If you don’t manage your online reputation for your business, someone else will do it for you. Whether you operate a tree-cutting business or an accounting firm, your online reputation could make or break your company. Building a strong customer base and asking for honest reviews is a start, but it’s not enough. Your online reputation relies on a variety of factors. You might be surprised at how much of your reputation is well within your control.
According to OutspokenMedia.com, your online reputation involves far more than reviews and search results. The perception floating around you could impact customers (this one is the most obvious) as well as journalists, stockholders, potential employers, coworkers, and even personal contacts. Knowing how to stay on top of your online reputation is the first step in making sure you put your best foot forward online.
Identify Negative-Reputation Problems
Entrepreneur.com suggests setting up Google Alerts–alerts sent to your email inbox whenever your search terms are mentioned on Google. This can help you identify who’s talking about your business, and whether or not you need to do anything about it. A quick Google search for your company’s name will let you know where you stand in the rankings, and whether the top results for your business are positive or negative.
A simple way to stay up-to-date on your online reputation is to invest in a service like Reputation.com. They monitor the amount of times your company name shows up in search results, discussions internet users are having about you and your business, and other related matters involving your personal and work-related information. Their Twitter page features plenty of advice that you can implement now to get a head start.
If an overactive reviewer has already slammed your business online, resulting in a negative result near the top of your company’s SEO results, your first order of business is trying to move that result further down the totem pole, but that’s not necessarily easy. PC World suggests harnessing all alternate suffixes for your business website (.net, .us, .org) as soon as possible to avoid spin-off sites that pull attention away from your company (or open it up to bashers). PC World also suggests registering your business on every social network. You don’t have to go crazy promoting your business daily, but having a profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr, and staying somewhat active on those sites, will cause your business to score higher in the rankings.
Keep Your Content Fresh
If your online presence is silent (or bordering on silent), search results will inevitably lead to what others have said about you, rather than to what you’re saying about yourself. This is where keeping your website up-to-date, consistently posting fresh content, and staying active on social networks will work wonders for your online reputation. Posting fresh material will go exponentially further than replying to negative comments and reviews on sites like Yelp. According to Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation, you should only respond to negative reviews if they got hard facts wrong. Otherwise, take a deep breath and give it time and consider brushing it off your shoulder.