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In today’s digital world, your online reputation and identity can make or break your business. In order to keep the online reputation of your business intact, it is important to know what’s being said about you and to take the appropriate steps to manage any negativity.

As we live in a search-happy world, customers are likely to Google you first before they consider doing business with you. It’s imperative that your brand has a strong online presence so that you appear at the top of search engine rankings and build trust with your customers.

Here are eight things you can do to ensure your online reputation is not damaging your business.

1. Keep your company’s website up to date

Your website is the first place people go when researching your business, so make sure you leave a strong first impression.

Having an outdated website can reflect poorly on your business, making you look ‘behind the times’ and unaware of technological advances. Keeping your website looking modern will increase your credibility and lead to a better conversion rate.

It should also be mobile responsive as smartphones and tablets have revolutionised the way people are accessing the internet and getting information. Today’s customers want everything to be quick and easy, and expect to be able to seamlessly use their phone or tablet to access your website – if you can’t provide this, you’re likely to lose customers as a result.

2. Claim your business profile

It’s important to claim your business profile across the web and on every social media site to secure your brand identity. Even if you have no intention of ever using Instagram for business, grab your IG handle so that no one else can. If somebody gets there first, it can cause confusion to your customer base.

You may have heard of John Lewis (the man) who snagged the Twitter handle @johnlewis before John Leiws (the shop) could get to it. (They had to settle for @JohnLewisRetail instead.) He is hounded by tweets from customers believing him to be the shop – and luckily for the retail store, John takes time to reply to each tweet and re-directs them to the correct account.

Imagine if he didn’t respond… the customers would surely think their comments were being ignored, and this could have a significant impact on the store’s online reputation. This is why it’s essential to claim your profile on every platform.

3. Utailise social media

Although some brands are wary about using social media, the power of this tool can’t be ignored. Not only do popular social-media sites rank highly in search results, but they’re an ideal place to push out company news and to engage with customers. Sharing recent press, upcoming events or company announcements over social media is a great way to illustrate that your company is active and relevant. This will reassure customers that you are easy to reach and open with two-way communication.

4. Create quality content

Customers want to trust what they are buying and the company from whom they are buying so if search results only show a few hits, it may be a turn off for potential buyers. By providing regular information on your website, social networking sites, and through press releases, it will help your online identity grow and reassure people that you’re still active.

Creating a blog and contributing to industry specific social media discussions is another powerful way to promote yourself as an expert in your field and reach more people.

5. Layer your security

A security breach can cause significant damage to your reputation. One of the best ways to keep your business and customer data safe is by layering your security. Adding firewalls is an essential aspect in stopping attackers before they can gain access to your critical information and obscuring the back end login page will help prevent brute force attacks.

Complex passwords should be compulsory for both your customers and any employees who access to the back end of your site. By only accepting passwords that are a combination of numbers, special characters and upper and lowercase letters, you are protecting yourself and your customers from potential hack attempts. The more security you can implement, the better protected you and your customers will be.

6. Invest in an offsite backup solution

Having the best security features installed on your site is a huge step to deter hackers, but none of it matters if you aren’t regularly backing up your site. Aside from hackers, data loss, hardware breakdown and human errors can easily happen at any time, so it’s worth investing in a robust backup solution – such as remote data storage centres, backup plugins and data recovery software.

Without backing up your website, you could be left in a situation where you’re unable to restore it quickly or cheaply back to its previous condition. Imagine the potential sales lost if your website was down for just a day, let alone the weeks (or even months!) it could take to rebuild it again. This can significantly affect your reputation as well as your bottom line.

7. Don’t compromise your customer’s data

There’s really no reason to store thousands of records on your customers, especially card expiration dates and CVV2 codes. Old records should be purged from your database so that there is just the minimal amount of data held.

And although some customers prefer their card details to be saved so they don’t have to re-enter them at the checkout, the risk of fraud firmly outweighs the convenience for your customers. Any instances of fraud can destroy your businesses reputation so stay squeaky clean and don’t compromise the data of your customer base.

8. Monitor what people are saying about you

People are writing about companies on online review sites, in blogs and in social media. In order to find out what people are saying about your business, you should regularly do a search for your company name on all the major search engines.

Google Alerts are a great way to see when your name appears in search engines immediately. To create an alert, go to the Google Alerts homepage and then type in your name in the “Create an alert about …” box. You can then choose if you’d like to receive email alerts as your name appears, once a day, or once a week.

Ultimately, it’s important to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to your online reputation. The above list is a great starting point, but in some cases it may be best to hire a professional to monitor the security of your website – as this is a particularly important area to the overall impression people will have of your business.

WP Tech Support do more than just protect you from attacks by keeping your WordPress system and plugins up-to-date. They also carry out a manual health check at the outset providing recommendations for improving the security of your site. Take a look at our monthly payment plans available to find the best one suited to your business requirements.

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