google reputation managementEver Googled your business? If not, ever been worried about what might pop up?

Chances are, even the best businesses in the world have a few disgruntled customers, and unless you want those people ruining your online reputation overnight with negative reviews, here’s what you need to do.

Prevent don’t cure

If the worst happens and someone writes a slanderous – or even worse an anonymous – review, if you’re prepared, you should be fine. But if you haven’t done anything to protect yourself, well, you face a long, uphill battle.

So the best time to start preparing for the worst is now. Not next week – immediately. The quicker the better.

Use trusted Google properties

From time to time, we’ve all seen Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages show up near the top of Google. The reason being is simple. Googletruststhose websites (especially YouTube).

Here’s how to use that fact to your advantage:

First off, create a page for your product, service or business on each of these major websites. Now it’s important to take your time to do this properly. Fill out all the information you can, connect with your customers or fans, get natural Facebook likes, get lots of LinkedIn connections, get lots of views to your YouTube videos and lots of Twitter followers.

If you’re setting up a Wikipedia page for your business, do this very carefully.

Follow their guidelines and don’t do anything “salesy”. Wikipedia is not an advertisement for your business; it’s an information resource. Write it just like any other entry and you should be fine. Also, use an anonymous profile. Whatever you do, don’t let Wikipedia know that you, the business owner, is creating the entry for your business.

You may have to set up a few other pages first before doing this, to get them to trust you. But believe me, in the end, the result is more than worth it, because Wikipedia is so powerful in Google.

Focus on YouTube

There’s no doubt in my mind that Google favors YouTube in their search results. Time and time again I’ve seen their videos ranked right at the top and in some cases, all over page 1.

Which makes sense. After all, YouTube traffic is worth a lot of money to Google.

My advice would be to create lots of short, but interesting videos for your business. Don’t film them on your iPhone; go out and hire a professional if you have to. Take them behind the scenes of your business, do interviews with your staff, get some testimonials from satisfied customers; that sort of thing.

Then simply upload them to YouTube, and include your business name in the title.

But be careful when you’re doing this. Don’t be spammy.

For example, don’t use titles like this:

Frank’s Hardware: what happy, satisfied customers say

Frank’s Hardware: the best store in town?

Frank’s Hardware: why you should buy from us

Instead, mix it up, like this:

What Happy, Satisfied Customers Think About Frank’s Hardware

A Behind The Scenes Look At Our Hardware Store With Frank

Frank Spills The Beans: Why Buying Our Hardware Is a No-Brainer

It’s find to use your company name a few times, but you just have to be careful. Write naturally, as if you’re writing for people, not the search engines.

Use affiliates

There are lots of affiliate networks out there where you can list your products or services, so that affiliates can promote them in exchange for a commission on each sale.

What you could do is set up a product JUST to protect your online reputation.

For example, an ebook that teaches people about the common scams in your industry. Make sure to use your company name in the title, and then offer 100% commissions for each sale.

Then encourage your affiliates to rank YouTube “review” videos in Google for your business name. Any time someone searches for a review for your business, or even your business name, chances are, they’ll land on one of these videos.

You win because you get to protect your online reputation with very little effort.

Your affiliates win because they make money with very little effort (they just have to get the videos ranked).

And that’s it. Simple as that.

As you can see, it’s not rocket science, but again the key is to start preparing for the worst right now. Don’t wait until it’s too late, because again, you’ll be facing an uphill battle. Google can either be extremely kind or extremely detrimental to your business, but the good news is, it’s still currently within your power to influence the outcome.

photo credit: Dunechaser via photopin cc