In the past, a person’s reputation was based on their actions. Today’s generation is judged largely by how they are represented online. This is especially true for professionals who rely on the Internet – and specifically social media – to run their businesses and generate income for their families. A poor image online can equal disaster in real life.


The following are a few simple and easy ways to jump-start an online reputation management campaign.

Social Media

Like the bathhouses of ancient Rome, virtual gathering grounds like Facebook and Twitter are today’s portals for news, information and gossip. Social media sites are an absolute priority for those seeking to establish their brand online. Pages should be updated regularly and offer information that fans/followers can really use. Posts should always be positive, interesting and include keywords relevant to the business.

Content

Content is the undeniable crown jewel of online reputation management. Content – in the form of blog posts, articles, press releases, etc. – is what search engines look for when determining the strength of a query result. Essentially, the content is what makes a site interesting to the search algorithm. Internet content should be well-written and truly appeal to the reader. However, to increase its visibility to the web crawlers that direct it to the search engine results pages, it should be keyword rich without sounding like spam.  Site owners should confirm their content is unique and check periodically for plagiarism though a service such as CopyScape, which is user-friendly and inexpensive.

Tools

Maintaining an online reputation management campaign is a labor-intensive process. Fortunately, for those less-than-tech-savvy entrepreneurs, there are many tools available online to help simplify the process. Those with a limited budget can benefit from free applications such as Google Alerts, which allows the user to monitor the web for specific keyword terms. Business owners can also find a number of free and paid services that provide the opportunity to update all social media at once.

Domains

Many business owners rack their brains trying to decide between a “.com” or “.net” domain name. The best choice is to simply buy them all. Domains are inexpensive, often costing less than $13 for a one-year registration. Many domain providers, such as GoDaddy, offer a discount for bulk orders and domain registration that extends beyond one year. It’s important to “own your name” when planning an online reputation management campaign. Without having legal rights to all sites bearing a similar business name, it would be very simple for a disgruntled customer or rival business to wreak havoc on one’s online reputation.

Technicalities

In order for a webpage to maintain maximum visibility it should not only be written properly and with an adequate saturation of keywords, but must also be anchored online correctly. Meta-tags (invisible page descriptors) should be a proper length and relevant to the posted content. All incoming and outgoing links should redirect properly. This includes images as well as text.

An online reputation management campaign can be either proactive or reactive. The latter is the least desirable and those businesses who maintain their online presence from the beginning are likely to suffer less damage during a reputation crisis.

About the Author: Blake Jonathan Boldt is a content strategist for Reputation Advocate. He provides writing, editing, social media and content strategy services for both domestic and international clients. His articles have been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers and digital media outlets.

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