Whether you run a small business or you’re part of a marketing department in a larger corporation, you already know the value of maintaining a web presence. However, it’s not enough to establish your company in the online community. You also have to be proactive in ensuring your company has a strong positive reputation.

1. Build Lasting Relationships

The days of the hard sell are long gone. Now, consumers are looking for a deeper connection to their brands, and that’s going to take some effort on your part. While creating posts on social media sites is essential, so is responding to the comments on those posts. A simple “thank you” or “you’re welcome” will go a long way toward making your followers feel valued.

2. Ask for Reviews

Online reviews of businesses are growing in value and research has indicated this is one of the first things customers look for when researching a particular company. The problem is that people rarely write a review when the service was excellent. Mostly, these will be complaints from upset or unsatisfied customers. By asking for reviews from happier customers, you can add some balance to the image reviews give of your company.

3. Research Your Customers

Knowing your customers is one of the most important things you can do to maximize online reputation. It’s essential to know what people are saying about your company, good and bad. It can be easy at times to immediately look at the bad and see what needs to be fixed, but it’s also important to see what you’re doing right! The flip side of online reputation management is learning about the good stuff. It’s equally important to know why customers are buying the product and which features triggered a buying decision.”

4. Work with Influencers

Businesses are using social media influencers to market their products and, in so doing, they’re giving their credibility a boost as well. When online users see someone they consider a celebrity promote your business, they’ll be more likely to try your products or services.

5. Create Quality Content

It isn’t enough to simply make posts advertising your products and, in fact, that can actually harm your online reputation. A better idea is to create posts that deal with your area of expertise but provide real answers that will be valuable and entertaining to online users. For instance, if your company sells golf equipment, you might write a post about the best ways to care for golf clubs.

6. Post Regularly

Another part of developing a positive reputation is to remain relevant by keeping a regular, consistent presence. Some services can help you schedule your posts, so you won’t have to make a point of being online only to update your content. This is helpful in determining the best times to post, as well.

7. Buy Up Your Domain Name Alternatives

The last thing you want is for a competitor or someone else to start a website that uses a domain name similar to your own. While that may be the worst case scenario, similar situations can harm your reputation. By buying your company name and/or the name you do business under with all possible extensions(.com, .org, .net, etc.), you can minimize the chances of this happening.

8. Monitor Your Competition

Every once in awhile you should Google your own name to get a good idea of the type of reputation you’re developing. You can also Google your competitors to gain insight into how they’re performing. By watching what others are doing and how the online community reacts, you can avoid making similar mistakes and may find new ideas for marketing your own reputation.

9. Build to Your Strengths

While you might start out using most of the social media sites available, over time, you’ll notice that you perform better on specific sites. Drop those other sites and focus on your more successful pages. For instance, if you get more user interaction on Facebook and Instagram, consider deleting your Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+ accounts.

10. Keep Your Eye on Your Objectives

As soon as you introduce your business to the online community, you should already know what you expect to gain from your time online. The easy answer is that you want to increase sales, but how? Do you want to network with other entrepreneurs? Discover new opportunities for expansion? Gain insight from your customers? Once you have a more specific objective, you can organize your time to focus on those objectives. A more targeted campaign can help you improve your online reputation.

How the public views your business will have a direct effect on how well your company grows. By paying attention to your online reputation and working toward improving it, you can benefit your business without diverting more money toward advertising. Sometimes, all it takes is connecting with consumers and forming strong bonds that will last. As you build new relationships and gain the respect of a few, you’ll find that your online reputation will grow by leaps and bounds.