When you’re building a brand on the Internet through a blog, a solid reputation is of utmost importance. It doesn’t matter if your brand is a charity, a new product, or simply labeling yourself an expert on a certain topic — that brand can be considered a small business and a small business’s reputation makes a difference between success and failure.

In the age of social media, most bloggers know it’s easy to share too much information about yourself or your business, even when it’s done inadvertently. But it’s harder to manage other people sharing too much about you or your brand, whether they post pictures of you on Facebook without your knowledge or write a negative review on a website.

Take a few steps to protect your small business reputation by monitoring it online.

Do a Google Search

Search for your name, your blog name, and/or your business name regularly in Google. This can catch a mention of your business or product on a website you might never have seen, such as another person’s blog. Do an image search, too, to see what pops up.

You can also set up a Google Alert for your name or business name; the service sends you an email every time it pops up online. Adjust the settings to receive daily or weekly notifications, if you prefer.

There are other service providers, too, such as Reputation.com, which can help monitor your online reputation and remove any negative mentions.

Monitor Online Reputation
Monitor your online reputation by frequently entering your name or blog name in a search engine.

Reserve Your Online Presence

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Grab all the appropriate URLs — which have become ultra-cheap these days; you can pay as little as $5-$10 per domain — as well as email addresses and other accounts that could be associated with your brand, even opening associated Gmail/Yahoo mail accounts, Pinterest accounts, and Facebook accounts.

You might not actively use these accounts at first, but it’s better to prevent someone else from using them under your brand’s name. However, you should put a little effort into creating a respectable website on your related domain name, whether it includes information about you or your product, as well as a link to your blog.

Make Your Online Presence Stronger

While you might not use all available websites to their best ability at first, you’ll eventually want to optimize your presence on these sites. For example, LinkedIn allows you to edit the URL of your public profile, as does Facebook, so it reads www.linkedin.com/in/YOURBRANDHERE rather than a string of random letters and numbers. You should always use your full, real name and link to your blog — this will make these results appear higher in search results.

React to Comments

There are more places than ever for an unhappy consumer to damage your online reputation. Whether it’s writing a negative comment on your blog, tweeting out an unfavorable remark, or writing an unhappy review on an aggregate website, the comments must be responded to rather than pretending they don’t exist.

Respond quickly, even if it’s just a matter of saying, “We’re looking into the problem; thank you for notifying us,” or “We’re sorry you were unhappy with our product. We hope you give us a second chance.” If you can follow it up with more information later, do so — but don’t miss the chance to engage quickly and politely with your consumers, as this is a key tactic of managing your online reputation.

In an ideal world, your online reputation will be spic and span. However, in reality, the only way to maintain a pristine online reputation — or, at least, as pristine as possible — is to continually monitor it and make adjustments to your small business marketing strategy.

Kelsey Castle is a freelance writer, editor and blogger who Googles herself regularly. She is also a public relations and marketing expert who employs these tactics regularly for her own brand, as well as nonprofit clients.

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