Personal Name Collisions In Online Reputation Management
Updated: Jan 30
There is a rare situation where someone searches his or her name on Google to find results about another individual with the same name but who is a criminal or have a bad reputation online.
This individual is now mistakenly thought of as a bad person and the repercussions they suffer are life-changing indeed.
Just imagine a serial killer or a rapist that has the same first and last name as you. If a potential employer searches Google for your name, the results turn up content about a criminal. Do you think they will entertain the idea of hiring you? This situation is defined as Online Name Collision.
While most Online Reputation Management strategies focus on suppression of negative results and enforcing positive content about a brand or a person, Online Name Collisions require a different approach to handle. Not all name collisions are equal, some are negative, and some are neutral. Understanding the full picture of the situation is key to solving this problem.
With more and more people born everyday, there is a slight chance that anyone can share a similar name like yours. We call that person a doppelganger. The problem arises because the search engines can't distinguish who is who. To the search engines both you and the doppelganger are an exact match. Essentially you are merely a keyword phrase to Google. Addressing such a situation can be tricky and time consuming. Even if the doppelganger that turns up on search results when searching for your name is a notable person, your online identity will be diluted still.
Your evil name twin, will impact your reputation negatively and affect your professional and personal life and can be difficult to fix. Most people that search other people on search engines, and find negative content, will not confront or give them the chance to explain. They will simply walk away. First impressions last forever. Most people suffering from online name collisions don't have the know-how or the resources to solve the problem and stop the confusion.
How to solve Online Name Collisions?
The first step in understanding the magnitude of your online reputation doppelganger situation would be a thorough audit of search engine results pages (SERPS). You need to list the top 30-50 search results from the first 3-5 pages of Google SERPS. Once you have listed these results, it is time to carefully visit each result and label it according to it's impact on your online reputation. The labels would be something like:
The second step would be to define if each search result is about you or the doppelganger. Now you would have the following labels for each search result:
- Negative Personal
- Positive Personal
- Negative Doppelganger
- Positive Doppelganger
- Neutral Personal
- Neutral Doppelganger
To own the first page of Google for your personal name, and fix the name collision you would have to treat each one of the above categorized search results differently. Each person is unique, and therefore their online reputation is unique as well. In some scenarios, having a positive piece of content about your name twin could be a good thing if you have a bad online reputation.
There are many techniques involved in name collision resolution. Some of these techniques involve content suppression and others involve promoting content to rank higher.
The scope of this blog post is about defining the Online Name Collision predicament in online reputation management. Refer to other reputation management posts to understand what you can do to resolve your doppelganger situation.
Swiftly Labs Team