They say once something is on the internet its there forever. For businesses, one angry customer’s rant can find eternal life on the web. One bad review, in the wrong place can spread doubt among potential customers. One minor scandal can become a widely misconstrued mess. Whether you’re a company or an individual, we all have to be concerned with what story the web will tell of us. Whether you have some negativity floating around or a lack of a reputation in general there a few simple things that can help rectify the situation.
Claim Your Name
When we talk about online reputation, it’s a very broad term that pretty simply relates to any online mentions of your business, or names associated with your business. These can be it the form of reviews, blog posts, even Tweets or status updates. Any internet citation relating to you helps comprise your online reputation.
The first step to improving, or even launching an internet reputation is to claim your name on social media sites. Whether it’s a personal brand or a company, signing up for social profiles is a simple and highly effective way to own the search engine results for your name. There are the most popular networks, like Twitter and Facebook, but there are several other social media sites that can help you create a more powerful online presence. Sites like Knowem.com can help you find a number of different options, particularly for niche networks in your space. Free social profiles are a practical, and not too time intensive way to create neutral results for your name. But in all cases, the more you use these accounts to form relationships and connections the more beneficial they will be.
Lots of businesses ask people to take surveys and fill out questionnaires about their experiences and satisfaction. But whether it’s positive or negative, most of the time the information stays inside the company. But how often do we encourage people to go public with their opinions? Not all that often. And largely because we are afraid of what they might say, But here’s the thing, unhappy people will take to the streets with their anger whether we ask them to or not. And since it’s not 1863 by “streets” I mean the internet. With Social media sites like Twitter and review sites in every industry, the web is ready and waiting to be the world’s complaint box.
So why not use that to our advantage? If you are a business with a physical location, you’ve noticed that Google local is incorporating more and more reviews into their search results. That’s going to happen whether you want it to or not so being proactive about the situation s just plain smart. Find out which review sites dominate the results in your industry and then encourage your customers to leave their feedback there. You may get some negative comments sure, but if you’re doing your job right you stand a good chance of increasing your positive citations as well. If you really want to go big, connect with individual bloggers inviting them to do entire posts reviewing you or your business. Not only is it good for reputation management it also helps with the next method.
Ah link building, generally speaking it’s something people do to increase search engine rankings. It is an extremely effective way to do that, sure, but once you get past the surface, link building the right way can help with your rep as well. Like the example I mentioned earlier developing relationships with bloggers is a good idea for anyone. They can give links, offer reviews, and promote specials or contests. But it all starts with making contact and establishing a relationship. If you love what you do, engaging in the online community related to it shouldn’t be a burden. Relationships also work best when you’re not just using people. The more you care, and begin to think of building links in terms of building allies, not only do you reap search engine benefits, you increase the number of people willing to talk about you online, an in turn your reputation. Even in a very logistical way, when you build links, particularly links with text around them, you can create more online instances of your name, leaving more occurrences for search engines to pick up and deliver in queries involving your brand.
If you’ve never given a thought to your online reputation, now is as good a time as any. It’s never too late to start using simple, but effective strategies for increasing the presence of your name online. Whether you are trying to oust negative results from the top 10 results for your name, or you want to push unrelated results deeper into the SERPs it takes action on your part. Certainly you can wait and hope that others will do the favor for you, but that’s a huge gamble. As a business, it should be a priority to drive the fate of your reputation in real life and on the web.