Have you searched for your name and business on Google and reviewed the results lately? Are you monitoring and managing your online reputation? What others are saying about you online can have a great impact on your business. In fact, it could have more impact than anything you have posted yourself (on your website, ads, social media, etc.)

Increasingly, the web is offering sites that invite the public to post reviews and comments on their buying experiences. In addition to Facebook, GooglePlus, Twitter and similar social platforms, consumers (and even business owners) are turning to sites such as Yelp, Google Places and Foursquare for information and input into their purchasing decisions.

Monitoring and managing your online reputation is a matter of keeping an eye on what others are saying about you online. Numerous reputation management companies offer to track this for a fee; consider doing it yourself or having a trusted staff member do it for you with these tips from Forbes.com:

  • Conduct a Google search on your name and business name, and review the results (including Google Images). Use the Google Alert tool with your name and your business name to keep track of new content added.
  • Purchase your domain name, even if you don’t plan to use it. Consider buying variations of your name to prevent others from buying them and creating issues for you. Experts recommend developing a brief landing page that tells who you are and what you do and parking it at these domains.
  • Sites such as Tumblr, Flavors.me, About.me and WordPress allow you to consolidate all your content (which is particularly useful if you do not have a primary website). Consider “applying” your domain to a consolidated site so guests will be redirected here when they type in your URL (web address).
  • Reserve your name on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. It is ideal to set up a full profile (using keywords for your business that will help with search engine optimization) and post regularly. (The best sites for you depend on your business and where your targeted prospects can be found.) Create a posting schedule you are able to maintain. If you don’t know what sites are right for you, have the time to set up the profiles or manage the accounts, consider hiring someone to do it for you. Page Progressive offers these services; please contact us if you are interested.
  • Optimize your presence on the social media platforms by customizing the URL (web address) to include your full name. When possible, include links to your pages on other social media (to strengthen your online presence).
  • Think before you post. Choose strategically the information and images you post, like and share. Experts recommend developing a plan for your posts; know what you want to achieve and post only items that will move you toward your goal. Consider what reaction a post may receive from others, and never publish something that may represent you or your company in a bad light. If someone else posts a comment or image that reflects poorly on you or your business, address it immediately. Photos tags can often be removed by either you or the person who posted the photo. (Contact the person and ask that he/she remove it, if needed. He/she may not have looked at the post from a business owner’s perspective.) In regards to negative comments, contact the person who posted it and resolve the problem off-line. Request that the negative post be removed, if possible. If it is not possible, respond to the post publicly with a courteous explanation of the resolution reached, refraining from retaliation against the person who originally posted the complaint or criticism.

As our world becomes increasingly virtual and social, managing your online reputation will continue to be part of running a business. Monitoring your presence and responding promptly at any sign of trouble is key to protecting your good standing.

If you are interested in getting help with your reputation management or social media presence, contact us at Page Progressive. We are Raleigh-based specialists in web design, programming and internet marketing.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post to learn more about online reputation management tools that anyone can use.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net