you can resolve things before it reaches a point where a customer believes they can only get satisfaction through a public forum or feels they ought to warn people about your business. The internet has made it so the barriers between one customer and another are far reduced ó word-of-mouth can now travel almost literally at the speed of light!Having the best local rankings in your area may not help your

business if your reputation has been trashed.

But, if youíve prepared and planned for how to handle online criticism of your company, the impact of one or two complaints can be much reduced, and you may be better able to respond effectively and rapidly to minimize monetary impact.
You Canít Opt Out Of Reputation Management

For many small businesses, the complete lack of proactive reputation management leaves them in the position of a sitting duck. With little more than just a website to represent you online, youíre in a precarious position if anyone creates a site to target you or even just posts something on social media, as those items could rank for your business name searches. For established local businesses, people may frequently be searching for you by business name ó so, having bad stuff rank in branded search results can directly impact your bottom line.
Online reputation management and repair has been a burgeoning segment of online marketing for years. My company has worked on numerous cases of reputation repair, and itís quite clear to me that if a business doesnít invest in developing their online presence and reputation proactively, they will more than likely pay considerable costs later in terms of lost revenues, repairing abrupt damage, and developing out the presence they neglected.
For businesses tied closely to the identities of their proprietors/founders, the names of their executives may be another area of reputation that needs to be managed proactively. Iíve run across a good many executives who desire to keep a low profile and thus have avoided all forms of social media out of a desire for privacy. Again, with zero assets built around the executiveís name, they may be a sitting duck for some reputation damage the instant someone decides to take them down a notch.
Perhaps the only thing worse than under-engaging in online media is handling social media badly. No one can damage you as seriously as you can damage yourself if you donít know what youíre doing. Entrepreneurs and small business employees sometimes develop a major case of hubris ó perhaps because those operating small businesses have to be jacks-of-all-trades to some degree just to be able to run a small business effectively.
But, knowing how to create a great product and being able to do all the things necessary to successfully manage and run a small business doesnít automatically make you an effective communicator in the internet space.
With these concepts in mind, here are 10 professional tips for your online reputation management.
1. Create A Presence On Any And All Relevant Web Properties

Your company should already have Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ accounts, at minimum. If youíre in a highly competitive market and vertical, you may need to be active on some additional social media sites, as well ó there are dozens available, some of which may be specific to your industry.
For many B2B, high-tech and/or professional types of businesses, having executives and employees integrate with LinkedIn may be valuable. For visually-oriented products, using Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr may be needed. And, most businesses will benefit from some number of videos shared through sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.
2. Donít Neglect Your Social Media Accounts

Itís important to build out your social media accounts. Merely having a Twitter, Facebook and Google+ account/page for your business is insufficient ó you need to develop your audience on them, too. With ongoing development, you can build your social media accounts in order to interact with customers and to increase your influence and engagement scores.
If you donít do this, those accounts may not be strong enough to outrank the postings if someone begins to post negative things. While we donít know precisely how Google and Bing may assess the strength of social media accounts, you can use some independent scoring utilities to assess whether youíre achieving growth. Two of the better-known ones are Klout and Kred.
3. Consider Your Brands And Products

You may need to build out online materials and social profiles for more than just your company name. If you have brand and product names beyond your company name, you likely ought to develop content to rank for those names as well. You may need to develop websites, web pages, social media profiles and collateral materials just to claim and reserve each brand name.

4. Protect Individuals Associated With The Business

Develop a strong social media presence for your foundersí, ownersí, or executivesí names, particularly if they are distinctive. As I described above, keeping a low online profile to preserve your privacy just leaves you wide open for any drive-by defamers!
There are quite a few businesses where the companyís identity is fairly entangled with their executives, and a solid reputation management strategy is vital for these. Consumers often search by name for doctors, dentists, and lawyers (to name a few), so create collateral to rank for these individuals if they donít already have any.

5. Implement Authorship Where Applicable

I declared Authorship to be my top marketing tactic of 2013, and itís still a significant advantage when done properly. This is primarily for businesses where a founder/proprietor is closely associated with the businessís identity. Google requires authors to be individuals; thus, the author tag must be associated with an individual Google+ profile, not with a business page.

Using the author tag assumes youíll be doing some ongoing publishing of articles or blog posts over time or else itís not worthwhile ó which leads us to the next point.
6. Blog

Iím serious! Iíve called blogging a secret weapon for local SEO because it helps with a siteís rankings on good keywords (if done properly) and provides fodder for oneís social media accounts.
For reputation purposes, it not only can rank for your name, it can give you a solid ďhome courtĒ ground where you can directly respond to any major assertions made about your company if necessary.
7. Listen

When responding to online complaints or bad reviews, seriously consider that there may be some weaknesses in your process that need to be addressed ó particularly if you get frequent negative feedback about a specific thing. Remember the adage that ďthe customer is always rightĒ? Donít be inflexible; come up with a creative way to give customers what theyíre wanting without creating friction.
Iíve seen business processes that just seemed dumb, or service fees that just made customers feel like theyíve been gouged. Just because you can pressure people into paying more doesnít mean that you should. Consider that you could be driving existing or potential customers into the arms of your competitor. The extra money you make on that annoying fee could be cancelled out by business lost from those who see numerous complaints about it online.
8. Apologize

If you or your company messes up, fails or otherwise does something wrong, own up to it ó and make a genuine apology to those who have been affected. Being real and transparent in apologizing can go far toward diffusing a situation and moving the process along toward reconciliation or, at least, toward making a crisis situation come to a close.
If you do it, make sure the apology is authentic ó donít do one of those weaselly, ďIím sorry you allowed my actions to make you feel badĒ statements that are disingenuous nonsense. Also, try to make amends in some way, unconditionally.
9. Donít Get Into Online Arguments

Itís very easy to get sucked into this ó but even if youíre technically right, you might lose out overall by just coming across as petty, harsh or unprofessional. Worse yet, you might actually be wrongÖ and once you get emotionally riled up, you could end up saying and doing things that damage your reputation. (For a dramatic example, read about the epic Facebook meltdown of a husband-wife restaurateur team.)
The best approach is to diffuse situations and take communications offline to try to reconcile. Be nicer in your online interactions than you even think you need to be. Your professional responses may win more customers than being ďrightĒ in an online disagreement. Feel yourself getting drawn into escalating conflict? Walk away from your computer.
10. Make The Investment

Reputation development requires an investment, both in time and money. Most small, local businesses are either ignoring proactive reputation management or they are doing it themselves, on a shoestring, and on an as-needed and as-they-have-time-to-do-it basis.
Iíd argue that social media and proactive reputation management should be considered vital elements, not nice-to-haves. Further, if you donít have experience in interacting with online communities, doing it yourself may not be good enough or may exacerbate any issues that can arise. So, make the investment ó and if you donít have the time to do it, donít know how, or just arenít getting the job done, hire someone to handle it for you.
EasyMoney Reviewed by EasyMoney on . Online Reputation Management Tips For Local Businesses you can resolve things before it reaches a point where a customer believes they can only get satisfaction through a public forum or feels they ought to warn people about your business. The internet has made it so the barriers between one customer and another are far reduced ó word-of-mouth can now travel almost literally at the speed of light!Having the best local rankings in your area may not help your business if your reputation has been trashed. But, Rating: 5