Know Who’s Talking About You
The first rule of Internet reputation management is to know who is saying what about you online. You can’t fix a negative situation if you don’t know something is wrong, so it’s important to set up reporting tools that track online mentions of you.
Google’s newest option for this is the “Me on the Web” section of the Google dashboard that lets you set up alerts for keywords or phrases in your Google profile. Name, email address, website URL, or other keywords can be tagged so that you get a daily email that reports findings for you to review.
Also be sure to check mentions of you in social media like Twitter or Facebook daily.
Nothing but raves about you? Then do nothing or send a great big thank you to the writer. This is the case more often than not, but if Google does flag unflattering or, worse yet, derogatory information, you can take offensive steps.
Removing Unwanted Content
Most people don’t realize it’s possible to remove unwanted content from cyberspace. You can take down an entire page that has been compromised, which will remove it from all Google search results. If the page is important to the overall site, then replace it by renaming it. A similar but different name will do the trick.
More complicated is removing unsavory content from someone else’s site. Google will intervene if there are legal grounds or if sensitive personal information is compromised. You can also appeal the search giant to stop showing outdated content if a website has removed information but the web crawler has not been active on the page recently.
Unfortunately, social media sites like Twitter only allow you to remove your own tweets. So getting a negative tweeter to take down something you don’t like requires more finesse.
Going on the Offensive
An easy way to override negative information on the Internet is to create even more that’s positive. Get colleagues to write glowing reviews or guest posts on your blog, but don’t stop there. Be sure those great comments are reiterated via Twitter and Facebook posts since more and more search engines like Google include social media references in their results.
If the negative comments are from real customers, be sure to address all concerns head on, and fix problems if possible. Go the extra mile, give refunds or coupons for next purchase, and most importantly, show you really care. You’ll be surprised that customers will voluntarily take down comments written in frustration if you just ask nicely. After all, they are now satisfied customers since you responded quickly and effectively.
With a little bit of planning, an Internet reputation management program either done yourself or via companies like Beanstalk or Reputation.com (let’s not be too biased to ourselves here ) can turn potential online disasters into opportunities.
About The Author: Sarah Boisvert is a freelance writer who focuses on a variety of business issues such as social media and email marketing.