U-C WEBS' founder Nardo KuitertBy Nardo Kuitert, U-C WEBS
[Published in The Wellington Advertiser, November 2011 for the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce]

Have you ever searched online for your name or the name of your company? And if you have, what did you find? Did you only see positive reviews or are there also one or more web sites that speak negatively about you? And if you saw negative reviews (or worse) – do you know what to do about them?

In comes Reputation Management. First of all: knowledge is power. Just like you should look at your website’s visitor statistics from time to time to optimize your website, you should monitor your online reputation (or have it monitored for you) in order to optimize your online reputation. Just imagine a scenario where the top results in Google are all from web pages that have negative reviews about your company! This may not even have anything to do with the level of service you are providing, or the products you are offering. You may be falsely accused, or being smeared online by competitors or people who may, for whatever reason, feel wronged by you. Reading all this negative feedback, (potential) customers or clients might shy away from ever doing business with your company again.

And negative comments online are not the only thing you should watch for. . What about outdated information that is very persistent and takes up valuable time from your staff to explain. For instance “this phone number no longer belongs to company so-and-so” – or ”we have not carried that product since 2008”. Would you not want to try and fix that?

Is your online repuattion OK?The first thing you need to do is finding out what information about your company is out there, and then respond accordingly – fast! Try to fix errors, respond to questions and negative feedback by engaging in a conversation with your target audience, or try to push negative reviews off the first page in Google with targeted Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

There are a lot of tools available to manage your reputation online yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself or simply don’t have the time, you can hire a company to do this for you. But it is clear that you should monitor your company and brand online; your reputation is at stake!

For more information: contact your Webmaster, or contact Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce Director Nardo Kuitert at nardo@ucwebs.com or 519-787-7612.