So you’ve chosen to work on your company’s online reputation, hoping to clean up messes and boost profits at the same time. When will you know that your work is really done? When is a reputation really and truly fixed?

I have a few ideas.

When you’ve done the work, your company’s online reputation will have every single one of these attributes. Here we go.

1. You rule Google’s front page.

Typically, Google returns pages and pages of results in response to a standard query. But, the results on the very first page matter most. Get this: Research suggests that the results that appear on Page 1 of a Google search get a whopping 32.5 percent of the traffic. Results on Page 3 get only 11.4 percent of the traffic. Clearly, controlling that front page is key to an excellent online reputation.

If a search on Google for your company’s name brings back nothing but good news on that front page, you’re well on your way to an excellent online reputation. If you can continue that winning streak and rule Pages 2 and 3 too, you’re doing even better.

2. Google’s auto-correct says nothing nasty.

As soon as you start typing your company’s name on Google, the site will attempt to determine what you’re looking for, and it will add key phrases to your typed search terms. Watch those little autocomplete phrases closely, just to see how on track you are with your correction work.

If you’ve done your work properly, you’ll see words like:

  • Awesome
  • Good deal
  • Location
  • Best
  • Ideal

You won’t see terms that cast your company in an unflattering light. (Google will do some of this work for you, according to the company FAQ, as the site removes words that could be considered vulgar.)

Why does this matter? Think of it this way: That autocomplete urges people to click on articles that say something bad about your company. The autocomplete makes an attack just a little more sticky. If you haven’t eliminated those phrases, you have a touch more work to do.

3. Mugshot misery is all gone.

Your company’s key executives are individuals, and as such, they have a right to do all sorts of things in their off hours that your company might not approve of. But, mugshot databases can make an executive’s private problem a company’s public disaster.

Some mugshot websites look for executives at top companies, and they write up press releases and extra content when they see that these professionals are arrested. If your company is big enough, that could be a problem for you.

But even if you’re small, it might be easy for a corporate mugshot to become a big problem. If your CEO is arrested in the city in which you do business, and your CEO’s name is on your company website, that arrest could be tied to your company in no time flat.

If you can run searches for key players at your company and find no arrest records at all, you’re on the right track to an excellent online reputation.

4. Your company has glowing online reviews.

Websites like Yelp are key to small business success, especially if they’re packed with comments about the wonders of the products you sell and the service you deliver. Each little review demonstrates how much your real, live customers love you. Making sure that all of your reviews are positive is a key part of building up a strong and solid online reputation.

5. Those results stick for months at a time.

With a bit of hard work and sweat equity, you could get these results and hold onto them for 24 hours. But if your rechecks show that your gains were fleeting and that all of the old problems are back and bigger than ever, it’s time for a bit more work.

In fact, it might be safe to say that true reputation management is a project that’s never really done. Your company might face new challenges next month that it didn’t have last month. And next year, you could have a whole new suite of issues to handle. That’s why it pays for you to be on guard, always looking over your company’s reputation carefully. Doing so can help you to ensure that you’re really keeping things as clean and clear as you can.

But, if you can prove that you’ve done your work, because your company has all of these attributes, you’re sure to handle any challenge that comes your way. And if you’ve achieved that kind of success, drop me a note in the comment section! I love to hear success stories.

Photo credit: Stuart Miles via