How to Manage Your Business's Online Reputation
Everyone has a bad experience with a company from time to time. But what if that company is your business and that customer just won’t stop blabbing about it all over the internet? When an unhappy customer — or, in some cases, an unethical competitor — starts badmouthing your operation online, you’ll need to take action fast or risk seeing your profits drop. Here’s how to make sure your business’s Google results are always glowing.
Create an SEO-optimized website. Your website should always be the first result when someone searches for your company’s name. If possible, secure the business’s name as your domain name and include the name, city, state, and other relevant keywords in your web copy and metatags. Work to build backlinks from other reputable sites, which will help your site climb higher in the search rankings. Check out this post for more tips on building a search-engine friendly site.
Build and maintain a social media presence. Huge sites like Facebook and Twitter tend to come up in the first page of results for most brands, so it’s a good idea to build your business’s presence on these networks. Take the time to pay attention to what people are saying about and to you by regularly checking your Twitter “@s” and scanning your Facebook fan page’s wall. If someone says something negative, respond in a polite manner and ask for his or her email contact details to follow up on the problem. If you’re able to resolve it, ask the person to delete the negative comment.
Set up search alerts. It’s not enough to Google your business name every so often to see what turns up: Thousands of people may have already read a nasty comment by the time you’ve spotted it. To stay on top of things, set up search alerts for your business name, your own name, and other business-associated terms on Google Alerts, and use a service such as Twilert to set up email notifications when your business is mentioned on Twitter. If you see someone post something negative about your business on a website, send an email to the site’s owner to request its removal. If no contact details are available, you can use the who.is domain search tool to find out who the site belongs to.
Keep an eye on consumer review sites. Google won’t catch everything for you, so you’ll also want to watch popular consumer sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor for reviews of your business. When someone praises your establishment, thank him or her for the comments — and when you receive a negative review, write a public apology if the customer’s concerns are valid. If the review doesn’t seem legitimate, you may have grounds to request its removal.
Get litigious if necessary. If someone writes something that’s abusive and entirely untrue about your business online, it might be time to consider legal action. Before retaining a lawyer, first ask the individual to remove the content in question. If he or she refuses, the threat of an expensive lawsuit will often ensure that the nasty comments have vanished by the next time you Google your company’s name.
Kathryn Hawkins is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.