You’re working hard to make sure your customers find you online. Naturally, you want them to find positive and helpful info. For a new business, managing your online reputation may be as simple as monitoring Google Alerts for mentions of your name.
For business with problematic pasts such as legal trouble or negative reviews, it may take more concerted and focused efforts.
Here are six key things to do to get you started on managing your online reputation.
1. Search Yourself.
First, see what’s already out there. Search for your name and business name and look in all results, including images and news.
2. Use Google Alerts
Set up a Google Alert. Simply enter in a search term and receiving email notifications on Google’s easy-to-set-up Alert page (https://www.google.com/alerts). Also, monitor your competitors.
3. Buy Your Domain Name.
Even if you plan to just have a Facebook page, consider purchasing dot coms that relate to your business name so that no one else can take them. Add placeholder text directing people to the online sites you prefer. Avoid letting others take the domains that are closely related to your business.
Also, consider purchasing your personal name, such as JohnSmith.com. This will be easier if you have a less-common name than John Smith. This ensures your control over the content on the site and not someone else, even if it’s not necessarily negative.
4. Join Social Networks
You probably don’t have time to be active on every single social site. Unless you’re hiring someone to take care of this task, you probably don’t. Join the major sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+ and stake your claim to your personal and business names.
Social content is an increasingly large part of search results. Ensure that other people can’t get control of these channels and use them in their own way. This will help you put your desired results out there first. And, the platforms will already be in place if you decide you want to use them at a later date.
5. Monitor Your Own Activity.
Never assume that something you place online is private. Even if you have your settings set to show something only to your closest friends, screenshots might never disappear. Don’t share anything online that you’re not comfortable with the world seeing. Note what content you are “tagged in,” such as on Facebook, and remove the tags if it is content you are not completely comfortable with.
6. Build Your Brand.
The best way to make sure that there is positive, flattering content online about you and your business is to create it yourself and put it out there. Become well-respected due to your honest engagement and transparent business practices. Regularly create branded content, whether it’s blog posts or videos, and post them. Monitor the activity you get and respond if necessary, with politeness. Treat every online interaction with the same respect as if you were handing out your business card in person, because in reality, that’s pretty much what you’re doing.
Don’t ignore your reputation
Managing your online reputation takes some activity on your part. All of these things help keep you informed about what people are saying about you as well as your competitors. The worst mistake you can do is either ignore your reputation or not do anything to manage it. Keep yourself in the game by being proactive on what’s out there about your brand.