Reputation means everything in the business world. Good word of mouth brings your old customers coming back and helps to bring in new ones. Today’s educated consumer base does the majority of their research online, which means having a bad online reputation is potentially disastrous to your company. Even if your company does not have a big presence online, that does not mean that customers aren’t using the internet to bash you. What can be done to protect your e-reputation while increasing your online presence and ensure that your business continues to function at its highest level?
Find out what they are saying
The first item on your list should be finding out what people are saying online. Is there a lot of bashing going on? If so, you have some issues that need correcting immediately. A simple search for your business name should let you see what, if anything, people are saying. You can then sign up for a Google update which will notify you if anything new gets posted online with your business name. This lets you be informed and respond to criticism quickly before it spreads to damaging viral levels. How many times have you heard a customer say something along the lines of “Oh, I read some bad things about —- online…” – this can all be avoided if you deal with those negative comments head first.
Dealing with the critics
Regardless of how awesome your business is, your tactics are bound to rub someone the wrong way. People love complaining and will take whatever opportunity they get. Since you obviously can’t control everything that people say, your best play is to minimize the damage. I’ve seen business owners personally respond to negative comments, apologizing and asking for a second chance at doing business again. This personal touch goes a long ways. Never get into an argument with negative customers – be polite, professional and straight to the point. Being signed up for Google alerts provides you with the ability to respond almost immediately to online criticism which makes you look proactive, having the customer’s best interests in mind.
Positioning your website for success
Along with protecting your reputation online comes the responsibility of increasing your website’s visibility. How do you get people to find your website? Most visitors will find you through a search engine like Google or Bing. If you are not on the top page of results for the relevant keywords associated with your business , chances are slim that anyone will stumble upon your page. Getting to the top of the list should be your goal. This can be accomplished by making sure the code of your page is loaded with keywords and meta-tags that enable searchers to find you.
You also should be creating social media profiles and pushing for subscribers/followers. Get out and create a Twitter profile. If you get enough followers re-tweeting your updates, search engine crawlers will take notice of all the links pointing towards you and move you up the ranks towards the coveted top position. Get people talking and sharing your info – whether they are Tweets, blog posts or Facebook updates – everything makes a difference at increasing your visibility. This is all a part of something called search engine optimization (SEO for short). SEO services can help boost your search engine results almost overnight, getting you closer to the nearly endless benefits of being on top of search pages.
Everything you post online all helps create your online reputation. You need to take charge and manage this down to the micro level. Be alerted whenever anything pops up with your company’s name on it so you can quickly turn to damage control. In this high tech age, your online presence is a necessity for any successful, forward thinking business and it is up to you to maintain that presence at a high level.