Online Reputation Management: 7 Things You Should Do Right Now

Protect your online presence with these actions

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Whether you own a large corporation or you're an individual looking to build a strong online presence, establishing strategic online reputation management is critical.

What Is Online Reputation Management?

Think about all of the ways you learn about a business or a person online. You Google them, you review social media comments about them, and you browse online reviews.

When people want to learn about you or your business, these are all of the ways they look for information. The people looking for information about you or your brand could be potential business prospects, new customers, or potential clients.

The key to successful online reputation management is managing all of these outlets of information about your brand.

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.

One of the primary places people search for information about you online is using the Google search engine. According to searchenginepeople.com, 75% of users never click past the first page of search results. This means that what shows up on the first page of search results is critical to your online reputation.

Screenshot of a search result for monsanto

Many things can contribute to a bad online reputation in search results:

  • Negative news articles about you or your company.
  • Blog posts mentioning your brand alongside words like "scam" or "ripoff."
  • Bad reviews about you, your product, or your services.
  • Attack websites created to discredit you or your brand.

While negative content is always a threat, there's a lot you can do with search engine optimization (SEO) to reduce the impact of that threat, or remove it entirely.

  1. Regularly monitor search results. There are many tools available that will alert you whenever anyone publishes anything about your brand online.

    • 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 also 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.
    The Google Alerts tool website
  2. Check your brand health. There are tools available that will show you where your brand online reputation stands.

    • The Brand Grader: This free tool, provided by Mention, 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 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 type of analytics and reports you want.
    A screenshot of the Brand Grader analysis report
  3. Use aggressive SEO techniques. Each page of Google results has roughly ten items listed. 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 that.

    • 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 write 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 even for an individual to create positive information about you for potential employers to discover when they Google your name.

    Screenshot of SEO content on Google
  4. The worst case scenario is that you can't quicky outrank very negative websites. But if those sites are "attack" sites publishing false information about your business, you may have grounds to launch a legal case against the publisher of that content. This would involve a cyber investigation to identify the person who published the content, and legal takedown requests to remove the offending content.

Negative content about your brand in search results can be very damaging for your online reputation, but as you can see there are plenty of options to either remove the content or reduce the impact it has on your online reputation.

Keep an Eye on Social Media

In addition to monitoring social media using the services listed above, social media provides you with tools you can use to proactively build a positive online reputation.

This is why social media is often seen as one of the most powerful weapons in your online reputation management arsenal.

Screenshot of McDonald's social media Twitter page

Because it's so proactive, it's very easy to make mistakes and actually damage your online reputation rather than improve it.

Handle Your Social Media Carefully

The key policies to adhere to when you're trying to improve your online reputation using social media is as follows:

  • Be open to customer criticism and feedback.
  • Use transparency and use social media to inform your customers or audience of big company decisions.
  • Be quick to respond to anyone who complains about your brand, and invite 1-to-1 communications 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.

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 appear to users of those platforms like regular posts.

Screenshot of social media advertising

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.

Monitor Your Social Media Efforts

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

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

Screenshot of the Twitter user analytics dashboard

You can 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 more potential clients, customers, and audience.

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.

Screenshot of a typical Tripadvisor review

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 come form of compensation or assistance if you can.
  • Always be polite.

If you're not sure where to find reviews that mention your brand, you can use review monitoring services to find them.

  • 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 will let you find and monitor reviews about your brand.

Through your efforts, you should work toward achieving at least a 4 star rating on top review sites. This will be accomplished partially by how you respond to negative reviews, but also by taking feedback into account and improving so that you receive fewer overall negative reviews.