“Ego search” is a phrase that was coined to describe the action of searching for your own name online. While the connotation of the term is of arrogance and self-importance, conducting an ego search is actually a vital component in many companies’ public relations SEO campaigns.

The CEO’s from companies of all sizes can benefit greatly from routinely searching both their name and their company’s name. New media is playing an increasingly important role in shaping the public’s perception of people and businesses. A recent study found that almost 80 percent of Internet sessions initiate with a search. In other words, search engines have, for many people, become a primary source of information.

In light of this information, public relations experts are now focusing much of their time on search engine optimization to maintain a positive image on the Web. The results on the first three pages of the search engine are the most important as users stay within those three pages 90 percent of the time. Therefore, companies must do everything they can to prevent inflammatory material about the CEO or company from ranking well.

A recent example of the importance an ego search carries arose when the CEO of a multinational company discovered that he shared the same name with a criminal charged with check fraud. In fact, the page detailing the criminal’s court case actually had a Google search engine ranking of number one for their shared name. Obviously, this posed a great threat to both his and the company’s public image.

To combat this potentially damaging correlation, web pages had to be created and optimized for the CEO’s name. Eventually, these optimized pages will help him climb to the top of the search engines and displace the criminal with whom he shares a name. Until then, browsers could confuse the CEO with the criminal and develop a negative perception of the company.

Multinational companies are not the only ones that are exposed to damaging material appearing on search engines. Small, locally owned businesses are feeling the effects of new media as well. According to recent estimates, about 25 percent of commercial searches are for local businesses.

One good example of this is online restaurant reviews. An increasing number of people are searching for online reviews of a restaurant before trying it out. The extent of the effect the reviews have on their decision is unclear, but one thing is for certain, no restaurant owner can benefit from negative reviews appearing atop the search engine.

Restaurants, and all businesses for that matter, should be aware of what is being said about them online. While no one can control all of the content that is being published, you can use public relations SEO tactics to combat these detrimental posts. An ego search should be on the daily checklist of anyone that is serious about achieving success.