Whether you are a business owner, employee or job seeker, your online reputation is extremely important to your professional success. Both modern consumers and employers use search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing to find information about companies and people before doing business with them.

The proliferation of various social media and review websites such as Glassdoor, Yelp and others, make it easier than ever before to establish an online reputation. The bad part about it though, is that good reputations can be tarnished just as fast and easily; and once gone, they are extremely hard to get back.

But don’t despair, there are a few things you can do to re-establish your good name:

  1. Own up to your mistake.

If the negative online content about you or your company is justified, be upfront and acknowledge your mistake. Apologize if needed or explain what steps you’ve taken to prevent the incident from happening in the future.

  1. Create social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.

The main goal of any online reputation management (ORM) effort is to push the negative content down in search results. Creating a variety of social media profiles and updating them regularly with new content, will help ensure that this is what people will find first when searching for you or your brand.

  1. Try to take the negative content down.

Once negative content is posted online it is extremely difficult to remove. Still, you can try to reach out to the person who posted it and politely ask them to take it down. If the negative content is libelous in nature, you may consider taking legal action against the person or entity refusing to oblige.

  1. Start a blog.

Similar to the creation of social media profiles, frequently updated blogs serve as a good way to boost your website ranking and bring it up higher in search results. Check out this article on how to write informative and entertaining blogs for your business.

  1. Create a YouTube channel.

Google search algorithms favor video content and tend to rank it high in search results. Creating a video blog (vlog) may help to further bolster your ORM efforts.

  1. Monitor what is being written about you or your business online.

Regardless of whether your online reputation is as pristine as freshly fallen snow, or requires some tending to, it is important to keep an eye on how your name is being used online. A good (and free) way to monitor your online reputation is to set up Google Alerts for your name and/or company.

These are just a few of the numerous strategies professional ORM experts use to help clients monitor, protect and repair their online reputations. If this seems like too much work for your already busy schedule, then do seek help from a reputable reputation management company. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”