“How can I protect my reputation online?” is one of the biggest questions many businesses have today. You've worked hard to build a good reputation in your community and on the internet. But a single failure to protect the online reputation of your firm can hurt your total revenue by almost 10 percent—even if it was a negative review posted by your rivals in an attempt to drive you out of business. It's important to protect the online reputation of your law firm, and to do that, you'll need a primer. In this guide, you'll learn how to protect your online reputation with simple, easy to use tips.
How to Protect My Reputation Online: Avoid Unnatural Links
Being a spammer is one of the worst online reputations that you can have. To protect the online reputation of your law firm, you need to project an image of an authoritative, professional business with quality content. If you've used any kind of unnatural link building in the past, you should check those links in order to protect your online reputation.
If you find links that look spammy, you need to ask to have them removed to protect the online reputation of your firm. “How does that protect my reputation online?” you may ask. The answer is simple: if people searching for your website find that site first—or at all—they may not feel like you're a trustworthy enough law firm to do business with.
Unnatural links are being cracked down upon by Google anyhow, so you'll not only protect your online reputation when you do this—you'll also protect your search engine rankings.
How to Protect My Reputation Online: Use Social Networks
If you want to protect the online reputation of a law firm in 2012 or 2013, one of the first things you need to do is get social networking accounts on every major social network. How does that protect my reputation online? Because if you don't do this, it will be much harder to protect your online reputation on these sites, or even see if people are talking about you.
Social networks can also be a great way to protect your online reputation by getting out the call to people you know and trust. If you're a small law firm and your competition has recently launched a black hat campaign to give you bad reviews, you can put a call out on Facebook and Twitter: “Help me protect my reputation online—give me a good review if you've had a good experience.” This can net you big numbers of reviews from your best clients.
Because social networking links tend to be displayed relatively early in search results, you can also create content on social networks to protect the online reputation of your law firm. This content can protect your online reputation by pushing the content you don't want people to see off the front page and into the rankings nobody reads.
How to Protect My Reputation Online: Monitor What People Say
To protect your online reputation, you may want to enlist help. There are many different online tools that help to protect the online reputation of businesses. Some of these reputation management software packages are totally free—like the alert system offered by Google—but those with more advanced functions, like automation of changes to your search rankings, can cost thousands of dollars every year you use them to protect your online reputation.
Whether you choose to start with a more streamlined free tool or a more comprehensive paid tool to protect the online reputation of your law firm, you should monitor your online reputation at least once every week. This helps you get a feel for the trends affecting your reputation, as well as manage a new negative review quickly before it's been able to get much traction with other users online.
How to Protect My Reputation Online: Build Links Slowly
Your reputation online isn't just being measured by individual people. Search engines like Google are also keeping track of your link presence, and in some cases you'll need to be careful to protect the online reputation of your law firm. If Google decides that your website has been optimized too much for search engine performance, there's a chance that you'll see a major rankings penalty.
“But how can I protect my online reputation while building links?” may be your next question. Protect your online reputation by knowing what natural links look like. The biggest sign that a website is building its link popularity artificially is that links appear by the thousands on some days, while on other days no new links are made to your site. That's not the pattern that websites building their link presence naturally have—they build links much more steadily, with smaller spikes when new content is created or shared. You can protect the
How to Protect My Reputation Online: Avoid Security Breaches
This may sound like it goes without saying, but you can't protect the online reputation of your firm if you're not protecting your own website. Using insecure passwords and outdated software on your website could leave you vulnerable to hacking attempts and denial of service attacks, and these can compromise your online reputation for months or years to come if you're not careful.
What's more, if you keep private client information connected to your website in any way, hacking attempts could breach your security and steal that client information—any lawyer's worst nightmare. If you're not sure how secure you really are, you may want to consult with an IT security professional to make sure that your website is safe and protect your online reputation.
How to Protect My Reputation Online: Don't Astroturf
To protect the online reputation of your law firm, you can't astroturf, making fake reviews or websites to defame a client or promote yourself. You may think this is a way to protect your online reputation, but it's almost always too obvious and discovered very quickly. Protect the online reputation you've built with natural methods, not by pretending to be someone you're not. If you try to protect your online reputation with astroturfing, your state bar association may be very unhappy—and trying to excuse it by saying “I was just trying to protect my reputation online” won't cut it.