Online reputation management is a hot term these days. There are companies out there that make a lot of money providing online reputation management services for companies large and small. But what is online reputation management and how does it play out for authors?
According to Wikipedia, online reputation management (or monitoring) is the practice of monitoring a reputation on the internet with a view to controlling perception of that reputation.
In other words, let’s say a potential reader hears about you, the hot new author on the market. He goes to Google or Yahoo or Bing and searches for your name. What does he then see? Ensuring that what he sees is going to make it more likely that he buy your book than not is what reputation management is all about.
So how can an author take control of his name or book title on the search engines? Here are three strategies…
1. Build an author website! Okay, I’m biased here, because that’s what we do for a living. But this is probably the most impactful thing you can do. Why? Well, let’s say someone searches for “Lisa Smith.” Do you know what’s most likely to be the top search result? Not surprisingly, it would be “LisaSmith.com” or “LisaSmithBooks.com.” The domain name is one of the primary pieces of an SEO strategy, so having a domain name that matches your name means that it’s likely your author website will show up right at the top of search results. And since a user is likely to then click on that top link, the you (or, in this case, Lisa Smith), is then taking full control of what a user is seeing. That’s online reputation management at its best.
2. Respond to comments. In today’s world of social media, it’s so important that authors interact with their readers. If a reader posts a comment or question about a book, the author absolutely must answer it. And while there’s not much that can be said in response to a negative book review, there’s definitely some value in an author interacting with her readers online. It helps her come across as more human, thus creating a warmer online reputation.
3. Pose (and encourage) positive book reviews. Picture this: someone hears about your book. He searches for your book title and ends up on your book page on Amazon or GoodReads. He’s bound to see reviews, right? But are they negative reviews? Or are they glowing reviews? Part of building a good online reputation is ensuring that the positive reviews outweigh the negative ones. There’s no book that everyone in the world is going to love, but people are definitely going to pay extra attention to the books that have far more good reviews than bad ones. So make sure that you ask everyone who raves about your book to post a review online. You may even want to offer a bonus for doing so; say, a free autographed copy. After all, a glowing review posted on a prominent site will sell you far more than the cost of that one copy.
4. Stay on top of what’s being said about you. Sign up for Google Alerts and get notified every time someone posts something about you or your book. Also, Google your name once in a while and see what comes up on the search results. It’s only by putting yourself in the position of a stranger hearing your name for the first time that you can actually recreate the experience of someone’s first impression. And only then can you work to improve that first impression.
See? Online reputation management isn’t just for multi-national corporations. By taking control of your online reputation, you are taking a huge step in building your business … even when that business is just you and your books.