What does your digital footprint say?

By now, you might have heard the term “reputation intelligence,” and while it’s afancy phrase, it is something all business owners need to pay attention to. Reputation intelligence is the awareness and management of your online footprint. Your business’s online footprint is everything out there on the World Wide Web that has to do with your company.

Why does it matter? Things such as review sites, directory pages and social media all affect your search-engine optimization (SEO) and search-engine ranking. Hundreds of directory sites exist all over the Internet for a number of different industries, and it’s likely that your business has been added to at least a few of these directories – without your knowledge.

Directory sites often have a strong SEO presence, because they get a lot of daily traffic. So if your information is correct, they can work in your favor. Unfortunately, since a third party is the one submitting most of the company information, the chance of your business address, phone number, hours of operation, etc. all being correct is unlikely. Consistency is key for search engines, so if your address is wrong on a number of these different sites, that can actually work against you!

What can you do? As mentioned above, consistency is critical, so the best thing to do is to verify and correct your company information on these sites.

Starting with your website, make sure your address is exactly how you want it, as this is the information you will use on every other website. Pay special attention to details – if you spell out “South” for your street address on your website, you want to spell it out everywhere. Believe it or not, something as simple as “S.” instead of “South” can actually hurt your SEO.

Next, visit the major directory sites – Google LocalYahoo! LocalBing Local – as well as any social media sites you may have an account on, and update any incorrect information. If have you haven’t already, claim your business; that way you can have greater access and be able to add more robust content.

The next step is to simply search for your company on each of the major search engines. See where else you might be appearing and whether any incorrect information appears.

The other important thing to do is to search for your business on the major review websites, such as YelpCity SearchLocal.comMerchantCircle.comJudysBook.com andAngiesList.com. See if your company is up there and what people are saying about you. It’s important to respond to any negative reviews and to create accurate profiles. These sites cost nothing to join and will go a long way in making sure that you are knowledgeable and in control of your online reputation.

This process might sound like a lot of work, but if handled a little bit at a time, it will go a long way in managing your online presence and in maximizing the SEO boosts of these sites. It’s important to continue to monitor the reviews that people write. In addition, once a month or so, repeat the process of searching for your company online to see what new directory sites might have been created.

written by: Alexandra Guth