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Anthony is CEO of Reputation Resolutions, a company that helps businesses and individuals repair, protect & manage their online reputation.
Having an online presence that represents you and your business accurately is no longer a “nice to have” — it is an absolute necessity. Whether you like it or not, what is displayed on the first page of Google search results carries significant weight when it comes to your reputation and how the public perceives you in the real world.
Billions of searches are performed on Google every single day. Many of them are performed by your potential customers, hiring managers, dates and many more — all turning to Google to find information about you.
This is an important opportunity. If their search yields positive information about your business and what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to engage. On the flip side, if there’s no information about you or your business — or the information displayed on Page 1 of Google is negative — chances are they’ll move on and look elsewhere.
Rather than adopting a laissez-faire attitude toward your online reputation, now is the time to seize control and make Google search results work to your advantage.
What is online reputation management?
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Online reputation management (ORM) is a proactive approach to ensure that positive and desired information appears in search results for a particular keyword — for example, your company name.
Why You Should Be Invested in Your Online Reputation
If you’re still not sold on the importance of online reputation management, consider these statistics:
• 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting or contacting a business.
• 77% of recruiters vet applicants online before contacting them.
• 38% of people Google their prospective dates.
Below are five tips that anyone can carry out to better manage their online reputation.
1. Audit your online reputation.
Performing an audit of your online reputation is easier than you think. If you haven’t done so before, or it’s been a while, Google yourself or your business and analyze each link that is displayed on the first page. The goal is to discover how you are currently represented online and uncover any search results that could harm your reputation.
As with any resolution or goal, it’s much easier to achieve them with a plan. After your online reputation audit, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the results. Create an action item list separated into small digestible tasks. Outline areas that can be improved immediately and notate what websites need to be enhanced, updated or removed.
2. Remove negative content and search results.
In an ideal world, your online reputation audit would report a pristine outcome. However, if you find negative, false or defamatory content on Google, it may be possible to remove it altogether. There are numerous tactics and strategies you can use to remove damaging content online, including:
• Terms and conditions violations.
• DMCA (copyright) takedown notices.
• Court-ordered content/link removal.
3. Monitor your online reputation.
Instead of getting caught flat-footed when content surfaces online, you can set up automated alerts to notify you anytime you or your business is mentioned anywhere on Google.
Thankfully, Google offers a powerful (and free) monitoring tool called Google alerts. Navigate to
and follow the prompts to create a Google alert to receive email notifications informing you of any new search result(s) that match the keyword you are tracking (e.g., your company name).
4. Create a personal or professional website.
Purchasing your web domain for yourself or your business is crucial to retaining influence and control over your online presence.
The annual cost for a web domain is relatively low and can be bought for as little as $11.99 on sites such as GoDaddy. They also offer Privacy Protection for an additional $9.99 per year, which keeps your details (e.g., email address) away from spammers.
While creating a personal website is not a necessity, it’s an excellent idea as it allows you to control how you are represented and perceived by those searching for you on Google.
5. Manage your online reviews.
This action item is for existing business owners. As mentioned earlier, most customers will look up reviews about your business before ever contacting you. Online reviews tell a powerful story, and as a business owner, you want that story to be positive, or you risk losing a significant amount of business over time.
Realistically, in business it’s nearly impossible to make 100% of your client base happy, so that dreaded negative review is ultimately inevitable. However, the story doesn’t have to end there. Most review platforms offer businesses the opportunity to respond to reviews. This allows you to provide context to the situation and lets the disgruntled customer, as well as the online community, know that you’re committed to setting things right.
Another method to mitigate the damage of negative reviews is to consistently request feedback from your happy customers. The easiest way to do this is by simply asking your customers for a review in person or via email when it is clear they had a great experience with your company. Alternatively, there is now a multitude of software solutions on the market that will help you automate the process of collecting reviews from your happy customers.
Use the above guide as a building block for your online reputation. If you can’t dedicate time and effort to each item immediately, focus on the audit to help create a game plan. Once you have a strategy and timeline in place, you can take simple yet actionable steps to give your online reputation a well-deserved boost.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
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Author: Anthony Will, Forbes Councils Member