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By Tony Semadeni 13 Sep, 2017

“We live in a search-happy world,” says Tony Semadeni, owner of Colorado Springs’ digital marketing agency Business Checkup. “If you’ve spoken to a customer recently, networked, or went in for an interview, you should absolutely assume you’re being Googled. Somewhere, someone is typing your name into that search box and making a judgment based on what they find.”

Your online reputation is the information people find about you online, so ignoring this basic fact now puts you at risk if something negative were to come out about you or your company. “Make no mistake, EVERYONE is at risk of negative content online,” Semadeni says. Of the 75 percent of U.S. adults who Google themselves, nearly half say the results aren’t positive.

The reason is simple. Anyone can write anything about you online, typically without consequence. A jealous competitor can anonymously write a critical blog post or fill out a damning RipoffReport. An angry client can write a horrible review for your business without recourse.

“Without any positive content out there to defend against digital attacks, you have no chance of keeping your online rep clean. Anything negative goes undefended, immediately rising to the top of your search results for the whole world to see...in in the blink of an eye, your good reputation is gone!” cries Tony Semadeni.

So what can you do?

As high school football coach Tony Semadeni says, “The best defense is a good offense!” Here are some actions you can take right now to protect your online reputation in 2017:

Review and Clean-Up your current situation.

Each person's online presence is unique, and you can't improve what you don't know. Google yourself and see what comes up in the first few pages. If there is negative or irrelevant content showing up that you control such as weekend party pictures, old websites, etc., then what are you waiting for? Go ahead and delete those now before they are used against you.

Next, review your entire Facebook and Twitter history and flag any potentially damaging or controversial updates. Once your social media feeds are clean, you can make them public in good conscience. “And stop posting those funny photos of you and your family or co-workers. They just aren’t that funny and other people will be making judgements upon your character based upon what you yourself are posting for the world to see. Think about that before you click the ‘POST’ button,” warns Tony Semadeni.

Registering your name as a domain.

Registering a website with your name in the domain (like  www.tonysemadeni.com ) is one of the strongest forms of online insurance. You’ll prevent other people from taking this valuable piece of real estate away from you or using it against you in the future. But don’t stop there! Build out your website as a central hub of information about you, including your experience, blog content, relevant press, awards and honors.

“With a website at the very top of your search results, you’ll ensure that when people search your name, they find exactly what you want them to find. You don’t get a better first impression than that,” says Semadeni.

Secure your name across all social platforms.

A website is great, but it only populates one position in your search results (or 2-3 if your sitelinks are ranking.) You’ll need 10 properties ranking to take control of the PAGE 1 narrative. Lay the groundwork for success by registering your name across the most authoritative social media platforms. Yes, that means classic ones like Twitter and Linkedin, but also lesser-known profiles like Quora, Slideshare, and Crunchbase.

Publish regular content.

“Building and optimizing websites and social media properties is only half the battle. You’ll still need to prove to the search engine gods that those properties are valuable enough to searchers to warrant a high ranking,” comments Tony Semadeni. One way to do that is to update your website regularly with content that your audience finds helpful. Having trouble getting started? Distill your expertise into digestible content like articles, videos, or slideshows. The goal is to find a "sweet spot" between topics your audience is genuinely interested in, and where your experience and unique leadership can lend credibility and value.

Get active on social media.

Getting active on social media is great for two reasons: 1) 1) the profiles will rank in search results over time and 2) it’s an effective way to drive traffic to your website content. By interacting with people and building yourself an audience, you’ll grow the authority of your social media profiles and the authority of your blog content. A note of caution: authenticity is key. People can tell the difference between a robotic feed and a personable one. You’ll be most effective by starting real conversations with people and giving them a reason to follow you back.

If you’re representing a business, there are a couple of additional actions you’ll want to take:

Claim and verify your Google listing.

An unclaimed Google listing is bad for several reasons. You miss out on an opportunity to provide valuable information to your customers, your contact information may be incorrect, and you risk someone else claiming your listing. Once you claim your listing you’ll have to verify your business before your edits can appear across Google Search and Maps. Most businesses verify via postcard which arrives with a verification code within a week. “I can’t stress enough to business owners this one point, you have to connect with Google, ‘claim’ your business profile, and build out your Google+ information,” says Semadeni.

