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If you own a small business, chances are people are not only searching for your business by name, they may also be researching you. I’ve had this happen a few times lately.

Since many of my SEO gigs are by word of mouth referral, most people have no idea initially who I am. So some go online and do a search. I only have good things showing up in the first few pages of results. Luckily for me, I haven’t pissed off too many clients.

Or have I?

There’s a new thing now that some SEOs are offering – reputation management. It is just what it sounds like. If you’ve made some clients mad or had a bad experience, and the person happens to be Internet savvy, they could trash your reputation pretty easily. They could easily rank those mean reviews for your name – thus scaring away potential clients.

A well written and scathing review or website can dramatically hurt a business or business owner financially. Keeping those reviews ‘in check’ by searching out your name every once in a while isn’t a bad idea. If you do start to see bad things, you should definitely consider hiring a firm that specializes in fixing these problems, or by subscribing to a few websites that can help you track some of it yourself. Here are a couple:

  • is a professional networking site where you can set up alerts in your profile to let you know who is looking at your profile.
  • – a “reputation community” will let you know who’s looking at your profile, and even keeps ‘score’ of their communities best and worst.
  • Linked In – the most popular of the self-promotion websites. LinkedIn will give you hints about who’s checking out your profile as well, and if you pay, they’ll even tell you exactly who it was doing the ‘checking out’.

For my not-so-Internet-savvy clients – try these different searches

  • First Last
    This will be the most common way people search for you
  • First Last
    Putting the quotes around your name will force the search engine to look for that exact phrase, instead of just those two words somewhere on the result page.
  • First Last” -keyword
    If you have a more common name, you may need to pare the results down a bit. You can do that by putting a minus in front of common words that show up for other people with your name.
    Example: “Will Hanke” -doctor
    Example: “Will Hanke” -pastor -Minnesota
  • First Last” +keyword
    Along the same lines, you can find websites that mention you by using keywords that describe yourself. You can also mix the plus and minus signs to tweak your search even further.
    Example: “Will Hanke” +hosting
    Example: “Will Hanke” +hosting +Missouri -doctor

You can of course use these same searches for your business name. If its a more common name, you may need to delimit a few cities to find out just what people are saying about your business.

Lastly, I highly suggest you set up a few Google Alerts that can let you know when something new has been indexed by Google that may be interesting to you. Use the above searches (whichever one you found produces the best results about you).

Now every time Google indexes something that matches your search query, they’ll email you with a link to the website containing the mention. What more could you ask for?

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