“Online reputation management.” Even if you’ve never heard this phrase before, you probably have a good sense of what it means. The first part (“online reputation”) is easier than ever for you or anyone else to find — just search for your camp’s name in Google.
Finding your online reputation is easy due to two main factors:
- Google is smarter than ever before. It features search results based on local factors, can autocomplete user’s searches while they type (called “Google Instant”), and tirelessly crawls the massive number of social networking sites now available.
- Local review pages and social networking sites have made it easier than ever for customers and staff (current or former) to rant or rave about your camp online.
The first step in managing your reputation is to be proactive and put your name out there first: “If you don’t have a Web presence, it’s much more likely that if someone posts something negative about their experience with your business, that review is actually going outrank you for your business name. And everybody loves to click on something that’s negative, so it’s much more likely that your customers will see that. Through repeat clicks and searches, it will actually cause that negative review to rank even higher.”
Claim your business on sites like Google Places. That way, your camp’s name appears in the results if someone searches for camps in your area.
he next step is to register the domain name of your Web site. “Even if you don’t have a big site with a whole lot of moving parts and lots of pages or any other flashy features, as long as you have one page with accurate contact information, as well as accurate hours, and an accurate description of your [camp], that’s going to help,”
After claiming your username, fill out your profile on each network. And just like your Web site, make sure you’ve included accurate contact information. “A lot of problems online are caused when someone doesn’t have the means to contact you — the phone number is out of date on your Web site, or the Web site is broken, or something else. And that’s when they turn to other sites to make a complaint, because they weren’t able to get ahold of you,”
Consider linking your social network accounts to your Web site, and vice versa. This practice is called cross-linking. Linking to your Web site in your Twitter bio, for example, allows a follower to seamlessly find more in-depth information about you; and linking to your Twitter account from your Web site allows customers to easily find and follow your witty tweets.
Another way to be proactive about your online reputation is to create positive content. For example, press releases are a great way to get your name out there. Just keep in mind that, lately, Google has been favoring fresh results. That means something that has a date attached to it — a press release or a news result —will typically show up in the search results when it is new. As the news dies down, however, it will actually fall out of the search results. So also try to create long-term, static content that does not have a date associated with it.
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