Your company’s online reputation can be a great asset or it can be your biggest liability.

What does a Google search for your company name return? Defamatory news and media, competitor attacks, bad reviews, and negative press releases can haunt you forever on the internet. That is unless you make a conscious effort to manage the situation. Here are a few indications that your reputation might need some help—and, more importantly, 3 simple and actionable ways to improve your online footprint.

Signs of a Poor Reputation

You have a reputation issue if:

  • If you search for your brand name and find negative reviews or articles
  • If you search for your brand name and one of your competitors shows up on the first page of results
  • If you search your name and the content that shows up is not about you at all, even if it’s not negative

The ultimate goal of reputation management is to control as many of the top search results as possible with accurate and positive information about your brand. In those efforts, every negative result can do real damage.

Lastly, if you are experiencing a drop in lead volume that can’t be explained by rankings, traffic volume, or any of the usual culprits, it’s likely a negative listing in your brand search results.

According to a study by Moz companies risk losing a significant amount of business for every negative listing in the top 10 search results. You could lose 22% of potential customers from just one negative search result, and up to 70% if you have 4 or more negative listings on the first page of Google.

Taking control of what is out there online, and maintaining a good, enduring personal or brand reputation is an ongoing process—one that takes time and effort. It requires a well executed strategy to ensure that what you want people to think about you is actually being addressed in all your communications.

How to Fix Your Online Reputation

1. Be Aware!

You can’t do anything until you know there’s a problem. With more and more of the world’s population connected to the web every day, it is more important than ever to be aware of your company’s online reputation. Try setting up a Google Alert for your business name. This way, you will receive an email every time a new article (good or bad) shows up in Google’s index.

You should also periodically review the comments in your social media accounts, and search your brand name to see what is being said about you online. Actively monitoring social media can be a big undertaking, but responding to negative comments and customer concerns early can pay off in a big way.

If you want to get really clever, IFTTT (If This Then That) is a great app for monitoring your reputation. IFTTT can create a range of simple automations that activate in response to specific triggers. You set the trigger, and then give it a simple action to do in response, often in another channel. For example, if your business name is mentioned on Twitter, you can get a message directly in your team’s Slack channel or as an email in your inbox. You can choose from the hundreds of channels IFTTT supports and use it to help monitor your online reputation.

You can also use this nifty tool to see if your brand has any complaints on 40+ major complaint sites. Even if these listings are not yet in your top page of search results, it is very important to be aware and to handle negative feedback quickly.

2. Be Genuine!

Even the most conscientious business will eventually receive some form of negative or unwanted press. Unfortunately, that’s just part of doing business and being online. However, if you are receiving negative feedback consistently, there might be real issues to address in your company practices, products, services, or your customer support.

The most important thing you can do is to address these issues and take the necessary steps to improve. Once you have, you can be open and honest with your customers and respond to their feedback. Let your customers know what you are doing to resolve their issues, and improve your processes. This will build a significant amount of trust, and can often win over many of the customers who complained.

3. Be Social!

If you focus on just one or two social platforms, or you use the same content on every social platform, you might be missing out on valuable first-page real estate. Google and other search engines love to rank social profiles, especially if they consistently have fresh and unique content that people are engaging with.

As the internet meme goes, “Where is the best place to bury a dead body (or in our case a bad reputation)?” On the second page of Google SERPs.

Very few people ever get past the first page of search results. If there are outdated, false, or other unwanted articles and reviews on the top page, often the most effective way to keep them “outta sight and outta mind” is to bury them. Social profiles are an excellent tool for this effort, and they can allow you to control the top page of search.

There are dozens of potential social sites to choose from; the key is to create quality content that adds value to the audience of that social channel that you are trying to reach.

Taking measures to manage your personal online reputation is not just important; in some cases, it’s absolutely critical. If you are not in control of your personal or brand reputation online, you are losing opportunities, so don’t let the wound fester. Start taking steps to fix it immediately.

Of course, not every reputation crisis is an easy fix. If you’ve got a serious situation on your hands, or just want to know more about how to manage your online reputation, give Big Leap a call, and talk with one of our reputation management experts.

CJ Lewis