Simple Reputation Management Tips for Your Small Business
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.
Tradespeople, working professionals, small business owners and even medium-sized companies all need to attract new customers. More often than not, prospects check out your company on the Web before they even dream of setting foot in your office or store.
For that reason, projecting a positive image online, and keeping falsehoods and malcontents from damaging your reputation, is essential.
It was in response to this growing need that the reputation management industry first arose. Businesses simply cannot afford to let their online reputation go unchecked and unprotected.
That’s not to say that every business or working professional needs to enlist the services of a professional reputation management firm, however. For many companies, it might be more prudent to enact some basic, DIY reputation defense tips.
But what does reputation management truly look like on this smaller-scale, DIY level?
It All Starts with Monitoring
It’s impossible to defend yourself from online attacks if you don’t know that attacks are being made! That’s why a good reputation defense strategy begins with careful online monitoring. Knowing what people are saying about your brand on the Internet is the essential first step toward effective reputation defense.
You can monitor your own online reputation by searching for yourself on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, and also by setting up regular Google alerts. Search social networks such as Twitter and Facebook as well – not only for your name, or the name of your brand, but also other relevant keywords — for example, your company’s name with the word “reviews” or “complaints.”
Content is King
Members of the search community – SEO and online reputation management professionals alike — are fond of saying that content is king. That’s certainly true when it comes to defending your reputation on the Internet. Once the monitoring phase is complete, the single most effective thing you can do is to start publishing positive content about yourself or your company.
Think of it this way. There’s really nothing you can do to remove online listings from Google, Yahoo, or Bing. If somebody attacks you, or leaves a negative review about your company, you cannot delete it, or remove it from the search engine. What you must do, then, is suppress these undesirable listings – essentially burying them under a mountain of positive content.
So write some good, strong, compelling copy about your company, your products, or even your industry as a whole. Post that content to your business blog, as well as to Facebook and Twitter. Every piece of positive content you publish is a brick in your defensive wall – so content development should be a regular, ongoing process.
Another relatively easy and affordable tactic is to buy up all the exact-match domain names you can think of. What’s an exact-match domain? Well, if your company is called Steel Enterprises, the domains you’ll want to get are SteelEnterprises.com, SteelEnterprises.net, SteelEnterprises.org, and so on.
You might also try to throw in some geographic variants; SteelEnterprisesNC.com is an example, or SteelEnterprisesChicago.net, depending on where your business is actually located!
You may not plan to post content to all of these pages, and that’s okay. The important thing is that you’re snatching up the best pieces of online real estate before your rivals, or disgruntled employees, can access them.
These exact-match domains are the ones that will rank the best on Google, when someone searches for your company’s name. Wouldn’t you rather make sure that you own them, instead of leaving them up for grabs?
About Online Reviews
Once you’ve set up some regular search engine alerts, snatched up some quality domain names, and started posting to the Web and to your social media accounts, you’re definitely on the right track. Together, these actions represent a truly effective reputation defense strategy.
A word might be said about online reviews, however. Some business owners think it’s prudent to respond to negative reviews and complaints as they are posted, particularly on highly-visible sites like Yelp.com.
In reality, this is almost never a good idea. Responding to these reviews only draws attention to them, when what you really want to do is suppress them, ensuring they are seen by as few people as possible.
That’s why producing all that content is important. Your best defense, with regard to bad reviews, is simply drowning them out, pushing them off the first page of Google with your own positive, brand-enhancing content!
How do you protect your online reputation? Let us know in the comments section below.