Protect Your Online Reputation

  • Protect Your Name; It's All You Have

    The Internet has become the default platform for many business and personal encounters. With that in mind, it’s more important than ever to protect your online reputation. Whether it’s in anticipation of the company you’re starting, the job you’re applying for, or the girl you’re courting, many of the same rules apply. We asked Michael Fertik, CEO of ReputationDefender.com, to run through the essentials of protecting your online reputation. ReputationDefender was launched in 2006 and works to protect the reputation and privacy of Internet users in more than 40 countries. “People are waking up to this topic across the world,” Fertik said.  “Especially small business owners and sole proprietors who use their name for their business.” Ultimately, everyone’s name has value. Here’s our seven step program for clearing your name online. Photo Credit: L. Marie
    Acceptance: The Internet Exists
  • Acceptance: The Internet Exists

    According to Fertik, the #1 mistake people make is not embracing the reality of the Internet. “The Internet is going to do good things and bad things for you, but it won’t do nothing,” he said. ”Many people use it all the time in their professional and personal lives, but imagine it does not affect their businesses. It’s here, embrace it.” Photo Credit: codiceinternet
    Claim Your Name on as Many Web sites as You Can
  • Claim Your Name on as Many Web sites as You Can

    It seems like every day, a new networking Web site pops up. It may seem silly to register an account on all of them, but the last thing you want is for someone to snatch up your name on these sites and make you look bad. “You want to make sure you reserve your name before some jerk steals it, and starts to bash you or impersonate you,” Fertik said. He refers to this situation as an “online real estate land grab.” ReputationDefender just launched a special service called PowerName (now in Beta) that will reserve your name on 50 Web sites every year for $200. If this sounds like a lot of money, consider testing out the search feature on the site. It’s free and makes it much easier to stay on top of all the start-up sites out there. Photo Credit: chrisdlugosz
    Don't Just Google Yourself All Day Long
  • Don't Just Google Yourself All Day Long

    The first sign your reputation is in the gutter is usually when you hear about it from a friend, but that’s too late. “For every person who tells you, there’s another hundred who know but are quiet,” Fertik says. So you need to be diligent in checking your name. Googling yourself is useful, but that only captures a small portion of what’s being said on the web. Fertik recommends digging through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to see what people are saying about you. For business owners, it’s important to stay on top of review sites like Yelp and CitiSearch. “Most small business owners’ reputations are made or broken in chat rooms an discussion forums,” he said. And it’s not just angry consumers you need to be concerned about; there is also a lot of business-to-business bashing taking place in these forums. Photo Credit: dannysullivan
    Don't Pick Fights
  • Don't Pick Fights

    Another big mistake people make is picking a fight with someone who is critical of you on the Internet. Fertik’s advice: “You can respond thoughtfully or ignore it, but anonymous critics buy ink by the barrel, and they love to fight. In the end, you both end up looking dirty.” On the same note, if you feel you’ve been slandered online, calling a lawyer is usually not a good move either. “The law has not caught up with the Internet. You normally don’t want to sue someone who has said something negative.” But that doesn’t mean you have to lay down and take it. Just read our next step. Photo Credit: Polina Sergeeva
    Reach Out to Bloggers
  • Reach Out to Bloggers

    “Ninety-five percent of people who review most businesses online only do so when they have something negative to say,” according to Fertik.  With that in mind, it’s crucial to reach out to satisfied customers and bloggers before your business gets flooded with too many bad reviews. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. The wrong way is to imply the customer will get a quid pro quo from writing a positive review. “The best way is to grab customers at the point of customer experience, when they are returning to your store,” Fertik said. He recommends setting up a laptop on your business counter for customers to use for reviewing purposes. Photo Credit: Mike Licht NotionsCapital
    Don't Chince on Your Website
  • Don't Chince on Your Website

    By now, most people know the importance of having a blog or website that represents you and your brand.  But in order to maximize your payoff, it’s essential that your Web site look professional. “You need to have a Web site with your name in the URL; a site with good HTML and not some crazy flash you had your cousin the computer designer code for you,” Fertik said.  It’s also important to update regularly. These principles apply for your social networking pages too.  Fertik stresses that you make a careful Facebook profile for your business, a LinkedIn account about you that also links to your company and a Twitter account that uses your business name in the account and gets updated regularly with good content. Photo Credit: Don Hankins
    When Things Get Tough, Hire A Professional
  • When Things Get Tough, Hire A Professional

    Most of the above steps are things you can do on your own. But at some point, you may watching over your cyber presence takes too much time and energy. In this case, you may want to dish out a few hundred dollars a year to get professional help. Companies like ReputationDefender can help you do a professional job setting up your Web site and make sure your business gets published in all the right places on the web. The best part – MainStreet readers can now get 20% off all products from ReputationDefender.com by clicking here! Photo Credit: Egan Snow
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