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According to a Forbes article, as consumers, we’ve never had access to more information when it comes to deciding how and where to spend our money. Whether we’re looking for an accountant, roofing contractor or caterer, it’s the work of seconds to pull up consumer reviews and assess a company’s reputation. For consumers, the wealth of information is a powerful tool. Shoppers can find reliable companies. They can also uncover businesses with less-than-savory reputations.

But what does that mean for business owners? It means that your online reputation is incredibly precious. Your good reputation shines as bright as a beacon that leads new customers to your door, whether that door is literal or virtual. The problem is that the lack of an online reputation — or, worse yet, a poor online reputation — can be a big, big problem. Fortunately, it’s possible to polish up reputations in need of repair.

What Factors Affect Your Online Reputation?

Reputation management encompasses more than simply monitoring your customer reviews. Factors like Google search results play a part: If your company doesn’t appear high on the list of results for your key search terms, it may be hard for customers to find your business in the first place. The accuracy of results matters, too: A simple typo in your company’s description could mean that customers have trouble finding your business or determining your hours of operation.

Your company’s social media presence also factors into your brand’s reputation. The look, feel and level of professionalism of your website matters. And yes, your reviews matter, too. You need consumer reviews, and what’s more, you need authentic consumer reviews that reflect real interactions with your business.

Ways To Manage Your Online Reputation

Your online reputation is a complex, vital part of how customers perceive your business, and you have to manage it. How do you do that? There are three basic options. Depending on your unique business and other factors, you might use just one or some combination of the three.