Today I am pleased to present a guest post by Debbie Allen.

Business owners are forced to take notice of things that affect their sales. Whether the impact is positive or negative, evaluating the impact allows a business person to understand how to help keep the business running more smoothly.

Not surprisingly, a business’s online reputation can play a major role in its success or in its collapse. The reality is, customers pay attention to the things they read and hear about a company. If your business’s online reputation is less than positive, it could be driving away customers.

Cleaning Up Your Company’s Online Reputation

Social Media Sites
Reputation management is an ongoing task. Business owners should take the time to regularly monitor comments and feedback about their company at social media sites.

According to a survey by eMarketer, almost half of all consumers expect customer service complaints to be resolved on social media sites. Many consumers consider this method more convenient than calling customer service departments. When businesses ignore these complaints, customers and would-be customers become alienated. In addition, other followers at the social media site will see that a complaint has been left unaddressed. This is unprofessional and disrespectful to the person with the complaint. In general, not responding to comments, feedback, and complaints can create a negative image of the business.

Online Review Sites
According to a study by Nielsen, when it comes to trust value, online reviews are second only to word-of-mouth recommendations for consumers. In other words, consumers value online reviews more highly than TV commercials or online banner ads. With that in mind, monitoring what is being said about your business on online review sites is very important. It’s a fact that unhappy customers are more likely to write reviews than those who are satisfied. Cleaning up negative reviews begins with responding to the person(s) that submitted the less-than-favorable comments. Besides working to resolve the problem with the unhappy customer, it is also a good idea to encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews about their experiences.

Google It
Every business owner should take the time to regularly Google the name of the business. Search results will probably include the business website, various business listings, social media profiles, listings at review sites, and other online mentions. Most people do not search past the first or second page of results. With that in mind, it is not too difficult to bury any negative results found (but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored). Savvy business owners create new, appropriately optimized content, which will quickly move up in search engine rankings.

Reputation management is key to the success of your business.
The reputation of a new and developing business may seem unimportant or nonexistent. However, every business has a reputation of sorts, and it can take years to establish a solid reputation of integrity and honesty. Sadly, without careful reputation management, that reputation can quickly be crushed.

Whereas a positive reputation can definitely help ensure the success of a business, a negative reputation can lead to its demise. With that in mind, taking steps to build and maintain a stellar reputation is an essential part of business management.

Debbie Allen is a professional freelance writer and blogger who specializes in online marketing strategies and topics of interest to women.