How Small Businesses Should Approach Online Reputation Management

In the past, small businesses didn’t have to worry about terms such as “online PR”, “SEO”, or “reputation management” But with the constant shift towards the Internet, it has become increasingly important to stay aware of your online presence. Whether you realize it or not, a poor reputation can have lasting effects on your small business. However, you don’t need extensive technical know-how or years of experience in public relations; simply take advantage of the online reputation management resources around you. The following tips can help you manage your presence and what others and saying about your business:

Monitor Your Presence

Use Search Engines:
To get an idea of your current online reputation, you’ll want to first perform an assessment on your name and brand. Use search engines such as Google or Bing to search your business’s name and relevant keywords, and look at what appears in the first few search results. If there are any negative results or links that reflect poorly on your business, then this may be a sign of the damage control ahead of you.

Check Social Media:
Search engine results are not the only place where your business can appear. More and more customers are using social media to fuel their dialogue about niches, industries, and relevant businesses. Therefore, you’ll also want to check on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in order to gauge what others are saying about your name. Depending on your business, you’ll also want to expand your search towards more niche-specific sites, such as Yelp and Foursquare.

Set Up Alerts:
Even if your search engine results are free from any bad reviews or sentiments, there’s no reason why it cannot appear in the future. Google Alerts are a great way to keep tabs on your business’s name and niche, as it sends recurring emails straight to your inbox. In addition, there are a variety of other tools, such as Social Mention that can help you manage the dialogue through social media channels.

Manage your Reputation

Deal with Negative Content:
If you encounter any bad press or links in search results, then you may want to try to remove the content, if possible. Try reaching out to the owner of the site or blog, and ask politely if they can remove any harmful information related to your site. This practice also applies to social media – if someone has tagged you in an embarrassing status update or picture, then you may want to disassociate yourself with the content as quickly as possible. But this process can be tricky – if the owner is unresponsive or refuses, then you may want to avoid pressing the issue, as this can result in more harm than good.

Own Your Name:
One great way to build up your online reputation is to make sure that you “own” your name as much as possible. For example, your business should have a website, along with a blog, that prominently displays its name in the URL. Doing so will provide your business with a credible platform through which it can produce good content and counter any negative press. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that you own all social media accounts associated with your business, to ensure that no one else can speak for your name. In general, make sure that you follow good SEO practices, so you can maintain an authoritative position in searches for your name and business.

Grow your Online Name

If you’re looking to progress your online presence, then you’ll want to take proactive measures to grow your reputation. Make sure that you respond to feedback, reviews, or comments received on any social media channel. Doing so will demonstrate that you are involved with your community, along with your audience. In addition, if you possess a blog or social media account, you’ll want to produce consistent content on these channels, as this will boost your authority. In general, conduct your online practices as you would online, and your business will gain the benefits of such positive practices.

About the Author: Sara Fletcher is a professional blogger who writes on a variety of topics, ranging from SEO, social media and business. She loves to learn all she can about online marketing, and is always looking for the next writing opportunity.

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