

  1. Monitor review sites
  2. Sign up for a free account at TalkWalker
  3. Check your social media sites regularly. Use social media listening software to save time.
  4. Review mentions of you and/or your company on other social media sites
  5. Watch the reputation of your key partners/vendors because their reputation could impact your reputation
  6. Survey your customers to look for improvement areas

How can I clean up my reputation on Google?

Once you have a better understanding of what information is on Google, you’re ready to start transforming that reputation.

If Google images have information improperly associated with you, track down the owners and try to set the record straight. Request that Google removes any inappropriate photos that violate the terms of use.  For a better understanding of how to remove content from Google, read this post

Delete old social media profiles and information that you no longer use, and remove any old posts that don’t portray your organization in a way you’d like. For individuals, you might want to remove “friends” on social networks that post unflattering photos and comments about you. 

Lock down your page so only your (true) friends can tag you in posts and view your content. You can lock down your accounts so well that no one can tag you without your permission.

Now comes the most challenging aspect of online reputation management. You need to replace the old content with new, more flattering content that not only represents who you are today but content that performs well in search results as well. This part of the process is intensive and time-consuming to do right.

Most people need to engage in a variety of activities to improve their Google online reputation. These activities include the following. 

Regularly infusing the internet with new information about your company helps you manage your online narrative and ensure search engines see great content from you.

There’s more to reputation management than Google

Google has become synonymous with reputation management. One of the first steps in most reputation management campaigns is to improve Google search results. If you are looking to improve your business’s online reputation and the only thing you choose to do is rely on Google, you are jeopardizing your success. While managing your reputation on Google is necessary and recommended, there are times when it falls short. 

A Google search for an individual is still a powerful tool, one that is often manipulated. Google is not only a tool for keyword research, but it is also a place where potential customers and business partners can:

  • Leave reviews of your company
  • Review your competitors
  • Find information about you

Will you be proactive in the way you manage your online reputation by optimizing your website to appear in search results? Or will you be reactive and wait for someone else to write about your business? ​

Understanding Google’s shortcomings in reputation management are key to using the platform to improve your reputation. Here are three important factors to remember when working on your Google search results to improve your online reputation. 

  • Google oversimplifies reputation management: Google does have a help page on reputation management, but it is vastly oversimplified. There isn’t much information on managing a corporate reputation, and any support offered is strictly geared towards removing personal information.
  • Most content doesn’t violate terms of service: While Google’s policy does allow for the removal of unwanted content from it search results, very few things actually warrant removal. Examples of things you can remove from Google search results include sexually explicit images, financial and medical information, and contact information.
  • Removing something from search results doesn’t delete it completely: Deleting something from Google search results will greatly decrease its visibility, but it doesn’t remove it from the Internet completely. People can still find the content in other search engines or by clicking links from other web pages. 

How SEO and online reputation management are connected

Search engines are how today’s consumers collect information. Whether learning about a company to prepare for investments or researching the quality of a product before purchasing, search engines are now an essential tool in people’s lives.

As such, consumers trust the information, they see there. Before search engines grew in popularity, word of mouth was the most powerful force. And the best way to control that was to create a great customer experience.

But even companies with a great customer experience can run into issues thanks to the internet. People can make unsubstantiated claims on social media, review sites, blogs, and forums. It has gotten harder for consumers to differentiate between news websites and casual blogs that don’t undergo as rigorous a review process as news stories.

The result is that consumers will likely trust the top results about your business on Google. If you aren’t commanding that space through SEO reputation management with great content and managing the narrative, you are losing a massive opportunity to influence how customers view you.

The higher a search result about your company appears on Google’s results pages, the more likely people will read it. According to Smart Insights, the top-ranking result receives 34.2 percent of click-throughs. That number halves for the second result at 17.1 percent of click-throughs.

Google CTR

Google’s online reputation management documentation doesn’t mention anything about how to manage these results. Yet, managing your search results is a crucial aspect of overseeing and optimizing what people see about you when performing a search. 

Why creating a Google account isn’t enough

According to Google’s documentation on managing your online reputation, creating a Google account should help you manage it. While this activity enables you to claim your Google My Business listing and update any incorrect information, it doesn’t mean you can remove unwanted content with ease.

Just creating a Google account also doesn’t supply your online reputation team with alerts anytime someone mentions your name. That process is still exceedingly manual, can be aided to a small degree with online monitoring tools, and means watching online and social mentions carefully.

That’s certainly not to say you shouldn’t create a Google account—you should. But simply creating the account will not tell you the health of your online reputation. You need to continually monitor your online mentions and develop substantial amounts of high-quality, positive content.

One great aspect of creating a Google account is that you can respond to Google reviews. According to BrightLocal, 78 percent of consumers care whether a business responds to reviews. 

BrightLocal Survey


Using Google to enhance your online reputation management is an ongoing activity that is both time-consuming and labor-intensive. To do it well, you will need to go above and beyond Google’s guidelines for online reputation management while infusing search results with great content.

Google online reputation management FAQs

How do I clean up my reputation on Google? 

You will need to go through several steps to manage your online reputation on Google. These steps include:

  1. Researching to find what information and content are available about you online.
  2. Requesting that content owners remove incorrect information about you.
  3. Clean up your social media accounts to only include flattering information.
  4. Regularly publish good content for Google to find to push down the unflattering information.
  5. Monitor your Google results regularly and repeat the process as necessary to keep a clean reputation.

Is it bad to Google yourself?

No, it is not bad to Google yourself. In fact, it’s a good idea to know what information about you is online so that you can work to manage this content. The same is true for marketing managers or PR teams who oversee a company’s reputation. You should regularly search for your company, top executives, and customer- or community-facing employees to protect your company’s online reputation.

Can you tell who Googled your name?

No, you cannot see who searched your name on Google. All you can control is developing and publishing good content related to your name or your company name to manage the content that shows up when people perform searches on Google. The higher quality the content is, and the more content you publish, the more likely it is to show up in top search results.

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