Purple Shoes

When a prospective client searches for you online, will they find any ‘digital dirt?’  Online search results can be the first impression of your wedding business. Is your digital footprint hurting or helping you?

A digital footprint is a record of everything that you have ever clicked on, posted, commented on, uploaded or saved online. This can reveal a trail of ‘digital dirt’ from years ago that can be hard to erase.

How do you know what is out there about you? Search yourself!

Search for your name and business on all the major search engines including Google, Bing and Yahoo or try a site like Pipl to find out what information your clients may be seeing about you.

Here are a few tips:

•    For Google searches, make sure you are signed out of your account so that you don’t get personalized results. This will help you get the results potential clients may see.

•    Don’t forget to check images as well. Click on the ‘images’ tab at the top of the search results page to see what pictures are associated with your name.

•    If you have a name that is more common like ‘John Smith’ you may find that only a few of the results shown are about you.

•    Try typing in what prospective clients will search for when they look for you or your business. Sometimes this will be just your name, sometimes it’s both your name and business name or your name and your profession. For example, ‘John Smith, Florida wedding photographer.’

There are two types of ‘digital dirt’ to look for:

•    Self Created Content: Things that you have posted either on your pages or social media, which can be deleted or edited by you.

•    Content Posted by Others: Things that have been posted by others about you. If you want them removed, you’ll need to request it directly from the site.

What should you do if you don’t like what you find?  Follow these steps to manage your digital footprint:

Clean Up Your Online Records

1) Adjust your Facebook Privacy Settings and Activity Log

For some wedding professionals, Facebook can be tricky. If you have both personal friends and wedding clients or colleagues on your Friends list, you can create a Custom List to manage who sees certain posts. You’ll also want to clean up your Facebook Digital Footprint using the Activity Log.

2) Delete Self Created Content

This is the easiest content to get rid of since you posted it. Edit or delete any posts or comments you’ve made that don’t reflect well on your business. You may also want to check for unused social media accounts and delete those as well.

3) Request that Content Posted by Others be Removed

This is a bit trickier as it requires you to request that the poster or webmaster remove the content. Here are some resources:

•    Removing Content From Google
•    How to Contact a Site’s Webmaster

Manage Your Image

There are tools you can use to manage the information that is online about you as it happens. You’ll want to be proactive in creating content that puts you and your business in the best possible light.

1) Be on Alert

•    Set up a Google Alert for both your personal name and business name to receive notifications every time a new mention of your name shows up in the Google search results.

•    Sign up for Mention which allows you to monitor mentions of your name in real time on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter as well as online sites. The free version allows you to receive alerts for two keywords and up to 250 results per month.

2) Take Advantage of Free Online Profiles

•    The more online profiles and listings you have helps to populate the search results with content you control and push down older items.

•    Create a Google+ profile and fill out listings on wedding directory sites like the ones listed in 14 Websites to Get Free Marketing for your Wedding Business.

Think Before You Act

The easiest way to manage your online reputation is to not put anything potentially harmful to your business online. The types of things that can be turnoffs to potential clients include:

•    Controversial political and religious viewpoints
•    Unflattering or embarrassing photos
•    Harsh responses to negative reviews
•    Negative comments on blog posts

Does this mean you have to be perfect? No, and clients don’t expect you to be. But they do expect you to be professional. To make the most of your online presence be sure that the information and photos they will find online reflect well on your business and your reputation.

Do you think your digital footprint affects your wedding business?

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