Take Charge of Your Online Reputation
- A Virginia design/build remodeling company learned that a competitor had registered seven “lookalikes” of the company’s domain name. The only difference was that the legitimate company’s URL ended in .com, whereas the lookalike URLs ended in .net, .org etc. and were directed to the competitor’s site.
- A California remodeler checked out its profile on Yelp!, where it had 20 homeowner reviews. Unfortunately, only three remained visible — and these happened to be the three negative reviews.
- A Georgia remodeler found his company in the humiliating Angie’s List “penalty box” after receiving an F rating from one disgruntled client — despite five years of steady A ratings.
All three incidents, reported on daily5REMODEL by Leah Thayer reveal the growing challenges remodelers face in managing their online reputations. More remodeling searches are taking place on the web, and ratings sites and social media platforms are proliferating. Increasingly, projects and money are at stake if your image comes across poorly — or if prospects trying to find your site are directed to another site.
Here, Leah shares several concrete actions you should take to minimizing the risks of potentially damaging content about you or your business.
Know where you stand
Type your name, your company’s name, your employees’ names and so on into online search engines. In the event that the unflattering or inappropriate content was posted by you or the employee — say, updates from an employee’s personal Facebook page — have him delete it or adjust his privacy settings.
Get on it quickly
Google Alerts is probably the most widely used tool for free web monitoring of when your name (or any other search term) has appeared online. Don’t wait for someone else to bring a potential embarrassment to your attention.
Overwhelm the negative with positive
If you can’t remove a negative post, you can try to reduce its visibility by publishing new, positive content that will push older items down in a search. Your social network profiles can be a big asset here. Profile pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the like often show up high in searches, so keep them current and positive.
Use the complaint process
If you find that another company is using your name in web searches, you may have legitimate grounds for a complaint. Here are links to the forms for the major search engines:
- Google AdWords Trademark Complaint Form
- Yahoo! Search Results Abuse Form
- ing/Microsoft adCenter Trademark Concern
Respond quickly and professionally to negative reviews
Ask your good clients to post fresh, positive reviews on the sites they use. Make this easy — email requests to them, with direct links to the appropriate sites. Be classy, be positive, keep your chin up.
Register alternative domain names
A number of steps can help you establish a basis for recourse against abuse of your name. Register URLs that are similar to yours, or might be typos, abbreviations or synonyms for it (e.g., JonesRemodeling, JonesRemodel, JonesRemodeler, JonesRemodleing). Consider “geolocal” URLs, like SouthParkRemodeling.com. Have those domains redirected to your site.
Also consider registering your personal name as a domain.
Trademark your name
You can place a TM next to your name, logo and/or slogan at any time, even without registering your trademark through the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Even without a federal trademark registration (which allows you to use the ® for registered), you can establish rights in a trademark based on your use of the mark in commerce.
Reach out to the source
If a negative review is false or unjustified, don’t be afraid to go directly to the review site. It might not get you satisfaction, but it can’t hurt. The remodeler whose longtime “A” rating on Angie’s List was jeopardized by an “F”? His company was later featured in a glowing article on the site.
If you’re ready to take your company to the next level of success, join the best remodelers in the business — the members of Remodelers Advantage. Contact us today and have a better life tomorrow. Click here to contact us.