About a month ago, a Pew Internet and American Life project study showed that over half of Internet users have never searched for themselves online. Now they are obviously not all business owners, but I bet that statistic would still be pretty startling.
Having a good reputation is imperative to your business, and to ignore yours could be disastrous. There are a variety of steps you can take to keep a healthy rep. Let’s look at a few.
Your Own Online Presence
What better place to start working on building a positive reputation for yourself than your own site.
I’m not going to get into the principles of design, but suffice it to say, have a well-designed site. This includes characteristics like usability and accessibility.
Commenting on blog posts that relate to your niche is a great way to get quality links back to your site.
Positive comments are always encouraged, but there are times when you might not agree with what is being said and may feel obliged to contribute your 2 cents. In these cases, do NOT be rude. It will only make you look bad and reflect poorly on your business. Remember, there is a good chance what you write will stay out there in cyberspace for an eternity waiting to come up in a search for your company or name.
Only leave thoughtful, constructive feedback no matter how tempted you may be to cuss someone out. Mariella at Desperate Curiosity has a good post on this subject.
Social Media Friends
Think of your parents telling you to stay away from the bad crowds. Who knew this would turn out to be sound business advice? If you use MySpace or Facebook or any other social network, try to keep friends that don’t make you look bad.
A potential customer finding your MySpace page where you are interacting with vulgar drug-users for example, may just seek what they are looking for elsewhere. As marketing consultant Matt Bailey’s Grandmother used to say, “Your’e known by the company you keep”.
Too Late for All of That
So maybe it’s too late, you’ve already gone and made a mess of your reputation doing God knows what. Don’t stress too much. There are steps you can take to recover it. Andy Beal covers this extensively in a must-read article for anyone with a tarnished online reputation.
If you keep a positive online reputation, you will not only gain customers directly, your brand will gain word of mouth from any number of people on the net. Do you have an online reputation horror story to share? How about a happy one?