Online reputation management is best used as a safeguard. True, reactive online reputation management does exist, but it has a much higher cost and offers fewer returns than proactive online reputation management. One of the biggest aspects of proactive online reputation management involves monitoring.
With the immediacy of publication on the Internet, it is easy for your company’s brand name to become tarnished. A disgruntled customer could take to social media and their posts could become viral. More impactful still, an entire campaign (including a full website and social media outlets) could be built by a former employee to mock your brand name and drag your products and services through the mud.
Yes, it sounds extreme. But, extreme or not, the online reputation of your company is open to attack at any time and from a wide variety of angles. Proactive online reputation management is not something that can be easily managed in-house. Partnership with an Internet marketing firm that specializes in online reputation and online brand management will allow you to have eyes and ears all over the Web, giving you the ability to thoroughly monitor the chatter surrounding your brand.
There are many avenues to explore when protecting a company’s online reputation, but there is a new threat that is getting a lot of buzz these days. It involves GTLDs and the new release of a wide variety of Internet domains. Have you heard?
Let’s start at the beginning; GTLD stands for generic top-level domain. A GTLD is the part of the domain name system of the Internet that is able to be viewed by regular users as the suffix at the end of the domain name.
The most common, of course, is .com, but there are other options available as well. Before 1998, there were only eight GTLDs available for use. This included .net, .com, and .gov, all of which are easily recognizable to the common Internet user. Seven more GTDLs became available in 2000. This wave included .biz, .museum and .info. Still more were added in 2004, but this crop was never widely used, though the GTLD .xxx did draw a wide net of publicity.
There has now been a release of more than 1,000 new GTLDs, giving your website the opportunity to be dot virtually whatever you want. This release provides an amazing opportunity for companies to brand themselves, but it also creates a large concern when it comes to online reputation management. With this many variations out there, how can a company ensure that their name is protected?
It is currently common practice for companies to purchase their name under several different GTLDs. Often, large companies also purchase their name with a variety of negative connotations attached as well. For example, “your business” would purchase yourbusiness.com, yourbusiness.net and yourbusiness.org as well as yourbusinesssucks.com and
badyourbusiness.com. Brand names that are easily misspelled might also purchase common misspellings or easy mistypings of their name to be safe – using the example above, that could include yourbizness.com or yourbusines.com. These sites would then redirect to the actual brand name site, or have a splash page available.
With the new GTLD options available, your company can now brand itself in a variety of different ways. Location-based GTLDs are sure to make a splash for customers looking to narrow down content, but sub sites for those focused on different aspects of your business will also help you to better organize content and serve your company’s customers with exactly what they are seeking. It all sounds so positive, so where is the problem?
There is a lot to control now. With these new GTLD extensions available, it will be more difficult for your company to protect its brand name, making it all the more imperative that you partner with an Internet marketing company that understands good proactive online reputation management tactics that will keep your brand safe. Brand damage, fraud and counterfeiting are already huge issues on the Web, and these new GTLDs could easily become another point of entry for those who are seeking to cause harm to your company’s good name. Disgruntled customers can easily purchase and create high-ranking content using the new extensions .gripe, .sucks, .safety, .exposed and .reviews, among others. GTLDs like .solutions, .online, .finance and .institute sound very official and could very well cause problems with fraud on sites that are geared toward the banking and mortgage industries. Finally, .shop, .discount and .deal could become great GTLDs to grab to keep those dealing in counterfeit goods from selling branded merchandise that appears to be from your company.
Trademarks and copyrights offer some protection against copycat sites, but they do not provide a catch-all. Internet marketing firms that specialize in online reputation management have full strategies to prevent breaches in brand name from occurring— and game plans for undoing any damage that has already been done. As the Internet landscape continues to grow, your company’s vigilance must grow as well.
Start protecting your company’s name against the online enemy by working with a strategic firm that can help you assess threats and assist you in purchasing the GTLDs necessary to keep your company’s online reputation at the very top of its game. Online reputation management in today’s world is no longer a luxury reserved for larger companies, but a must for any company that does business on the Internet.
There is great benefit in being proactive. Keeping the information you control at the top of search will help to make sure that anyone looking for your brand is able to find the real thing, without having to trudge through muddy waters. Good SEO is a hallmark of proactive online reputation management, and a general best practice for your company regardless of any unforeseeable risks. Reactive online reputation management can be done, but often after a heavy price is paid. You have worked hard to build your brand, you should also work hard to protect it.