Managing Your Business’s Online Reputation

Updated: April 20, 2010

No matter what your business is, other people will go online and search for you and your business online to find out what others are saying. The results of their searches will guide whether they decide to do business with you or with someone else.

It used to be that businesses only had to worry about what was being said about them and their business on television or in the newspapers. Now that the Internet is upon us, thousands of platforms have been opened up that can potentially speak about your company.

In fact, if you type in the name of your business surrounded by quotation marks, you may be surprised at what you learn. Most businesses have been reviewed at one time or another online and many of the owners of those businesses are not aware of that.

The implication of this is that your customers (existing and potential) are not only reading the content that you have carefully crafted and published online but also what other people have to say about you and your business. This is actually a good thing. The more people write about you and your business, the more credibility you earn.

People can now communicate much more easily about whatever they choose. That includes positive and negative opinions. The can put their opinions into blog postings, website content, and many other social media venues that get a huge volume of traffic.

There is a great deal that you can do to strengthen your reputation online. The more positive content you publish, the stronger your business's reputation online will be. The stronger your online presence, the stronger your online reputation will be.

Your business's website

If your business does not have any sort of online presence yet, you should immediately have a website built. When clients are trying to find you and check out what you do, the first place that they are going to do is look to see if you have a website.

You should make sure to include samples of your best work and as many testimonials as you are able to gather. Testimonials go a very long way in increasing your online exposure and reputation.

Microsites

In addition to your primary website, you should create smaller websites that specifically speak about the work that your business does. This will allow your business to have greater exposure and the search engines will find you more easily. You can create a microsite for charity work that you might be involved with and special promotions of new products and/or services or upcoming special events.

Your business's blog

A blog is a wonderful way to increase your business's online exposure. Blogging gives you the chance to communicate what you are offering in an extremely positive manner. It allows you to put a face on your business and gives you the opportunity to

  • Speak about your products and services
  • Announce special promotions
  • Speak about success stories
  • Speak about your latest business developments

In many cases, your blog will appear as a secondary result below your website in the search engines, which is exactly what you want.

Social media accounts

Many people think that the most popular social media sites are for kids and college students. That is a total misconception. Social media channels are excellent platforms for giving information to your existing customers, attracting new customers, and understanding the competition.

Because social media channels are so searchable, it is very important that everyone who is connected to you professionally is cognizant of what they put on their personal pages. The last thing that you need is to have offensive photographs of your employees seen by your business associates.

Not only are all of your accounts on the social media channels searchable but they tend to come up high in the search engine rankings. In the interest of transparency, you should encourage your customers to check out your social media accounts on a regular basis to keep abreast of what is new in your business. The social media channels are another excellent way to increase your online reputation.

Establish yourself as a subject matter expert (SME)

Social media allows you to position yourself to the world as an SME. By continually promoting discussions and answering questions, leaving comments, posting blog articles, and supplying fresh links to news stories, you are demonstrating that you are in expert in your particular niche and that other people can feel comfortable coming to you for valuable information. When your business's name or your name is associated to the information, the valuable content is picked up by search engines.

If you can position yourself as an SME, it will not only add to your positive online presence but it will become a wonderful marketing tool for you as well.

Handling criticism directly

If someone has something negative to say about you or your business, the most effective way to deal with it is openly and honestly. The most important thing is how you deal with the situations. It is always important to behave humbly and apologetically if a mistake has been made. If you handle the situations in that manner, not only will you be diffusing the situation but the person on the other end will respect you also.

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