How to Manage Your Business’s Online Reputation

Everyone has a bad experience with a company from time to time. But what if that company is your business and that customer just won’t stop blabbing about it all over the internet? When an unhappy customer — or, in some cases, an unethical competitor — starts badmouthing your operation online, you’ll need to take action fast or risk seeing your profits drop. Here’s how to make sure your business’s Google results are always glowing.

Create an SEO-optimized website. Your website should always be the first result when someone searches for your company’s name. If possible, secure the business’s name as your domain name and include the name, city, state, and other relevant keywords in your web copy and metatags. Work to build backlinks from other reputable sites, which will help your site climb higher in the search rankings. Check out this post for more tips on building a search-engine friendly site.

Build and maintain a social media presence. Huge sites like Facebook and Twitter tend to come up in the first page of results for most brands, so it’s a good idea to build your business’s presence on these networks. Take the time to pay attention to what people are saying about and to you by regularly checking your Twitter “@s” and scanning your Facebook fan page’s wall. If someone says something negative, respond in a polite manner and ask for his or her email contact details to follow up on the problem. If you’re able to resolve it, ask the person to delete the negative comment.

Set up search alerts. It’s not enough to Google your business name every so often to see what turns up: Thousands of people may have already read a nasty comment by the time you’ve spotted it. To stay on top of things, set up search alerts for your business name, your own name, and other business-associated terms on Google Alerts, and use a service such as Twilert to set up email notifications when your business is mentioned on Twitter. If you see someone post something negative about your business on a website, send an email to the site’s owner to request its removal. If no contact details are available, you can use the who.is domain search tool to find out who the site belongs to.

Keep an eye on consumer review sites. Google won’t catch everything for you, so you’ll also want to watch popular consumer sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor for reviews of your business. When someone praises your establishment, thank him or her for the comments — and when you receive a negative review, write a public apology if the customer’s concerns are valid. If the review doesn’t seem legitimate, you may have grounds to request its removal.

Get litigious if necessary. If someone writes something that’s abusive and entirely untrue about your business online, it might be time to consider legal action. Before retaining a lawyer, first ask the individual to remove the content in question. If he or she refuses, the threat of an expensive lawsuit will often ensure that the nasty comments have vanished by the next time you Google your company’s name.

About Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is a principal at the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media. She's written about business, marketing, and entrepreneurship for publications including BNET, TheAtlantic.com, Inc.com, and owns and operates the positive news site Gimundo. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynhawkins.
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3 comments
Karen Magno
Karen Magno

Great post. Thanks for the tip on Twilert.

Lily@SEOperks
Lily@SEOperks

I think Dan hit that right on the head; SEO is so important. Great post.

Dan@TeamWorkLive
Dan@TeamWorkLive

These are all great tips. Recently, I came across a small business owner looking for help with marketing and as it turned out they actually needed SEO but had no idea that SEO even existed! Understanding basic SEO for small businesses is so important to their success.

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  1. [...] you ever feel like your business is clinging to survival? Or that you’re one lost client or bad Yelp review away from [...]

  2. [...] what potential customers, clients, and colleagues may be reading — about them online. Effective reputation management involves more than merely responding to negative comments about your product, service, staff, or [...]