Protecting and correcting online reputations is the goal of a new industry that has big goals — and big challenges.

google bad New Info Service: Fixing Your Online Image

KYW’s John Ostapkovich reports that if you were checking out a company or individual using Google, and the first page of results were all critical, you might not go on to page two.

Changing that “first impression” is the aim of this new service industry.

You may have heard ads we’re running for “Reputation Defender,” which aims to make sure that online searches highlight the good about you or your firm, and lowlight the bad.

Moving the good stuff to the top of the search results is the goal, and it’s highly technical (and perhaps counter to Google policies), says Drexel University information science professor Carl Drott, but it may be important:

“To the extent that the number of businesses that rely very heavily on the Internet is growing, I think it is going to be a trend.  The real question, as always, is, are you getting value for your money in terms of hits? And that’s always very hard to measure.”

Drott says Google actively combats overt manipulation of its search results, but some legitimate buff-ups can have long-term value.

Can you do it yourself?  Maybe, says Drott, but it’s a lot of work requiring special knowledge.

(Graphic by KYW’s Ed Fischer)

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