Everyone knows that a reputation can get you far in business because people like to know that the odds are in their favor. A company with a good reputation has a better chance of being successful and helpful if something goes wrong, so reputation is usually a sure thing for consumers looking to make a purchasing decision. However, what many companies don’t realize is that creating a good reputation isn’t as easy as simply being a good company. Because online shopping, online communication, and online advertising have become such a large aspect of business, reputation is harder to manage. Lots of different things happen on the Internet, so it is now the job of the company to manage this reputation. In other words, a reputation will no longer simply come from word of mouth. It’s something to be created and managed. Fortunately, it’s not difficult if you start early.

Aspects of an Online Reputation and How to Manage Each

An online reputation is tricky because people often turn to the Internet when it comes time to research and time to complain. This is a lethal combination for many businesses, which makes management incredibly important. A few places you need to manage your online reputation include:

  • Social Media. This is the most obvious area when it comes to online reputation management. Social media includes every type of social network where you can connect with others and include profile information. It’s more than just Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+; it’s StumbleUpon, Digg, MySpace, Reddit, and many more (even if you aren’t active anymore).

How to Manage: The easiest way to manage your social media reputation is to remain active and have someone in charge of updating and responding to everything that is said on those accounts. Start by first going through your social media accounts and completely deleting those where you are not active. This will ensure that nothing negative is being said and nothing spammy is being associated with your site without you realizing it right away. Then focus your energy on the networks you do keep up-to-date and make sure you’re always responding to any angry customers as well as updating positive content. Also search for the name of your company from time to time to see if anything is being said anywhere else.

  • Link Building. Link building is a great way to make sure that the positive things being said about your company are showing up at the top of a Google search engine results page (SERP). The more positive links that you can build, the better chance you have of not only managing your reputation, but also creating it.

How to Manage: A great way to get started with positive link building is through guest posting. Submit a guest post, link back to your website, and then record that link and continue to check back and make sure the link remains in tact. Also consider using the new Google disavow links tool in order to get rid of negative links pointing to your website.

  • Company Mentions. If your company is ever mentioned online by another company or individual, you should know about it and get in on the discussion!

How to Manage: Setting up Google Alerts makes it easy to see when your company is mentioned online. This service is free and allows you to setup an email service that sends you a message each time your company name (or whatever query you’re interested in tracking) is mentioned online. You can decide how often you want these emails, what types of results you want (news, blogs, videos, everything, etc.) and whether you want all results or only the best results. You can visit here to get started.

  • Content Creation. Part of managing an online reputation is making sure that every piece of content you put out online is quality and relevant. Be posting for readers and not for search engines.

How to Manage: Manage your content creation by hiring quality writers who really understand your industry. Put a lot of thought into who you are hiring, and make sure that you put content at the top of your priority list. Read everything that is going to be published on your website or hiring someone you trust to do so.

Why Managing An Online Reputation Matters

One of the biggest advantages to having a positive online reputation is the fact that it goes a long way if something goes wrong. In other words, it works well as a defense. No company is perfect, so when your company makes a mistake, a solid online reputation will help ensure that you can recover quickly from this mistake. This is the easiest way for people to come to the conclusion “it’s just me.”

On a related note, it helps to keep a reputation in tact even when nothing goes wrong. Some people are unfortunately cruel and will publish untrue things about certain companies for various reasons—competition, personal attacks, random acts, etc. If your company has zero online management, you won’t have anything to use when it comes time to defend your company (or for people to make a decision about your company in the first place). Manage your reputation, and problem solved.