As a small business owner, you need to know that your online reputation is how your business is viewed in the marketplace. Future customers are relying on your online reputation to decide whether or not they should do business with you, and it’s vital to future growth to grow a positive online reputation and protect it.
First Things First – Reputation Audit
The first step in growing and protecting your online reputation is knowing what your reputation is. You can’t control what is being shared online if you don’t see for yourself what is currently showing up online when your business shows up in search engine results and business listings. You must know from the start what hurdles you are facing in building a positive online reputation.
Time to do a reputation audit. A reputation audit is a process you can use to analyze what your reputation looks like right now online. It’s common to get an audit of your reputation when engaging the services of a professional – and that is one way to get an audit done.
If you’re looking to DIY a reputation audit first to see where your business stands, you’re in the right place. Keep reading for your reputation self-audit checklist.
Reputation Self-Audit Action List
1. Create a list of terms to monitor. You’re going to list all the words people would use to search for your business:
- Business Name
- Unique product names (anything your famous for or trying to famous for)
- Common misspellings of your business name
- Business name with location terms (city, neighborhood, downtown, campus, etc.)
2. Create a spreadsheet (as simple or complex as your abilities allow) where you will record the results of the online searches you will perform on your terms. There are various search engines, networks, and tools you can use to find mentions of your business online. An Excel or Word (Sheets/Docs) document will allow you to copy links to reference later. But the tech-challenged hand writers can also use old-school pen and paper to take detailed notes.
3. Google it. Then hit Yahoo. You’ve probably done this, but it’s time for a deeper dive into Google with these tips:
- Use quotation marks to find mentions of your business name as a whole. A search for [ “monster donuts”] gives results of those two words together in that order, giving very specific results. Less relevant results will appear for [monster donuts] or [monster+donuts].
- Include -site: yourwebsite.com in your search query to eliminate your website pages and get specific results of where your business is mentioned online besides your website. It will look like this in the search box [“monster donuts” -site: monsterdonutsLA.com].
4. Make a note of every mention online. Reviewing the first 3-4 pages of search engine results, note of how your business was mentioned, the website, where the link ranked results, if it was positive or negative, and if it was created by you (like your Yelp listing or Twitter account) or created by a customer (a review, complaint, kudos), or created by an organization (directory, resource page, competitor).
5. Search major review sites and industry review sites. Record the same details you did with the Google search, but add overall ratings and note any particularly good or bad customer comments. Also, note what position your business ranks in a search for your type of business.
6. Search social media. Keep it simple and use the search function on these major networks and any industry-specific social media sites, noting the same data:
7. Review your collective findings. You will see a detailed picture of what is being said about your business, the perception of your reputation, or your lack of reputation.
You Know Your Online Reputation is Important – What’s Next?
When you are not proactive, you are leaving your reputation in the hands of anybody with internet access. Do you really want to trust anyone who can find a Wi-Fi signal with your precious online reputation?
It’s important to build and promote an online reputation that demonstrates a high level of expertise and trustworthiness, so new customers pick you first.
It’s time to create an action plan that helps you dominate search engine results by monitoring your online presence, managing your reviews, and creating positive content and links for your business to promote.