There are a few commonsense ways to help protect your reputation online. Some companies offer such a service for a fee, but you can do a lot yourself to keep your reputation sterling.
The first step for anyone should be reviewing their own social media accounts. Embarrassing photos, status updates, or even the use of foul language can reflect negatively on a person looking for employment, promotion, or business partners. In certain situations, a photo or comment could even cost someone the job he already has. Everyone should be aware of what their social media accounts say about them, and take action to correct anything that could reflect negatively upon them.
The next step is to familiarize yourself with the various privacy policies of social media websites. These vary from one site to another, and while avoiding having embarrassing material show up online should be the top priority, it is also a good idea to be aware of who can see what sections of a person's pages. Adjusting settings to allow certain things only to be seen by certain people would be a wise step for those who don't want to revamp their pages completely.
The third and final step relating to social media is speaking with friends and family privately about appropriate uses for social media. Photos that may be funny with friends may not be so funny when current or potential employers see them. While avoiding cameras completely may not be possible, most people will respect a person's wishes not to be tagged in photos that they would not want business associates to see.
When protecting your online presence, you must also be aware of search engine results. A fourth step that people can take in this area is posting a lot of information that they don't mind having people see online. This could be anything from regularly updating a website or blog, posting on popular forums, or even writing product reviews under their own names on sites that place high in search engines, like Amazon and Ebay. It's not possible to avoid having people post negative information online, but it is possible in most cases to dominate the search engines so that such negative information shows up lower in results and is less likely to cause a problem.
A final step toward protecting your online presence is always respond to negative information that shows up high in search engine rankings. Most people will understand that nobody will have completely positive interactions with others, and some negative information will show up on just about anybody online. The best way to address this is to respond honestly to criticism, telling the other side of a story without insulting the original poster. Under the best scenarios, that person may even respond in a positive way. This approach will demonstrate that an individual is concerned with his reputation and his honor, and will go a long way toward mitigating the effects of negative information online.