7 Steps to a Better Online Reputation

When it comes to online reputation, no one can do as much damage to your company as you can do yourself. Take steps to improve how your business is perceived.

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So much depends on what pops up on a screen when a potential customer types your name or company name into a search engine or mentions it to Siri. The first thing someone sees after they click can make the difference between giving you business or taking it to another contractor. Make sure they like what they see by taking steps to give your online reputation a checkup and possibly a makeover.

1. Analyze

Type your name into a search engine, and note what comes up and how the order mentions of your name come up. Do the same for your company name. Also search terms like “excavation” and your city name to see how high up your company is listed. If you find negative comments, bad reviews, or come up low on the page when searched, make note of these and any other things you would like to correct, answer to, or eliminate.

2. Consider a social media diet

The number of platforms is growing every day, and while throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks is a popular marketing strategy, you’ll have more control over your online reputation if you limit yourself to the platforms you’re comfortable with that get the best results. Maybe you get a lot of traffic on Facebook but are ignored on Twitter, or vice versa. It’s OK to delete a stagnant account, and it’s actually better than leaving it ignored and vulnerable to negative comments that might sit for months because you don’t have time to keep up with every platform. If you decide to delete an account, make sure to also delete any connecting links on your webpage and email signature.

3. Respond to negativity positively

If someone posted a negative comment or review of your company, address it head on. If you were wrong or someone in the company made a mistake, admit it, apologize, and move on. If there are so many complaints you notice a pattern emerging, you need to fix the root cause, explain how it was fixed, apologize, and move on. If, however, a comment or complaint is inappropriate or completely unwarranted, you may want to delete it and block the poster. No matter how badly you want to set some complaining jerk straight, do not get into an argument on a social media site. Arguing will only draw more attention to the situation, and even if you’re right, you’re likely to end up looking bad.

4. Be proactive

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. If you anticipate negative comments after increasing the cost of your services, for example, get out in front of it and write a detailed explanation justifying the increase before anyone has a chance to complain. Get them to see your side of the story and they are less likely to publicly grumble.

5. Review your website

While your social media sites are important, don’t forget your website. Check for dead links. Make sure everything on it is still accurate and that it loads quickly on all devices. A tired, dated website that doesn’t fit on a smartphone screen and takes forever to load tells potential customers you’re not on top of things. You don’t want a reputation, online or otherwise, for being lazy.

6. Assess your professionalism

If you Google your name and the first thing that comes up is political pontificating or a picture of yourself dancing with a lampshade on your head and a jumbo margarita in your hand at the company Christmas party, it’s time to clean up your online image. Articles and columns in this publication frequently advise contractors to maintain a professional image in everything they do, whether that means maintaining super-clean trucks or avoiding certain types of industry humor in branding. The same should be true for your online presence. Keep it clean and professional at all times. And in this age of political divisiveness, why risk alienating 50 percent of your potential customers by spouting political rhetoric online?

7. Get help if necessary

There are companies that, for a fee, provide reputation management services. If you are facing an online reputation crisis requiring more time and expertise than you or your staff have to devote to the problem, outside help may be part of the solution. Some of these services simply offer tools you can set to monitor review sites, social media sites and search engine results for mentions of your company. Others provide managed assistance. The trouble is, it’s hard to predict how much it will cost to have an outside service attempt to fix your online reputation and if they can actually deliver results.

There are individual self-proclaimed experts who send out email blasts or advertise on Craigslist promising to fix your online reputation for a few hundred dollars. On the other side of the spectrum, there are large agencies specializing in reputation management that charge thousands of dollars or more each month for their services. If your online reputation is so damaged it’s beyond your ability to repair and you need professional help, shop around, ask trusted associates for recommendations, and hire a firm with a proven track record of results.

A Final Word

Like it or not, the internet is the first place most people turn to when shopping for the services your company provides. Make sure they like what they see when your company or personal website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, blog or other social media content pops up. Just like you wouldn’t show up for a meeting with a potential client in a dirty shirt, don’t show up on their smartphone with an offensive comment. Every footprint you leave online should lead one to the conclusion that you and your company can be trusted to provide top-notch professional service.



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