In the internet age, your online reputation can make or break your business. It’s common to google a business before visiting, and negative experiences are written about on Twitter and other social media platforms. Similarly, good moments go viral, and businesses are able to amass huge followings on Instagram.

There are a lot of ways to protect your company’s reputation online and put your best foot forward.

What do you look like to Google? 

Google is the final word in online searches. Making sure your brand is at the top of a search for relevant keywords is a huge step in maintaining your online presence.

When was the last time you looked past the first page for Google results? If a negative impression is the first thing that comes up when googling your company, that can be a huge problem. It’s important to be aware of your digital footprint. Your first page of Google results is a large part of your image as a company, not only to clients but to potential employees and investors as well.

If other companies are coming up instead of yours, consider having an SEO expert manage your content to boost your searchability online. If your company name is easily confused with other businesses, do more to boost your visibility.

The best defence is a good offence

This ties right into the next point — being proactive about your company image. If you have a stellar reputation and bad publicity comes your way, it can be just a drop in the pond. On the other hand, if there isn’t much prior build up, bad press can go a long way towards ruining your business reputation.

Similarly, be aware of comparable domain names and businesses that could be confused with yours. If possible, purchase the domain names that are close to yours to better secure your company’s image. The more positive your existing content, the easier it is to bury any blips that come up along the way. One negative review in a sea of positive ones holds less weight than one lone negative review.

However, strong and ethical business practice is the best method. Look at United Airlines and their recent PR fiasco when a passenger was forcibly removed from a flight. The whole thing was filmed and put on social media, making matters much worse for them. Remember, good PR can’t rug sweep viral negative events, so take care.

Know your image

Part of protecting your company’s reputation means knowing exactly what kind of brand you are. What image are you looking to project? Make your content relevant to who you’re trying to reach. A specific image is a strong image, and that will solidify your reputation.

On that note, be very aware of what you put online. What you post online stays online forever. Even bad photos posted on your personal pages can come back to haunt you on a professional level. Many companies have met their downfall through poorly thought out social media posts, ill-timed responses to criticism, or viral images and videos that show the company in a negative light.

Optimize social media

Social media is today’s PR. Some companies (like Wendy’s) have capitalized on their clever social media and used it to generate positive buzz around their businesses. It doesn’t have to be about the wittiest, most viral posts though. Consistent activity shows that your company is engaging and doing its best to stay relevant and will come across as more trustworthy than a company that hasn’t updated its Instagram in a year.

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Cultivating a solid online reputation takes a lot of work, but it will go a long way towards defending your company from negativity, whatever form that may come in.