Today, businesses have to invest a lot of time and money in online reputation management simply because the majority of consumers use the Internet to find information about products and services. According to a study carried out by GroupM, 58% of consumers rely on information gathered online to make purchase decisions. As a result, any negative information on a business that consumers come across on the Internet is likely to lead to loss of sales leads. Consequently, by managing the reputation of your business, you would avoid losing loyal consumers. Tips that you can use to achieve this goal include:

Diversify your Online Presence

Granted, no matter how hard you work to please your consumers, some of them will always feel that your products orBlogging and Split Testing services are substandard. In today’s digital world, “disgruntled” customers often vent on the Internet, mostly be writing negative reviews on brands that they do not like. One way of countering such customers is by diversifying your web presence. Start by creating positive articles using keywords that consumers use to search for your business and publish them on your website as well as on your blog. This will ensure that web users come across a lot of positive information, too. In addition, create accounts on popular social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+.

Monitor Search Results Related to your Business Regularly

Besides diversifying your web presence, you should also monitor search results related to your business. To start with, browse the web regularly to see the kind of information users see when they search for your business. However, do not just look at the first page of search engine results and then stop there. Instead, go up to the third or fourth page. What’s more, make use of free but very important tools such as Google Alerts that will alert if any new information related to your business appears online. Keep record of this information and the sentiment it elicits from web users.

Do not get into Arguments Online

Obviously, never get into arguments with disaffected consumers online because comments generated in such a confrontation will show up in search engine results for a long period of time. Instead, try to contact the unhappy consumers and settle their problems amicably.

Promote Consumer Reviews

While blowing your own horn is something that you might not be able to resist, you should encourage your customers to submit their reviews and testimonials submitted to various forums as well as social media sites. If your customers agree to do it, your business is likely to benefit dramatically.

A great way to see what and where people are saying about your brand is to simply “Google” yourself and see what sites come up. It’s not always going to be a Google Local Listing or Yelp at the top of the search results, so it’s always important to know which sites might be accumulating both negative and positive press for your personal or business brand.

However, at the same time many brands are trying to post “paid” and/or “fake” reviews to these sites to improve their chances to look better online. While this may seem like a good idea at first, if your brand gets caught, it will most likely end in disaster.

This a topic Todd William of ReputationRhino recently discussed on Business2Community:

While many are decrying this recent trend toward “paid” reviews, the practice is not going away anytime soon, in fact, it may be increasing. Gartner says phony reviews will comprise 10 to 15 percent of all reviews by 2014. Analysts also predict that “…increased media attention on fake social media ratings and reviews will result in at least two Fortune 500 brands facing litigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the next two years.”

Leverage the Power of Anchor Text to Link to Other Sites

Anchor text consists of phrases or words that are hyperlinked. For example, you could use the title of a blog post to direct site visitors to another web page. It is important to note that search engines also use anchor text when determining the relevancy of web pages that use the link. To achieve the best results, link your web pages to authoritative sites. This will improve the visibility of that web page on search engine results. Never use link farms as this approach will only harm your online reputation.

Running a business involves more than generating stellar results every quarter. One has to take into consideration the perception consumers may have about the business. This is where reputation management comes in handy. Since most businesses have a web presence, this is where managing the business brand should start. Some of the tips that you can use to succeed on this front include using anchor text to link to authoritative sites, promoting consumer reviews, diversifying your online presence, and monitoring relevant search results regularly.