Reputation managementTo keep up with this fast-paced, ever-evolving digital age, your business needs to have a strong online presence. Subsequently, your business also needs to have a strong online presence that’s positive.

Start by discovering what your customers are saying about your products and services online. The success of your business is dependent upon your online reputation, and reputation management is key.

1. Do a Google Search of Your Business Name

Set up Google Alerts, and you’ll be notified every time your business is mentioned online. It’s a real-time informational tool, and you can also visit the site to see how your business is mentioned. You’ll always know when someone says something new about your company online, whether it’s bad or good.

Next, search Google itself. Put the name of your business in quotes when you do the search so you get an exact match. Regularly check forums and complaint websites that mention your name, services or products.

You may even discover your customers love you — then you’re doing something right and should keep doing it, and better. See a negative comment? Rebut it with your own reply and create dialogue around how you can better meet customer needs.

2. Check the Better Business Bureau Website

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) will attempt to contact you when a complaint is received, and you will have 10 days to respond. Most complaints are resolved using the BBB’s free mediation service. Complaints are closed and not made public.

You may find a surprise complaint against your company on the BBB website if your contact information changed and you were unreachable. Contact the BBB directly and explain your side of the story. They may or may not give you a second shot at mediation and remove the complaint.

Otherwise, it’s going to remain on their website indefinitely. The BBB has no legal authority over your business, but it can significantly affect your business’s online reputation.

3. Start Repairing Your Online Reputation

Contact the sites that have poor reviews of your business and ask to have them removed. If the site owner refuses to remove your business name or the negative comments, cover up the evidence.

Create new websites and content that will outrank these sites on the search engines. If you’re not Web-savvy, or if you’re restrained by time, have a professional online reputation management company revamp your online reputation for you.

Complaints will quickly move far enough down in the search engines. Potential customers will only see positive content about your business on the first few pages of search results. Most people don’t look further than that in the search engines.

This article was contributed by Christina Cruz. Christina is freelance writer from Missouri with a background in social media and online marketing.