How To Manage Your Online Reputation By Brad Hines
1.) Definitely put up a Google alert for yourself, your brand, your products, and your services. The moment something negative gets indexed in google, you are on top of it, ready for whatever action you need take: google.com/alerts.
2.) If something ever does come up, I have had success in the past asking Google to remove the page if they thought it was both unfair and harming my business, I believe a current link for that can be found here: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1663637
3.) Have a Twitter account. When people tweet at you, you will be able to respond in real time, and publicly to diffuse a situation. Use a program like TweetBeep, or HootSuite to be able to set up alerts for when a person tweets about your keywords of choice.
4.) Use Skweal to manage damning negative feedback.
If your company is big enough, it may merit registering domain name variants of your website that would be pertaining to negative things. For example if your product was "widget", you'd maybe purchase widgetsucks.com, etc. to insure that online vandals and disgruntle customers can't. This is the reason Verizon owns VerizonSucks.com, take a look: http://whois.domaintools.com/verizonsucks.com
5.) Avoid high price SEO firms or so-called social media consultants that would charge you exorbitant amounts to manage your online image by doing the very things outlined here you can do yourself.
6.) Lastly, understand that not all negative feedback is wrong, or even necessarily damning, and it certainly is a growth opportunity for yourself or your business to become better. In those instances, admit the mistake, and try to make amends with the person(s). In a similar fashion, always conduct yourself and your business in such a way as to minimize negative feedback in the first place! Think twice before sending off an email, publishing debatable web copy etc., or releasing an unfinished product or service.
I recommend the book "Me and My Web Shadow" for learning more about managing online reputation.
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