The key to having a solid, authentic and positive online reputation is management. That’s why you shouldn’t sit back and assume there’s nothing damaging online to be found. Even if there is no negative information, you would also be neglecting a great opportunity to build your business’s:
- Credibility and authority
When faced with options consumers turn to the internet and simply “Google” a business’s name as their first and often times only effort in performing due diligence.
Remember, an online presence isn’t just about being found on search engines. It’s also about having potential customers pick you from the other options available to them.
How an Online Reputation is Created?
Like it or not you have an online reputation. It may not be extensive. It could even be what you feel is neutral, having no negative or positive slope. If that’s the case, you can be certain it won’t stay that way for long.
Whenever your business is mentioned online, whether it’s on a forum, review, blog comment, or social media post there is a very good chance it will be “indexed” by search engines like Google. Search engines crawl the entire internet day and night discovering new content that has been published.
That’s why setting your Google Alerts is so important. It can email you shortly after information about your business as it appears in its search index.
This is why a breaking story can almost instantly be found when you “Google” the subject. So, all it takes is one person to mention your business name on a public website to have it show up when someone else “Googles” your business’s name.
Since there probably aren’t millions, thousands or even hundreds of other websites competing with your business name as a search term, there is a high probability that a simple comment can show up on the first page of a Google search result for your business name.
This is why online reviews are so powerful. They can be a prominent and even the only information that shows up on a search for your business name. This may be surprising and perhaps even a bit worrisome. But as you’ll learn shortly, it could also be a huge benefit if you are proactive in managing your online reputation.
So how do online reputations grow? Some of the most common ways are:
What Others Reveal About You
Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube are the fastest growing and most popular places people are spending their time on the internet. Unlike the early days when the internet was a one-way street where the tech savvy fed information to the public, social media is primarily public user created content.
Anyone and everyone can have their voice heard by millions of people regardless of how rational, or valid it is.
It a virtual media, where news, rumors, opinions, reviews, recommendations and about anything else you can talk about can be found. Given the right spin and momentum any of it can spread like wildfire through the internet.
So when someone, and when I say someone, I mean ANYONE, types in your business name and posts about your business on a social media network, whether it’s good bad or indifferent, your online reputation has just been altered.
What You Reveal About Yourself
You may know your way around the web quite well. You’ve set up your social networking profiles, started your blog, have a customer friendly website. However, we must realize that as humans we simply don’t spend every minute of every day focusing on potential online missteps. Sometimes unaware and without not knowing who can see what we are saying and we end up revealing more about ourselves to people.
Realizing this fact should bring caution to mind. Statistics show that potential business partners, customers and clients will visit your social network pages and sites.
You may think you’re posting in private when you discuss your problems on a dedicated forum – but that’s not always the case. Many of the posts and responses you make are searchable, which in turn makes your comment findable by your prospects. You may think you’re talking only to your friends when you share a quirky comment or let off steam – but then your friend (whose profile is public) re-posts your comment or quotes it.
You may have forgotten all about that infamous hunt camp photo – but there it is: Your “friend” at work decides to post it to your wall, reminding you about it. And that doesn’t even begin to include the details we routinely reveal about ourselves in the course of enjoyable, informal chatting – comments that may not even represent the real you. You don’t have to become a social media hermit, just be careful and think before you post. The easiest thing for you to do is keep your personal social media identity separate from your business’s social media identity.
Take advantage of the options for businesses on platforms like Facebook and Google+. Setup business pages and keep them focused on your business. Use your personal profiles to be social with online friends and family.