When you were a teenager, you probably spent a fair amount of time worrying about your reputation. Now that you own a small business, you should worry about it even more.
The online reputation experts at Reputation Maxx in Scottsdale, Arizona, say the majority of small businesses approach this topic in a very simplistic matter. They report that it's typical for a small-business owner to do a Google search on his or her company name, then give the results no more than a cursory look to make sure the business itself shows up in the first position, followed by its social media accounts and favorable online mentions.
By not delving any deeper into the results, and ignoring what shows up on page three, four or higher, a small-business owner might miss the things that could effectively harm the company's online reputation. The constantly moving nature of the Internet means a complaint logged today that reveals itself on page four of the search engine results might one day show up as the number-one item.
"There's nothing worse than letting a small blemish on the Internet fester into a gaping wound that's been on the first page of search engine results for months or even years before doing anything about it," says Reputation Maxx CEO Walter Halicki. "The best thing you can do is take a proactive approach and create a line of defense."
So what's your best line of defense? According to Halicki, business owners should try the following four strategies to ensure their online reputations glow:
1. Check your results often. Be diligent about monitoring your company's search results. You or someone you assign to the task should be checking at least once a month. And don't just read the front page and move on. See what's lingering further into the results by searching through all your results.
2. Reach out to the "Negative Nellies." If you find something that was posted by a client or customer that involves a negative review of your product or service, reach out to the author. This isn't the time to be argumentative or combative. Instead, approach them respectfully, using tact and choosing your words carefully to find out why they're unhappy. A frank discussion could persuade the poster to switch their sentiment from negative to positive.
3. Bring positive results higher. If you can't find a way to quash or change the negative comment, you can try to add positive feedback or articles that will show up higher in search results. Take advantage of the social media platforms you use to incorporate and publish positive customer comments. The idea is to fill the search space with so many rave reviews that they push the negative comments further down into the search results.
4. Hire an expert. Because of the fluid nature of search algorithms and the sea of mystery that surrounds search results, you may not have the time or knowledge to handle the chore yourself. If that's the case, try an online reputation expert to examine the available data and polish up your company's presence.
Whatever you do, don't damage your online reputation by ignoring the issue. It's not vain to sit down and Google search yourself or your company. It's how you discover what's being said about you or your business and what others see when they're looking for your business.
You've worked hard to build your company and your reputation. Don't let a few negative issues rain on your parade.
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