DIY Reputation Management: Five Tips for Business Owners

A guest post by Rich Gorman

There is a saying in online marketing circles, that a company’s online reputation is like its business card. In reality, though, that’s not really accurate — because in truth, online reputation is much more than that. It’s not just a company’s business card, but the very source of its credibility and authority. Your online reputation is what determines whether clients and colleagues will do business with you at all — or instead reject you in favor of your closest competition.

Think about it. In the Age of Google, a potential client can look up information about your business in a heartbeat. If that client only finds negative reviews and bad publicity, well, your brand is in trouble. It’s all too easy for the client to conduct another quick online search, and find one of your rival companies to do business with — a company with a cleaner online reputation.

If, however, a potential client Googles your company and finds only evidence that your business is sterling, trusted, and authoritative… well, then you’re good to go!

That’s what online reputation management is all about: Minimizing negative listings on the first few pages of search engine results, and ensuring that potential clients find only information that portrays your brand in a positive light — as a brand of choice among consumers.

A full-scale online reputation management campaign is something any company or brand should consider, but there are also some simpler, DIY tactics that any business owner can implement. Consider the following tips for protecting your reputation, and defending yourselves from online attacks on the Internet.

The first thing any small business owner should do is start regularly monitoring his or her online reputation. This can be as easy as regularly searching for your company’s name on Google, Yahoo, and Bing — but of course, setting up a Google alert is an even more effective method. Don’t just stop with search engines, though; you can also monitor what people are saying about your brand on social networks, simply through conducting Twitter searches.

Monitoring will let you know where you stand, and whether attacks have already been made against your brand. Your next step is to start playing some defense. Remember that there is nothing you can do to stop people from attacking you on the Web, per se — but you can make it so that consumers and online search users don’t ever see those online attacks. Your best bet is to build a strong, defensive wall of positive, brand-enhancing content — a wall to keep those negative attacks off the first page of Google.

A good defense means snatching up the best online real estate. Start with exact-match domain names — Your-company’s-name .com, .org, and .net. These are the pages that will likely rank the highest on Google, when someone searches for your company — and as such, you want to make sure your enemies and rival companies don’t have access to these pages! Even if you don’t plan to use all of these domains, you should buy them anyway. If you’ve got ’em, your enemies can’t use ’em.

Getting these domain names is important, but so is getting social media accounts — on Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest. Again, you may not plan to actively use all of these accounts, but signing up for them is still important.

After that, the next phase of the reputation defense campaign is building a strong, defensive wall. This is something you must do brick by brick — with each piece of content you write and publish being a brick in your defensive wall. The goal here is essentially to flood Google, Yahoo, and Bing with positive content about your company, effectively drowning out any negative listings or bad reviews. The more content you publish to these online domains and social media accounts, the better.

This is the most time-intensive part of the reputation defense process, but also the most important. It’s an ongoing job, too. Google rankings are based, to a degree, on “freshness” — so a Facebook account or a blog that has new posts every couple of days will be much more helpful to you than an account or blog that is only updated once every two months.

Here’s one final word of caution: Generally speaking, you’re going to want to resist the temptation to respond to negative reviews, on sites like Responding to negative feedback may make you feel better, but in the end, it’s only drawing more attention to these undesirable listings. Better to aim for suppression — achieved through the high volumes of content mentioned above!

Reputation management is not easy, and it does require some time and a commitment to writing good, compelling content on a regular basis. With that said, a strong online reputation is invaluable. There’s no way for a business to succeed without one. As such, investing in reputation management is something no company should fail to consider.

About the Author

Rich Gorman is involved with multiple companies and is an expert in reputation management. Additionally Rich operates the official blog for the Direct Response industry where he shares his thoughts on Direct Response Marketing.

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