For most people, the first thing they do before signing up for a company’s service or meeting potential business associates is an online search of the company. This shows the importance of a company’s online reputation. Your online brand is an essential part of your personal brand, thus protecting it means protecting your brand and securing a successful career or business.
Mostly, entrepreneurs are encouraged to launch out and fix challenges as they pop up, but that’s quite different when it comes to protecting your online brand. For your business’s online reputation, the “fix it later” approach can result in disaster. Hersh Davis-Nitzberg, founder and CEO of crisis management firm Reputation Control Inc., says that entrepreneurs need to be proactive about managing their online reputation before irreversible damage is done. In this article, we discuss 6 ways of protecting your online reputation:
1. Conduct regular google searches of your brand name
Looking up your brand on Google is the simplest step you can immediately take to safeguard your reputation. It is advised that searching your brand name on google is done once a month. Set up Google Alerts for important keywords so you know as soon as possible when new content about you hits the Web.
As your conduct the search, if any of the search results is damaging to your reputation, contact the site directly to have the content removed. While there’s no guarantee that a site will remove the content, you must try. If that doesn’t work, then you can look at creating new content that will be likely to rank high on Google search results.
Don’t simply look at the first page of Google results, advises Beal. Even though the vast majority of search engine users don’t go any further, you should always check pages two and three for negative content. Given how frequently search rankings change, that content could end up on page one overnight.
2. Be certain of your brand
The question mostly is about where to begin in nurturing a positive online reputation. Powerful brand building isn’t just about removing and suppressing harmful content — it is about aligning your overall online image with your authentic brand. Firstly, determine your goals. Take the time to visualize your ideal online reputation. What are you trying to communicate? Who is your target audience? When your intention is clear, you can successfully create content that supports your voice and highlights your success.
3. Optimize Your Site with Your Company Name.
Optimize several pages on your website using your company’s name advises Andy Beal, CEO of social media monitoring company Trackur. This is important because google will likely see your site as the ultimate authority on your company.
According to Beal, authoritativeness on a topic is one of many important signals the search engine considers when matching content to a search query and then ranking that content among other results. By properly optimizing more than one page for your company name, you’ll help keep those pages at or near the top of search results. Not only does this give your site greater visibility in search results, it may also help push down not-so-positive content about your company that you can’t control.
The best practice is to use your company name in important places such as the HTML title tag and URL (if possible), particularly on pages that describe your company, such as About Us or Contact Us.
Usually, some companies refer to themselves in the first person on their websites, “We create professional websites” instead of “Facio Tech creates professional websites.” Using the third-person voice is a better option, he adds, because it reinforces your company name to the search engines.
4. Diversify Your Web Presence.
Your goal should be to proactively own as many slots in the Google top 10 search results for keywords you care about says Don Sorenson, president of Big Blue Robot, which offers corporate online reputation management services. The importance are that it shows your company’s dominance in that topic, also, you’ll have a better chance of keeping negative content about your company or its products out of the top 10.
You’ll never be able to just get rid of negative stuff you can’t control but you can at least balance it with positive content you do control.
To achieve top 10 dominance, your Web presence should be spread out among your company’s site, related blogs, and social media networks such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook Fan pages, YouTube and Twitter. Google’s search engine technology views these social network sites as authoritative and trustworthy; both are important factors in how highly content on those sites is ranked.
5. Be proactive about your online reputation
“It’s easy to ignore your online reputation when everything is going well. But when a crisis strikes, suddenly the information about you on the internet can affect the reaction of the media, clients, and even your personal relationships.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be proactive. Be on top of your digital footprint before a crisis happens. A crisis situation can become a top story if you lack an online presence or have a negative reputation. However, if you have established an authentic, positive, and robust reputation, the same event can be a blip on the radar.
If something happens, take a step back and look at the big picture. There may not necessarily be a quick fix, but with a solid strategy, you can repair your brand. The biggest mistake you can make in a crisis is to respond without thinking. Quick reactions can turn a minor crisis into a disaster.”
6. Think twice before you post.
I always tell my clients, “What you share online stays online — forever…” Before hitting the “share” or “comment” buttons, ask yourself whether your action is aligned with your brand. As a rule of thumb, never post on social media when you’re angry, and regardless of your privacy settings, never publish negative comments about coworkers, business associates, or customers. To keep your brand strong, also always spell-check your comments and posts. Finally, keep in mind that what you post on the internet is your face to the world.
When all these are in place, you are sure to have a hold on managing your online reputation