Online reputation management is extremely important in today’s web environment. Every customer is now a critic
and has a platform. According to Rich Gorman, what the Internet reveals about a brand has a direct, bottom-line
impact on the brand’s sales, its client retention, and even its ability to attract investors. Think about it, if you want
to learn more about a brand or service, you go online and search for reviews. Some are good, some are bad; but at
the end of the day you rely on other people’s experiences so that you don’t end up with a case of buyer’s remorse.
I’ve witnessed plenty of times as I’ve searched for certain businesses that Google populates the word “SCAM”
along with a business’ name. So yes reputation management is very heavy and can cost you a lot. Here are three
simple ways to manage your online reputation.

Know how to search and what to look for. By going to Google or Bing and conducting a thorough search for your
company name, branded terms, and trademarks is definitely a start. You want to know what people are saying
about you and how your company is listed on the engines. Ideally the top listing should be your company website.
Under that should be your social media profiles and possibly some good press. Look out for bad reviews or
consumer complaints, and even for any listings that you don’t have full control over. Such listings could ultimately
endanger your online image depending upon who posted it and how it is managed.  As mentioned before, an
overwhelming majority of consumers consult with online review sites, such as Yelp.com and TripAdvisor, before
they make any big purchase. These sites represent the new word of mouth, and your company cannot afford to
take them lightly.

Know how to clean it up. Businesses can take ownership of their reviews by signing up for review site profiles and
making sure all of the company information is thoroughly and accurately filled out. This gives you a little more
control over what is being said about you over the Internet; don’t leave it up to Google Places or a consumer to
assign a profile for you. Also, once on these review sites, be diligent to respond to customer complaints and
accolades. If you had an issue with customer service but you fired the cashier, let the complainant know that you
solved your issue and would like to earn their business back. If someone posts a 5-star review, thank them and let
them know you appreciate their kind remarks. This goes a long way in maintaining and cleaning up an online
reputation. To take it a step further, you should then look at your website, social media sites and the keywords
attached to them to make sure they all align with your brand standards and the image you wish to portray.
Everything should be lining up to portray you in the best light.

Know how to proactively do damage control. Work to cultivate positive reviews and brand-enhancing online
assets. Consistent blogging and social media posts, press releases, optimized YouTube videos—basically anything
that engages users and presents your brand as an authority will help build your online reputation. Positive online
reputations seldom happen by accident. If you want to be portrayed as a quality brand, you have to take matters
into your own hands. Also remember that what is done in person is translated online. If your company’s owner,
CEO or manager is very visible, they should be mindful of what they are giving off in public so that it doesn’t end up
on someone’s YouTube channel or Facebook post. These things are hard to erase because again, you do not own
that piece of online real estate and everybody now has a voice.