Managing your online reputation is essential. The first step is to find places where people
are talking about you, and the second step is to do something about it. You can always
find people gabbing away about this or that on forums. That’s what forums are for; they
offer a place where people can chat and sound off.
Searching for comments about your company online will definitely lead you to forums. But
if somebody is saying something negative about you on a forum, you’ve got to proceed with
caution. Acting rashly can actually ruin your reputation even more.
Why is this so? Because people on forums like to complain. That’s what they do there.
If you respond to them and start talking about how great your company is, it’ll look like
obvious self-promotion. Doing this will not win anyone over to your side, and will probably
lead to more attacks against you.
One of the reasons why you don’t want to do this is that it stretches out the thread. By
sticking up for yourself, you’re adding new content. When new content gets added to a
forum thread, Google picks it up because it has “fresh content.” It goes up in Google’s
ranks and even more people find this negative comment about you.
If you defend yourself and a bunch of other members jump into the discussion, then you’ve
really got problems.
So, what else can you do? Ignoring it will not make it go away. It will still be there,
dragging your name through the mud, as long as anybody’s reading it or adding their 2
If the negative comments are actually slanderous, libelous, untrue or obscene, you can flag
it as “inappropriate” or contact the forum moderators to get it removed. Other than that,
it might take some big muscle to get anything done. In that case, you’re better off hiring
professionals to clean it up for you.
If you’ve got a small business, you should be aware that at some point, you WILL get
attacked. The internet is a massive bulletin board for any disgruntled customer, angry ex-
employee or sneaky competitor that wants to drag your name through the dirt. This is why
you need to think about SERM – “Search Engine Reputation Management.” As soon as
possible, create a plan to deal with attacks whenever they arise.
Everything everybody does online is public. It’s there for the whole world to see, 24 hours
a day and 7 days a week. Worst of all, it doesn’t go away. Here are some tips on making
the perfect plan for your business.
Act Fast But Not Hastily. When somebody attacks you online, it’s important to act quickly,
but you don’t want to do anything rash. When you see yourself bad-mouthed on a forum,
it’s tempting to reply and set the person straight. But this can make your company look
even worse, and it also raises the thread in Google by adding more content to it. Act
quickly, but be cool and calm.
Consider Everything. There are lots of places people can attack you online, so be
prepared for every situation. For example – a blog post that portrays your company
negatively; a forum member sounding off about your services; a review site user that gives
you a bad rating. Develop a plan for each of these situations.
Do Your Own Monitoring. Set aside a little bit of time each day to monitor what’s being said
about you online. You can make this easier by using Google Alerts or other services that
let you know by email when you’re mentioned.
Put Yourself In Your Customers’ Shoes. Whenever something happens, always put
yourself in their shoes first. This will give you a good idea on what’s the appropriate way to
Be Proactive In Projecting A Good Image. Give your customers quality service and seek
out good testimonials, reviews and comments.
These are just a few ideas for creating your SERM plan. If you’re really worried about
your online reputation, you can always hire a company that specializes in reputation
management. Doing that takes it all out of your hands so you can do more important
Reputation management is essential if you’re doing business online or off. People are talking online, and what they say can be extremely damaging to your business. One negative listing can really cause trouble.
There are lots of ways to take care of your reputation online. Let’s consider a few different options and how much they cost.
The Do It Yourself Route
You can always do it yourself for pretty much free. What it costs you is some of your time, but it’s well worth it to keep your reputation from being drug through the mud. You should devote a little time each day to monitoring the Web for negative comments or postings. Google Alerts is a free service you can use to help you do this. You can then deal with negative things as they pop up through a variety of different methods. While it’s not as effective as paying experts to do it for you, it’s definitely the most cost-effective way to go.
Reputation Management Software
You can invest in some reputation management software that automates parts of the process for you. These can be fully customized and often have other tools for privacy protection and SEO. This frees you from having to do it yourself.
Then there are companies that can handle your reputation management for you. This is a better option than using software because your reputation’s in the hands of skilled pros. You’ve got to pay a bit more, but what you get is a group of human beings on the other end who are skilled at doing this.
The Cost Of NOT Taking Care Of Your Reputation
Finally, consider the cost of not managing your online reputation. If you think about the customers you’ll gain and keep in the long run, you’ll easily see that it’s an investment in a profitable future.