Have you ever googled yourself? Type in your name, the name of your company, or the name of any of your products. Whether you get no results, get just a few mentions, or get scandalous mentions, these results represent the level of management of your online reputation.

Your online reputation is represented by what the internet says about you. Businesses with a positive online reputation can cash in on this “good publicity”, while those with a negative reputation may see their bottom line suffer. Managing your online reputation effectively, requires a strategy to establish yourself as an authoritative and credible resource in your industry. It is a deliberate move to provide the best, most positive, most relevant, and most useful results about your business at the top of a search engine result page. It’s positively influencing the impression prospective clients make about you when they search for you online.

The best strategy a company can employ is to manage its online reputation right from the beginning. However, some companies have to fight a negative onslaught after a scandal emerges, or fight negative or biased rumors that can spread online. No matter the case, here are 20 tips to manage your online reputation, and bring your name back from the brink.

1. Secure Your Brand Name

Your first step in online reputation management should be to claim your brand name. Whether you are an ordinary individual, a celebrity, a company, or an organization, you need to be in control of your name. There are services you can use to identify where your brand name and its close variations are used online.

No matter how many variations there are to your online name, you should be consistent in the name you officially identify yourself with. Use the same name for your websites, blogs, and social media accounts.

2. Manage Your Name Across Online Media

Once you have secured your brand name, open and complete your account on various platforms. For instance, you can open websites with .com, .net, .org domains in your name and have them all redirect to your main website. You should do the same by completing profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other favored platforms in your name. Your profiles should use the same names, logos, and even similar profile pictures. Prominently feature additional identifiers such as address, phone number, etc.

3. Claim Your Listings on Authority Sites

Nowadays, potential customers find businesses through local listings and review sites. Claim your name on the top listings for your industry by completing your profile. Some of these listings and online directories include the Yellow Pages, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google.

Use these profiles to positively identify your business, provide contact information, advertise products, and comment or respond to user remarks.

4. Own Your Search Results

You need to control or at least influence which keywords you rank best for. Control what search terms bring up your name in their top search engine results pages. Rank in the first 10 results for positive keywords.

5. Consistent Responses

You are in control of what you post, so ensure your message is the same across all platforms. On the other hand, you cannot control what other people say or post. However, how you respond to other people’s remarks or opinions is what builds or breaks your online reputation. Be transparent, specific, and consistent in how you address issues.

6. Cultivate Online Relationships

Social media is all about creating relationships and engaging with your networks. Your best online reputation management strategy should involve cultivating positive relationships with influencers. Influencers are authoritative voices that can speak on your behalf to drown out any negative voices.

7. Engage With Your Audience

You should adopt a head on approach when engaging with your audience. Do not keep silent on negative issues hoping they will go away by themselves. A head on approach tells your audience that you listen to their feedback and what they think matters to you.

8. Avoid Publishing Negative Content

It’s easy to turn negative when under attack. However, that would be the wrong approach. Always maintain a positive outlook even when under a vicious attack. You can either be formal or informal, depending on the circumstances, but always show that you are open to feedback and can tackle issues without fear.

9. Constant Monitoring

The key to fighting bad publicity is in nipping it in the bud. Constantly monitor conversations surrounding your industry and your brand name. This will enable you to address issues early before they get out of hand.

10. Remove Negative Content

You can’t please everyone, and someone somewhere will always have negative things to say about you. Nevertheless, there is a thin line between genuine complaints and malicious comments. If it is posted in a forum you control, such as in your blog comments, delete the inappropriate negatives.

11. Report Abuse

When such malicious comments or unverifiable claims are posted in forums that are not under your direct control, you can’t delete them. However, you can report them to the relevant site administrators or other authority and have the comments removed. This only works if your claims are genuine otherwise an appeal to gag others would backfire and ruin your reputation further.

12. Publish Great Content

What you share online can establish you as an authoritative expert or a floundering fool. Create great content and keep your audience engaged. When potential customers see how helpful you are they will be skeptical of any haters with negative messages against you.

13. Engage and Connect Like a Human

Your audience will not respond well if you come off like a faceless corporation. They want to know the values you stand for and feel the passion and dedication you have in fulfilling their needs.

14. Try Listening To Your Fans

What is your target audience interested in? Are they sports fans? Do they support a particular political orientation? On which platform do they hang out most? You need to be present and helpful in their circles.

15. Write a Blog

Social media can get too crowded or your message gets drowned out among so many other competing voices. Blogging offers a powerful way to control your message and drive the conversation surrounding your brand.

16. Expand Your Reach to New Audiences

You can use your online presence to connect with new audiences that help you build your reputation. Associating yourself with like-minded individuals and businesses, even competitors, can establish your expertise and build a positive brand name.

17. Employ Brand Ambassadors

Having reputable and authoritative figures endorse your brand is the perfect way to build on your reputation. Genuine testimonials from real clients and unpaid celebrities will greatly enhance your image.

18. Build Partnerships

Your online reputation can benefit from symbiotic partnerships with non-competing organizations. For instance, if you sell men’s suits, you can partner with a business that sells men’s shirts and deliver quality products that complement each other.

19. Encourage Fair Competition

By engaging your competitors in an open and transparent forum, you can enhance your online reputation management. It will show that you are an accepted and respected industry expert who is not shy of engaging others for the benefit of the end client.

20. Be Your Brand

They say actions speak louder than words. You need to deliver on your promises. You need to follow up your great online content with real action. People need to see that you really are what/who you claim to be.

Your Reputation Online, Matters

When it comes to building, repairing, or improving your online reputation, it’s essential to have an effective reputation management strategy to ensure the right results are getting to the eyes of your customers and fans. Using these top tips is a great way to start. If you’re feeling a little clueless, begin at tip number one, and consider the services of a professional reputation management strategist if the going gets too tough.