Checking the pulse of your online reputation on a regular basis is a necessary part of protecting it. This is all about tracking and monitoring what content exists on the internet that is directly connected to your name and your brand. The first step is doing an assessment of what already exists. Make no mistake about it. Your online reputation is critical to your future success. Without maintenance, your online reputation can easily slide downhill without your knowledge and it may be a disaster before you find out. To take control is to be aware. While you cannot control what others will say, you can provide balance.
You know how every product on Amazon has at least one bad review? Does that stop people from buying? Not at all. Well, if there are 100 good reviews to every 5 bad ones. Same with your reputation. You can count on some negative content, but if there is more positive content out there to counter it, then your reputation won’t take such a hit.
It’s important to remember that prospects “see” you in a certain light when you start to identify with certain opinions, groups and ideas. And that’s okay as long as you want that connection. What isn’t to your benefit is if you just do something offensive without reason or thought. In other words, if I want to talk about something like Net Neutrality then I need to be prepared for anyone who doesn’t agree. But if I have a bad day at the office, I would do better not to gripe about “bad clients” on social media even in a closed group. Complaining out in public just looks negative on different levels and does nothing for me or my brand. Plus it doesn’t help me deal with the situation anyway. Closed groups don’t guarantee privacy. People can take a screenshot and share it anywhere online. Maybe even where a prospect of yours might see it.
You just want to avoid unknowingly putting out negative information that someone could manipulate without your knowledge. So here are some tips to take the pulse of your reputation…
Take a real look at what others see.
Use Multiple Search Engines
Don’t focus all your searching on just one search engine such as Google Search. Remember that there are others that people use such as Yahoo!, Ask.com and more. Using the keywords you want to rank for, search each search engine to find out what others are finding out about you. In addition, do a search for just your name, or just your company name. This is a good way to find out what people see when they do that, and make no mistake, people do that. Remember to disable personalized search results as you are doing your research.
Use Social Media for Searching
Don’t forget that people more and more use social media almost as a search engine. Try searching for keywords, your name, the companies name, the product name and more on each social media network. It’s a great way to monitor the buzz about you and your company. Social media is very important today when it comes to your online reputation. Not only do you want to monitor what others say about you, but you need to be cognizant of what you’re saying and doing on social media.
Set up a Google Alert
A Google Alert lets you use various keywords, company names, personal names, and more to be sent information in your inbox from news, blogs and social media when that term is used. It’s a great way to monitor when something is being said about your company as well as keep up-to-date in your niche. You can be sure to comment on blogs that are about your niche, as well as comment on discussions that your product, service, or business was discussed.
Go A Couple Pages In
Most people who search for your information won’t go past the first couple of pages, but you should go in three or four pages just to be sure about the results. Search for your company name, your name, your product, the brand, your handles and user names as well to find out what’s being said about you or what you’ve said about you. Most of the time the things you find out that aren’t very good will be information you’ve put out yourself without thinking.
This isn’t about being paranoid, but about protecting your reputation online. 90% of consumers do research online before spending money and the same applies to you and your small business. Not having enough content can be as bad as having something negative. Thin or little content doesn’t help with your authority or search ranking. If you do find something negative, see if there is a way to remove them such as on a business listing. If it is showing up in search from another website such as a blogger, you may want to start thinking about a strategy of creating more positive links to try and bury them. Just remember, your search results will vary depending on search settings, browser cache and geo-location. If your online reputation barely has a pulse and it’s bad enough, it may be time to hire a Public Relations professional (not a publicist) or a Brand Management service.