By Alli Summerford
April 15, 2009
With 1.6 billion* people online sharing ideas, opinions, reviews and recommendations about everything imaginable, how do you keep track of the online reputation of you, your brand, or your business? In this article, we talk about reputation management, Web 2.0-style.
Everyone has Googled their name or that of their business. The results are sometimes surprising! Because that information is available to anyone with a Web browser (which is to say everyone), it is critical to know what is being said about you, your brand, or your business. Imagine that you have a big proposal out for a new piece of business, and the potential client Googles your company to see what they can learn. That is a make or break piece of research for you. If the potential client finds good quality content that you have posted or positive comments about your service, your chances of landing that new business are much greater. It goes without saying that finding the opposite results could very easily lead to your losing the business. The old adage about sticks and stones was clearly coined before the Internet.
Tracking Your Good Name
How do you know what’s being said about you? There are some great (and free) tools that you can use to keep abreast of your online reputation. The simplest method is to run sample searches for your name or your brand in Google, Yahoo, and Bing. To help automate this process, sign up with Google Alerts and Yahoo’s email alerts. Both will send you email updates at a frequency that you determine when they run across your key phrases. For a slightly more sophisticated approach, you can use Monitor This (http://alp-uckan.net/free/monitorthis/) to create a file that will allow you to track a single keyword phrase across 22 search engines feeds at the same time. You create the opml file at the Monitor This site and then import it into an RSS reader (such as Google Reader – click link for more information on using RSS to manage online news). Finally, don’t forget to use Twitter Search and Facebook searches to see what is happening around your name and brand within these explosively popular communities.
Create Your Own Buzz
The best way to manage your online reputation is to be an active participant in its creation. Get out there and join the online conversation. This participation can be on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Digg, industry forums, new sites, online press releases, and blogs–share your point of view, news, and ideas. Most of these sites allow you to generate your own content, and many allow you to include a URL with your post. The more content that you distribute across a variety of online channels, the more the search engine results will be filled with this content. When writing and posting your content, be sure to include your important keywords within the text of the post. Doing so will help direct the search engines by providing clear signals about the subject and nature of the content.
* As of March 2009 according to Internet World Stats (www.internetworldstats.com)