Do you need an online makeover? If your reputation has been damaged, whether by others or your own mistakes, it can be devastating for business. Today’s consumers buy from companies with a positive online reputation – and a full 84% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

You can’t stop people from saying negative things about you online – but you can make sure others don’t see it. Here are my best tips for fixing a damaged reputation (warranted or not):

Find Out What People Are Saying About You

The first step in repairing a damaged reputation is to find out what people are saying about you. This is simple: just google your name and your business name together and see what pops up. Look for negative search results on the first or second page of results (because, really, no one is going to look beyond the first two pages, anyway).

Google results won’t show you what people are saying on social media, but it’s a good jumping off point. For a more comprehensive overview, you can use one of the following tools:

  • Mention: Mention is a powerful web-monitoring tool that tracks blogs, social media, chat forums and more for a mention of you and your business. Plans start at $29/month and allow you to measure your options, customize alerts and engage with your audience.
  • Buffer: Buffer is another online monitoring tool that allows you to track mentions across social media platforms. Features include not only the ability to see what people are saying and interact with them straight through the platform but also the ability to schedule and manage posts. Basic plans are free.

Repairing your reputation

So, you found out people are saying negative things. Now what? Well, it depends on where they’re doing their talking. Different platforms require different approaches. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Social media: If you find that web users are trash talking you on social, there are several steps you can take, including:
    • Always respond in a professional manner. The worst thing you can do is ignore negative comments.
    • Try to make the problem right – even if you didn’t do anything wrong.
    • Don’t feed into the drama – it can be tempting to start a back-and-forth argument, but it will never end well.
    • Keep posting informative, useful content and sharing positive information about your business.
  • Web results: If you find that your problem is Google, Yahoo, or the like, you’ll want to take a slightly different approach. The key is to bump the negative comments far back in search results. Here’s how:
    • Share positive news about your business wherever you can: on your own site, on partner sites, in paid ads, etc.
    • Create multiple blogs on high-authority websites, such as Medium, Quora, or Tumblr.
    • Write guest posts for popular websites that rank well on Google
    • Get in touch with influencers and ask them to talk up your business.
    • Get interviewed by leading websites.
    • Most importantly (much like social): don’t get into arguments. If someone says you did something wrong (even if you didn’t), apologize and offer to make it right. When it comes to reputation, class counts for a lot.

Conclusion

No matter who you are, or what industry you’re in, people are looking for you online. And no, it doesn’t matter if they received a direct referral from a friend – they’re still going to check out your online presence. Do you think they’ll still reach out to you if they find negative reviews or comments? In a nutshell: no.

The best approach for your business is to monitor your reputation and stay ahead of the game. Once negative reviews start to pile up unchecked, it’s really difficult to dig yourself out.

Do you have any experience with negative online comments or reviews? What did you do to remedy the situation?