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Reputation Management is the process of shaping the perception of customers and the general public to promote, protect and defend the reputation of a business or other corporate entity. Online, the need for managing corporate reputation takes on additional significance and burden. The explosion of websites including customer rating sites, forums and the social media provides clients and consumera€™s unparalleled access and voice to their experiences, both positive and negative, regarding products and services as well as company policies and attitudes.

Online businesses that fail to pay close attention to this online dialogue will ultimately fail their customer base. As stated, the sources of comments are exploding in number. Managing small business reputation begins with understanding exactly how to monitor and be completely aware of posts about the business. When these posts are seen on the top 3 pages of Google, Yahoo and Bing, you can be certain that they are being seen by many online. So, awareness is the first order of business and knowing how to stay aware is where it starts. Ideally, you want to manage your small business reputation proactively by consistently keeping your business in front of the public. The most effective means to do this is through the consistent application and strategies involved in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO is mainly understood to be those online processes designed to achieve high rankings for relevant keywords and phrases on the major search engines. A major process in SEO is the continual addition, indexation and syndication of new content (articles, press releases, blog posts, videos, etc). While this is great for SEO, it also is great for Reputation Management because it continually increases your authority quotient in the eyes of the readers and in the eyes of the search engines. Your web pages gain visibility, particularly over time. With visibility and authority gaining all the time, your reputation is enhanced. However, it I also works to proactively deal with negative comments that may be posted in a forum, social or commenting site. By continually adding and syndicating new content, you are continually raising the bar for negative comments to become visible. 68% of all searchers dona€™t go past the first page of Google; 98% dona€™t go past page 3. Thata€™s 30 spots. By diligently adding content through a well coordinated SEO strategy, your online reputation is both enhanced and even insulated against negative or even smearing attacks online.

However, if you are not actively engaged in SEO and you become aware of negative or even malicious comments, Small Business Reputation Management must involve intensive and reactive measures Comments and posts remain a part of cyberspace indefinitely, creating an even greater need for addressing especially difficult comments and posts. Particularly damaging posts must be addressed directly, the ones that cannot be addressed otherwise must be made to effectively disappear. Poor reviews, customer complaints and competitor smear comments must be vigorously dealt with. Reputation Management processes first work to remove and / or refute negative posts and publicity as you would do in the a€?real world.a€? However, it is often necessary, and urgent, to effectively compete with and push down i.e. make less visible those negative comments. This can only be done through aggressive and exhaustive implementation of great content that will be seen in the eyes of Google as even more relevant to the keyword or phrase being searched. Where an effective SEO campaign, by definition is designed to outpoint any negativity by being more relevant / dominant on the search engines, Reputation Management needs to be urgently aggressive in the absence of an in-place SEO strategy.

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