In today's internet-centric world, online reputation is everything. For businesses, it's how potential customers will decide whether or not to buy a product. For bloggers, it's what determines how fast and how big a site will grow. And for everyone, brand or blogger, shopper or seller, it's too important an issue to overlook. But how do you know when your name is in trouble?
Below, consider these top-warning signs that your online reputation is in danger.
Unwanted information in first-page search results
If you care at all about your online reputation, you should be monitoring your name and/or brand in search results. What comes up will reveal at least a part of your online reputation. If unwanted information appears -- whether irrelevant, overly personal, or compromising -- your online reputation is in danger. So here's how to know if that's the case.
Go to Google or Bing or another search engine, enter your name (and all variations of your name), and see what comes up. Ideally, you want the first few pages of these results to be positive information, the kind that benefits your reputation. If unwanted links come up instead, it's a big warning sign.
Set up alerts
Not many people have time to be searching themselves on search engines all day, and that's where alerts come in handy. With tools like Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts, you can set up automatic alerts that will notify you anytime your keywords (i.e., your name and/or brand) come up in search results. This way, when something undesirable about you lands in search results, you know right away.
Bad testimonials on blogs, review sites, or social media
There are few things as powerful as a good referral -- except maybe a bad one. Bad press is hard to recover from, and when previous clients or readers go around telling the internet about your bad service or lack of quality, bad press is exactly what you're getting. This means your reputation is in trouble. So with that in mind, here are a few ways to stay aware of and know how to respond to what's being said about your name online.
Engage on social media
The best way to overpower bad press is to create lots of good press, both on your own website and on social media. Get your voice out there on social networks in order to build a strong voice for your brand online.
Respond to complaints
Redeem negative press by responding to it publicly -- and by doing so in a way that's gracious, honest, and helpful. Other visitors who see the bad press will also see your responses, and this will minimize the damage.
Search engines and social media aren't the only places to search for warning signs about your online reputation. In fact, before you get too comfortable, make sure you're looking at yourself. It's your own online activity that has some of the greatest impact on your internet reputation. So to look for warning signs that something's wrong, ask yourself the following questions:
- When was the last time I blogged? Are my posts consistent?
- Is my online activity consistent with the brand message I'm trying to convey?
- Would someone know what I offer simply by looking at my website, blog, or social media profile?
- Am I easy to contact?
- Do I respond to questions, emails, blog comments, etc.?
By asking yourself these questions, you begin looking at the ways you could be damaging your online reputation without even realizing it.
Do you know what your online reputation says about you? Are there warning signs you haven't noticed until now? Do something about them today -- because there are few things more valuable than your good name.
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