I recently Googled the name of a friend of mine in order to find her mailing address. The very first result for her name was a picture of her mug shot on www.mugshotsonline.com from a DUI she was charged with a little over a year ago. Because I know her, I know that the charges were later dropped before the case ever went to court, but her mug shot is still out there for the world to see. It doesn’t have to be a mug shot that your next former potential client saw. It could be a negative review on a real estate website on the vast worldwide web. So, how does one prevent this from happening?
Well, here are some ideas.
- Create a Google Alert for your name – Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results of the web, news, blogs, etc. based on search queries that you establish. This helps to inform you anytime you have a negative review posted online or anything else that you don’t want the world to see. If you know of something negative that has been posted online, then you have the opportunity to react to it. If you never know the negative information is out there for the world to see, then you may lose business because there is a fair chance your clients have seen it.
- Be proactive and preemptive – Have your satisfied clients post online reviews for you starting today. With the invention of laptops, smart phones, and tablets, this has never been easier. You can ask your smiling, happy clients to do this after you close on their new or current home. Some agents dread asking a client to post a review, but the truth is most clients are more than happy to help you because you’ve just helped them. Ask them immediately before you go into the closing and be sure to follow up with them after the closing to make sure they complete the review for you. If you have 200 awesome reviews on the internet and 1 or 2 bad ones, then those bad ones will have much less of a negative effect on any future prospects’ preconceptions of you.
- Be everywhere – Ok, if you don’t already have your own personal website, then shame on you! Go get one now or call me and I’ll be happy to build one for you. If you do have a personal website, then you need to be sure that website is the first result of a Google search for your name (in your town or state). If it is not, then you need to be getting serious about your search engine optimization. Once you’ve gotten your website in the number one position, then you need to get very active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, etc, etc. The more you control the way you are presented online, the less affected you will be by negative reviews or news. The fact is if those negative things are buried below a sea of positives then you may as well consider those negative things nonexistent.
If you’ve been in this crazy real estate game long enough, then you have at least one unsatisfied client out there. I know you are shocked and amazed to hear this, but even I have one. Yep, the client that I refused to help commit fraud during a transaction was unhappy with me. She didn’t post anything negative online about me, but she could have. If she had, I was ready for her. Soon after the negative review posted, Google Alerts would have told me my name was mentioned online, and I would have read her post. From that point, I would have searched Google to see that her negative review was result number 1,423 in Google because I’ve worked very hard on numbers 2 and 3 above.
If you have some suggestions on ways you can manage your reputation online, then please feel free to leave those below.