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Protecting Your Online Reputation

How many times have you heard someone on the radio or TV offering to protect your online reputation from malicious or fraudulent reviews? Believe it or not, with a little work, you can protect your own online reputation and keep your cash!

First, understand what we mean by your online reputation. Basically, whenever we talk about a business getting damaged by an online slight, it can be traced to a consumer-based review. Many sites exist that allow anyone to leave a review of any business. Unfortunately, these review sites are not policed or edited, creating opportunities for mischief, pranks, and outright lies.

It happened to me. One of my less ethical competitors wrote a false, scathing review about my company. I figured out it was him because he gave one-star reviews to all of the web design companies except his own (which earned 5 stars). Oh, and he used his real name when he made the review.

To discover what the Internet denizens are saying about you, check out these three sites: Google Places, Yelp and Google Alerts.

Yelp and Google Places are the two main third-party review sites. By searching these sites, you will cover roughly 80% of the reputation landscape on the Internet.

Google Alerts sends you daily or weekly emails of “mentions” of any keywords you choose. Right away, you need to create saved searches on your name and company name.

Finally, Social Mention makes it easy to search across numerous blogs, tweets, and other social sites for any keywords you choose.

But what do you do if someone gives you a negative review? Remember, most review sites, including Yelp and Google Places, have an “abuse” address you can make an appeal if you feel the review is fraudulent. However, unless the review contains bad language, racial remarks, or threatens you personally, they will take a hands-off approach.

If you find yourself “stuck” with a bad review, the only option you have is to “respond” to it. When you respond, take a professional tact. Remove all emotion from your response and avoid sarcasm. Most people expect a business to have a few bad reviews, but as long as you respond to them, the reader will see that you are responsive and attentive to customer service.


Eric Spellmann continues to be one of the highest rated speakers at our national America’s SBDC conferences. His unique view that small business websites should “do” something pushes against the standard “online pamphlet” view of most web design companies. He believes your customer’s websites should be driving qualified leads and sales on a weekly basis. Eric speaks at a number of other national and state conferences nationwide, but enjoys running one of the most successful web design companies in the country. He truly believes in the SBDC mission as it helped him start his own company many years ago. To contact him, visit his website at

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