You may never think it’s a big deal until you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or something you simply can’t foresee winds up in a place that anyone in the world can easily see — on the internet.

The internet can be a merciless place and watching a negative link tethered to your name creep up from Page 10 to Page 3, and then Page 2 can be nerve-racking.

Let’s say you’re applying for new a new job and you’ve got resumes out all over the country. Now you have that many potential bosses, supervisors or hiring managers out there seeing this negative piece of personal information about you.  This could in turn impact your livelihood, your ability to provide for your children, and your mental well-being.

The impact a single negative link can have should never be underestimated.

The reality is that proactive online reputation management (ORM) can mean the difference between a positive public relations presence for your name on the internet and a poor one.  Proactive online reputation management can also make you more prepared if and when a negative link about you suddenly appears on your Google search results.

Understanding the relative value of ranking positions on Google is part and parcel with proactive online reputation management.  More specifically, it’s important to know just how much more powerful the first page of Google is compared to the second page.  A similar comparison: it’s important to know just how powerful the top half of Google’s first page is compared to the bottom half.

According to a 2013 study carried out by the online ad network, Chikita, no placement of a URL on Google matters more than the first Google result position on the first page. That one position alone — at the time the study was done — garnered 33 percent of all search traffic, according to the study.

Now imagine that top Google position is a link to a web page that speaks negatively about you.

Every time a new hiring manager for a job you are vying for Googles your name and sees that negative link right near or at the top — the one you don’t want others to see — odds are that’s the one people will click on. They are, after all, trying to learn about you.

The same study found the last position on the first page — or the 10th ranking link — got just 2.4 percent of the traffic. So, roughly 97 percent of the people Googling you don’t even make it to the bottom of the page to click through that link.

What if your best information that promotes you is on Page 2 of a Google search?

Unfortunately, those links are in no-man’s land. The first position at the top of Page 2 — or the 11th ranking link — got 1 percent of the clicks on searches.

Although there may be great information about you or your business on the second page, it’s rarely going to be consumed or noticed. Everything after that 11th Google ranking placement drops below the 1 percent mark for users clicking on that link.

In the end, reinforcing just how significant Google’s top results are – and just how many people click these results – reiterates the value of proactive online reputation management.  It also emphasizes that working to improve your online search results and make them as positive as possible is worth the time and energy and carries with it a significant return on investment for you or your business.

Matt Earle

Founder & President

Matt Earle, Founder of Reputation.ca, is a leading Canadian expert on online reputation management with over 15 years of hands on experience working in the space. Mr. Earle’s educational background includes an H.BSc from the University of Toronto and certification as a Google Professional. His expertise has been acknowledged through national television appearances on CBC, PBS and CTV, being a guest host on CBC radio, and numerous quotes in print and online media.