Simple Steps to Protect Your Online Reputation


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Simple Steps to Protect Your Online Reputation

Is your business devoting the time it needs to managing your online reputation? Most offline businesses never think about it. They may not even know the damage that a negative review might be causing them.

What folks don’t realize is that reputation management is something you have to be proactive about. You don’t wait until an attack comes and then start worrying about it. Once that happens, it’s too late. One site that talks badly about your company can be seen all the time all over the world.

Step One — Monitor Your Online Rep

It all starts with simply keeping tabs on what’s being said about your company online. You can start by searching for your name in the search engines. Next, search for your name along with ‘reviews.’ After that, try your name with a bunch of nasty negative search terms like, ‘sucks,’ ‘stinks,’ ‘horrible,’ ‘scam,’ and, ‘lousy customer service.’

Ouch.

Well, hopefully you don’t get any exact matches for any of those. You might want to make sure you’re sitting down just in case you do!

Step Two — Respond Quickly

This is definitely the trickiest step. You should respond as quickly as possible but at the same time, don’t say anything rash.

If you find a review or website that has a legitimate complaint about your business, take a few minutes and sulk. When you’re finished, get ahold of yourself and craft your reply.

Respond to the listing and first of all, thank them for the feedback. Then ask if there is any way your service can be improved. You might tell them that you’ve taken it into consideration and brought it up with your staff. The important thing is that you’re letting other people who read the negative listing know that you’re listening and you care.

If it’s something that’s just outright mean, insulting, obscene, nasty or slanderous, contact the website owner and ask them to remove it. Some sites will let you ‘flag as inappropriate.’ If you don’t get a response from the owner, you can contact the hosting service and let them know there’s something libelous on one of the sites they host.

If the problem’s more complex than that, you might consider hiring reputation management specialists. This is a growing industry and there are lots of specialists offering their services.

Step Three — Get Good Reviews

Good reviews can often neutralize bad reviews. Ask your customers to leave you feedback at review websites like Yelp, Citysearch, Google Places or any other relevant review sites. To get them to do it, offer a discount or coupon for each review. Tell lots of people because it’s all about the numbers — there’s a certain percentage who’ll tell you they’ll do it but won’t.

The most important thing is that you’ve got to be civil. The reason is that everybody else is going to be reading it. If you reply in a nasty way, you’ll look desperate and defensive, and that’ll just cause more damage to your online reputation.

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