Online reputation management is a crucial factor in the success of any business in this technological age. In order to maintain a successful online presence, however, you must master various tools and maintain a vigilant watch over various online communities. Unfortunately, most small business owners don’t have the time to do this effectively which is why so few small businesses can claim success online. Fortunately, there are online presence managers like me out there who can manage the day to day monitoring of your brand’s online reputation.
The Business Owner’s Guide to Online Reputation Management
Whether or not you choose to hire an online reputation manager to help with your online business reputation is up to you. That said, you have to begin somewhere and the sooner you start managing your online reputation, the better. So, let’s get you started on the road to success…
Start By Googling Yourself
One of the best ways to determine just what type of situation you are dealing with when it comes to your online presence is to hit Google. Google your company name, brand, or personal name and see what Google pulls up. Look through returned image results as well as the first few pages of search results.
What do you see? Are there search results that reflect unfortunate moments that you wish had never happened? If, so, get started on deleting any this content that you can control and request removal of anything you were not responsible for posting.
A helpful tool in scanning your online reputation in social media can be found here.
You may not be able to control every search result that pulls up when you search your name, but you want to do as much damage control as possible so that you can rebuild a positive online presence.
Get Your Own Website
Another crucial part of your online reputation is your personal website. If you don’t have a website already, build one or pay someone to build one for you. It’s preferable to have a business website, a brand website (or brand section of your business website), and a personal website. Covering all of your bases in this way creates a larger online footprint that can be used to advertise your business. Additionally, having a personal website allows you to maintain a high profile online despite the status of your business. What I mean is this – say you build a business, it becomes successful and you then sell that business on. When you sell that business you are selling the online real estate that you have built for that business as well. By building a personal website that reflects your link to this online business, you maintain a piece of this online real estate. You may be starting again with a new business, but this way you will have a foundation already built online from which to launch.
What should you keep in mind when establishing a website? The following points will go a long way in your website’s success.
- Your company/brand website should include your company/brand name and be as simple and easy to remember as possible. Avoid hyphens, numbers, and misspellings.
- Your personal website should include your name for maximum exposure and “linkability” to your accomplishments.
- Create a well written and all-encompassing “About Me” page for each website you own. Write all information from the 3rd person point of view and write it naturally rather than keyword stuffing the page.
- Offer dynamic content. Dynamic content keeps visitors coming back to your website for new information on a regular basis.
- Include a newsletter/feed sign-up box on your site to keep visitors abreast of news even if they don’t regularly visit your website. This also provides you with a database of contact information for those interested in your business, brand, and ventures.
- Make sure that you make yourself easy to find on all of your online websites. Provide contact information in various formats so that you are easily reachable.
Claim Your Social Media Handle
Whether we are talking about your personal name, your business name, or your brand name, claim your handle on social media networks. Your social media handles are important real estate and should be claimed even if you don’t intend on using them immediately (although you should!) Don’t allow competitors to stake claims to your name.
Which social media networks should you claim your handle on? ALL OF THEM including…
Even if you don’t make use of these profiles immediately, optimize them to reflect your website URL, contact information, and a basic snippet describing what you do and who you are.
It’s equally important to claim your Google Business listing and optimize your business in the Google Business Forum.
Offer Valuable Content
No matter whether we are talking about your social media network profiles, your personal blog, or your websites, always provide VALUABLE content.
When you offer up valuable content you not only provide your readers with quality information and keep them coming back for more, but you also establish your reputation as an authority online.
Your authority online is linked to your success in search engine rankings so you must always make sure to provide accurate and reliable information on a timely basis.
What is “valuable” content?
What determines whether content is valuable or not depends on your niche, your business, and the platform you are presenting the information on. For example, what is valuable on an interactive network like Twitter is not necessarily the same content that would be considered valuable on a more professional network like LinkedIn. It is up to you to know how to approach each of your social networks and present relevant content in a way that is appealing to the audience in question.
Keep an Eye on Online Reviews
Providing intriguing, dynamic, and relevant content is all well and good, but if, while you are doing this, others are presenting a negative picture of your business, then you’re going to find yourself paddling upstream.
Unfortunately, one negative online review can destroy your efforts to build a positive online reputation in no time at all. To prevent this from happening, you must monitor all of the major online review portals on a regular basis.
Not all reviews of your business are going to be positive ones, but you can manage the negative ones by addressing them immediately. Don’t go in with guns blazing, but take a democratic approach and remember that your customer is always right. In one word a disgruntled customer can ruin your online reputation, so manage negative reviews with grace and aplomb.
Does this mean that you have to agree with a customer who is wrong or promote values that your business does not stand for in order to avoid negative reviews? Not at all. Above all else, you must maintain the values on which you built your business. What I am saying is that you should know when to take up arms and know when to back down. The cases in which you should “take up arms” are very few and very far between.
Digital PR and You
When publishing content online, creating a reputation of authority is about more than simply publishing articles on your blog. When you self-publish it’s you saying that your articles are worth noting. What you need, however, is for someone else to say that your articles are worth noting. Look at it this way – are you more likely to trust the word of a man who says that he’s an authority or the word of a man who others say is an authority?
So how do you go about being recognized as an authority? It’s all about public relations. Building relationships with others and reaching out to relevant networks and publications. Everything you do is going to be built upon reciprocal relationships and value. When you submit interesting and relevant content, you are providing publications with material to interest their readers. In return, by publishing your content, these reputable authorities are recognizing your value in the industry.
Whether you are submitting content to publications or interacting with or requesting recognition from someone who is recognized in your industry, it’s important to maintain the proper rules of etiquette. If you are a newcomer or a newer name, recognize the fact that well-known influences in the industry fought to get where they are. Unless you have something to offer them in return, they are unlikely to give anything to you for “free”. Spend time cultivating relationships with people of all statuses in your industry, create a community, build friendships with no expectations of getting something in return.
Once you have established solid relationships it won’t take long for you to be recognized for the value that you have to offer. Just don’t force friendships by being “fake” or by expecting something when you have nothing to give.
If you are the more experienced one in your industry, remember that you were once where these newcomers are. Make room in your busy schedule to recognize that newer talents in your industry may have something of value to offer. It’s all about building a strong industry of businesses and business owners who support each other to create a market of great products and services.
Get Someone to Do the Legwork For You
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of maintaining your online presence, get someone to do the legwork for you. Guys like me specialize in providing these services because we know what we are doing and we have the tools to do it. Your job as a business owner is to manage and delegate to ensure that your business succeeds. This alone is a full-time job (or two). Instead of pushing yourself to breaking point, invest in a professional online reputation manager who can relieve your burden and use their expertise to boost your company ahead of the competition.
Considering an online reputation manager?
If you are considering hiring someone to help you to establish your online reputation or perhaps do a little cleanup work on your existing reputation, I’d be happy to help! Just give me a call at 727-217-5752 and let’s get you started on the right trajectory for online success.