I get asked this question quite a bit by potential clients, especially ones with little or no online presence. I inevitably get the response, “Eh, who cares what people think of me online anyway?” My response: “Everyone.”

The general public has an inherent trust in Google, and therefore what they perceive Google is saying about you. If you don’t think clients are doing more research about your company online, you’d better think again. According to PCMag.com, around 58% of all consumers are now researching products or services in depth online before pulling the trigger. If your product or service happens to be a high-value item, the report is even grimmer for your industry. Research indicates that about 88% of those researchers were college-educated and making over $75,000 per year.

Investment bankers, auto dealers, diamond retailers, and other high-value services have the strongest need to protect their reputations. I’ve seen company after company get nearly wiped out by negative articles, reviews, and posts online – regardless of the reliability or legitimacy.

While very important and often overlooked, reputation management is not a small venture. The process includes identifying negative articles across the web, finding the key phrases with the highest search volume, and then finally suppressing them. Suppression can be done through a few techniques, but usually requires conducting 10 or more simultaneous off-page SEO campaigns for positive sites and articles regarding the keyword. In some cases, these web properties must be created and managed, making the process even more difficult.

A good way to start managing your online reputation is to set up Google keyword alerts to notify you when a new property is indexed related to your company name, owner name, or product name. When you see these alerts, it’s important to take action quickly to protect yourself since time is a factor in the SEO process that can’t be changed.

2012-05-08T00:03:37+00:00