Manage online reviews.

If you’re a business with no reviews, then you’re in trouble -- you’re just one review away from a 1-star rating. Considering that  84 percent  of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, having a large number of positive reviews can be a huge competitive advantage. So start encouraging your customers to get active on online review sites. Consider putting a call to action in your email signature, on your website, or even on a sign in your store’s window.

Companies and clients are searching for you online and making decisions based on what they find. Rather than hiding behind privacy settings and fake usernames, take control of your online presence. Get active and stay consistent, and realize that fixing your online reputation is marathon, not a sprint. If you want help, get someone to do the job for you, like Tony Semadeni’s company,  Business Checkup .

Business Checkup LLC

Since 2010, Business Checkup founder Tony Semadeni and his team has been committed to helping small business owners compete with the big companies and rise to the next level by providing outsourced advertising and digital marketing services tailored specifically to meet the needs of local “neighbor” businesses. For more information on 5-star customer review systems, visit www.businesscheckup.info .
By Tony Semadeni 11 Sep, 2017

Customer reviews play an important role in the success or failure of a business. Word of mouth, social proof, or in other words — popularity — has always been a key to success in business. Today that has evolved into 5-star online reviews.

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 – “When we want to know something about any person, product, or business, what do we do? We Google it,” says Tony Semadeni, owner of Business Checkup, a digital marketing agency in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 2017, the truth is that the content of 5-star online reviews on sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and even your own website can mean the difference between success and failure — particularly if you are a small local business.

In a recent survey by Google, roughly 1 out of 4 of small businesses – especially local business who do not sell products online – have their blinders on when it comes to the internet. They think because they serve a localized base of consumers — a portion of which is foot traffic — that what people are saying on the web is irrelevant. The remaining 3 out of 4 business owners say they know having a reputation management plan is important, but only 1 out of 4 have implemented a program and made it one of their critical business processes.

Tony Semadeni reinforces this concept to every business owner during their initial consultation, “If you’re one of the owners that haven’t started, it’s time to wake up to the realities of today’s marketplace and consumer behavior. Bad reviews - or even no reviews - will drive people away from your door when there are so many other choices.”

For example, positive comments from customers or clients produce an average increase in sales of 18 percent and that consumers are likely to spend 31 percent more because of positive reviews. Conversely, 22 percent of consumers won’t buy your product or service after reading just one negative review and four or more bad comments can take up to 70 percent of a business’s potential customers away.

Creating new keyword-rich content on a variety of social media sites as well as within your own website is just the start of putting in motion a proactive reputation management program. Generating an ongoing flow of first-person customers reviews is also a critical foundation component.

“For many businesses, the simplest solution is to outsource the work to other company, such as ours. We do what it takes to protect your online reputation by creating ongoing positive content that dominates Page 1 of any search, thereby protecting you with a barrier against negative content...keeping it suppressed and beyond the reach of those people searching out your name,” says Semadeni.

“When you look at the simply fact that in 2017, with most potential customers having a smart phone or device within speaking range, nearly all new purchases where the consumer doesn’t already have a favorite merchant in mind, that smart device will be called upon to make recommendations, and with those recommendations will be reviews by prior customers, and with those reviews will come a rating between one star and five. So the reality of today is that your potential customer will be making their own decision about your reputation even before getting to know you...all based on information they find out about you that is floating around in the Internet. If you don’t think this will have a huge impact on your business now and in the future, get yourself some coffee and wake up. It’s only going to get worse for you unless you take action drive positive customers reviews that show up online,” says Tony Semadeni.

Business Checkup LLC

Since 2010, Business Checkup founder Tony Semadeni and his team has been committed to helping small business owners compete with the big companies and rise to the next level by providing outsourced advertising and digital marketing services tailored specifically to meet the needs of local “neighbor” businesses. For more information on 5-star customer review systems, visit www.businesscheckup.info .
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