Online Reputation Management: 7 Things You Should Do Right Now

Preserve and improve your online presence

Whether you own a large corporation or you're an individual looking to build a strong online presence, establishing an excellent online reputation is key. When potential customers or business prospects want to learn about you, they'll Google you, read social media comments, and browse online reviews. What they learn may draw them toward you or push them away.

If you'd like to establish and maintain a positive online reputation, there are seven key things to do to ensure that your brand is seen in the best possible light.

Even the best businesses and organizations sometimes experience negative feedback online. If this happens to you, proper search engine optimization can reduce this negative attention or eliminate it entirely.

A person tapping a smiley face to depict a positive online reputation
 Getty Images

Monitor and Manage Google Searches

The most important aspect of online reputation management is understanding the impact of what people are saying about you online.

People often learn about you or your organization by conducting a Google search. According to searchenginepeople.com, 75 percent of users never click past the first page of search results, so it's important to show up higher in searches relating to your business or expertise.

For this reason, it's critical to regularly monitor search results. There are many tools to help you do this:

  • Google Alerts: Add your brand, name, websites, or keywords and get alerts whenever new content about that topic is added to Google Search or Google News results.
  • Talkwalker Alerts: This free Google Alerts alternative monitors news sites, blogs, Twitter, and even discussion forums for any mention of your brand. Receive realtime, daily, or weekly alerts.
  • Mention: For a monthly fee, Mention will monitor all major social media channels and provide analysis and reports on where your brand stands in the social community.
  • Awario: Awario monitors both social media and the entire web for any mention of your brand. Not only does it provide alerts, but it also includes an analytics tool that reveals whether those mentions are positive or negative. Awario comes with a small monthly price tag for a starter package, with a more expensive enterprise option.
  • IFTTT: This free, cloud-based automation suite lets you use social, news and website triggers for alerts or automated reports whenever your brand gets mentioned online.

Check Your Brand Health

There are tools available that will show you where your brand online reputation stands.

  • The Brand Grader: This free tool reviews comments by the web's top influencers and gives you a brief "report card" that shows mentions, a pie chart of negative vs. positive mentions, and the volume of mentions over time.
  • Brandwatch: This software performs brand-reputation analysis and reports on millions of conversations taking place across the internet about your brand. The suite of software includes modules that provide only the types of analytics and reports you want.
Brand Grader analysis report

Use Aggressive SEO Techniques

With Google search results, your goal should be to improve the placement of sites that mention your brand in a positive light and push down those that mention it negatively. There are several ways you can do this:

  • Generate positive content: Entice bloggers or news journalists on high-authority sites to cover your brand in a positive light. Pitch story ideas to those influential writers.
  • Offer interviews: Offer to do interviews with bloggers and journalists who are open to writing about your brand.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising: You may notice that paid ad listings show up at the top of some search results. Purchase PPC advertising for your brand name and related industry keywords and direct those clicks to your own positive content about your brand.
  • Publish your own content: Well-written, authoritative articles about your brand will show up high in Google search results. Make sure you have a blog and include company or personal profile pages that mention your brand several times.

Publishing your own profiles around the web on high-authority sites doesn't only work well for companies. It's also a great way for individuals to create positive information about you for potential employers to discover when they Google your name.

If you run across a negative website that publishes false information about your business, you may have grounds to launch a legal case. This would involve a cyber investigation to identify who published the content, and legal takedown requests to remove the offending content.

Handle Your Social Media Carefully

Social media sites provide you with tools to build a positive online reputation proactively. This is why social media is often seen as one of the most powerful weapons in your online reputation management arsenal. Because it's so proactive, it's very easy to make mistakes and actually damage your online reputation rather than improve it.

Keep in mind the following advice:

  • Be open to customer criticism and feedback.
  • Use transparency when informing your customers or audience of big company decisions.
  • Be quick to respond to anyone who complains about your brand, and invite one-on-one communication via private, direct messages.
  • Ask your followers for feedback and opinions so the public feels like they have ownership in improving your online reputation.
  • Always be polite, and avoid responding negatively to any criticism.
  • Establish a company policy discouraging employees from sharing company information via their own social media accounts.

The worst thing you can do is create a social media account and then never update it. So only create accounts that you have the resources available to update frequently.

Screenshot of

Purchase Display Ads

Another way to get positive mentions about your brand on social media is to purchase display ads.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat are the largest social media platforms that sell advertising. In most cases, these ads look like regular posts.

This ad space may cost money, but it gives you an opportunity to put positive mentions about you or your brand on social media.

Create these ads carefully. Ads that offend or insult users could result in an onslaught of negative comments, which could backfire and hurt your online reputation.

Social media advertising on Facebook example.

Monitor Your Social Media Efforts

Don't leave your work on social media to chance. Almost all platforms provide excellent user analytics for businesses and other advertisers.

These analytics dashboards provide amazing insight into the demographics and interests of your followers.

Use this information to improve the quality of your social posts and advertising efforts. This can help you target the core audience that makes up most of your potential customers.

Twitter user analytics dashboard

Watch Those Online Reviews

Because so many people use online reviews to decide who they want to do business with, managing your brand mentions on those review sites is critical.

Ignoring reviews is a very bad idea. Almost every industry lets your customers and clients provide feedback. For example, Tripadvisor lets hotel guests leave detailed reviews to help travelers choose a hotel. Google Reviews lets people rate everything from hotels and car dealerships to restaurants and stores. Amazon is a popular place for electronics and other product reviews.

Monitor the sites where your clients or customers most commonly leave reviews, and respond to as many of those as you can.

Tips for responding to reviews to improve your online reputation:

  • Don't ignore criticism.
  • Never attack the reviewer.
  • Apologize for a poor experience and offer some form of compensation or assistance if you can.
  • Always be polite.

If you're not sure where to find reviews that mention your brand, use review-monitoring services to find them. Some examples include:

  • Go Fish Digital: This full-service online reputation-management service will monitor and report on your online reputation, including mentions on complaint websites.
  • Reputology: This service focuses primarily on monitoring review sites for you, and offers tools for quickly responding to those reviews.
  • ReviewTrackers: This software helps you find and monitor reviews about your brand.

Work toward achieving at least a 4-star rating on top review sites. This will be partially accomplished by how you respond to negative reviews and by taking feedback into account and improving so that you receive fewer overall negative reviews.

Screenshot of a typical Tripadvisor review