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The Internet has served to connect billions of people worldwide, in ways that few of us would have envisioned just 20 or 30 years ago. Its ease of accessibility allows anyone to get online and upload blog articles, photos, comments and more. However, that ease of use can make you a target of people who would like to sully your reputation, perhaps bringing harm to your business and costing you money.

There are ways you can manage your reputation and return to its once spotless state or something close to it. Some matters you can handle on your own, but there are a few things you can settle with the help of a reputation manager.

1. Track Internet Chatter

People may be talking about you online, but you may not learn about these conversations until well after the fact. By then, it can be too late to salvage your reputation.

Google allows you to monitor the web for new content, enabling you to set up alerts that are sent to your email inbox. Learn what people are saying about you, your products or services, and keep up with news about a competitor or industry. Simply enter a query that interests you and wait for Google to send alerts to your inbox. You can then visit each link to see what people are saying about you or your company.

2. Respond With Care

Words said about you may be correct or they can be wrong, even damaging. Now what do you do? First, you want to evaluate what is being said to see if someone is uttering an opinion or making a comment. Much chatter is harmless and should be overlooked. Second, if you find something has been said that is incorrect, contact the person who made the comment and politely set the record straight.

Most people with a reputation of their own to preserve will listen to have what you say and will take positive action. They may modify what they said or allow you to express your own opinion on their site. For instance, if a person is unhappy with your customer service, you can apologize and offer to remedy the problem. That last step alone can go far in salvaging a potentially damaging report about you.

3. Tell Your Story

You can’t always persuade someone to change what they said about you, but you can offset what has been said with a response of your own. Such a response should be measured, considerate and cover all the facts.

For instance, if someone accused you of not fact checking your story, you can write a rebuttal and post it to your blog or website. You’ll need to answer each charge one by one and give a coherent response that outlines your position. You might also link to the offending article and explain to your readers that you attempted to rectify the problem directly. Sensible people will read your explanation and evaluate what you said based on the facts.

4. Build Relationships Online

The Internet is one huge community with numerous sub-communities scattered hither and yon. You can’t join every community, but you can participate in those that have special meaning for you.

Your participation will ensure that you’re a known voice, if not an expert in your field. You’ll connect with other like-minded people and be able to gauge who the moves and shakers are in your industry. Your consistent contact with people on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other sites such as a forum or blog will build your reputation. It will also give you numerous sets of eyes to alert you if trouble is brewing.

5. Manage the Search Engines

Is it possible to manage Google, Bing and the other search engines? It not only is possible, but it should be on your list of things to do. The key here are the search engine results pages or SERPs, a big thing with Google and Bing as with the others. However, Google has about two-thirds of the search engine traffic, so you’ll start there.

Managing the search engines means evaluating your personal name, your company name or other phrases to see what shows up when people enter these keywords. Usually, you won’t have a problem here, but you can run into trouble if something negative pops up particularly on page one of the results. This can mean almost anything such as a negative review of your services, an unfavorable article about you personally, misinformation about your products or services and more. You’ll know what the problems are by visiting the SERPs and evaluating the results.

You may not be able to get rid of a negative report, but you can have it buried several pages in the SERPs, effectively making the report invisible to mostly everyone except for the rare individual that looks past the third or fourth page of the results. To do this, you’ll open accounts at dozens of sites such as Digg, Reddit, Facebook and HubPages and build profiles on those sites. Advises Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People, “The profile name should be the exact term/phrase that the negative piece is ranking for.” Once you’re done, the negative information should be buried within a few days.

Conclusion

Of course, some of the methods mentioned here are time consuming, which is why busy executives seek out the services of a reputation management company to handle these matters for them. You can still monitor your alerts, but when the big guns are needed, a skilled reputation manager can handle the messy jobs for you.

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Posted by Anita Everhart

Anita Everhart is a professional blogger that gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice. She writes for OrganicSEOCompany.com, a nationally recognized Organic SEO Company that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.

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