Having a website opens up your business to new customers around the world, but it also opens up your site and your brand to those that want to piggyback on your success. There are actually programs that go out there and crawl the Internet, sometimes called scrapers, and essentially steal all of your content. This means that potential customers wouldn’t know if they were visiting your business site or not and that is bad news for you. These scrapers are just one reason why protecting your brand online is an important part of doing business in today’s web-centered world.
KnowEm is a great service for business owners. The company’s service will track and monitor the use of your brand, username or trademarked term on hundreds of social media sites. Yes, hundreds. There are many more sites out there beyond the 8 social media tools that your small business needs to be using. While you work on getting your brand out there on the first eight social media sites, KnowEm will work on keeping track of hundreds of other sites so your brand name is available when you’re ready to expand.
You can set up an ego feed for free using Google Alerts. Simply enter the word or term that you would like Google to track, which sources the search engine should use and the frequency that you’d like to be notified of the usage of the term. While it won’t catch every mention of your business or brand name out there, it is certainly a start and well worth the price tag.
Trademarks & Copyrights
Although you can start a business without a trademark or copyright, it is worth your while to go ahead and do so now. You can use the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to search for the national availability of your brand and if it is available, submit a trademark application online.
If images and photographs are a big part of your business, you should also register the images with the appropriate copyright office. For more information on this process, read How to Register the Copyrights for Your Photographs.
Make sure your site is included in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. This tool is fun to use to see how your favorite sites have changed over the years but it is also a good way to keep track of your own site over the years. The Wayback Machine will date and timestamp your site and it can be used for reference if you ever need to prove what content was on your site at a given point.
Consider hiring a reputation management company. One example is ReputationDefender. The company’s MyEdge Pro service includes a personal reputation advisor, a profile optimizer, a social media, a search engine consultant and more. Essentially, reputation management service providers help control what a potential customer will see when they use a search engine to research your business. By outsourcing this process you’re letting the professionals focus on what they are good at and you can focus on what you’re good at – building your business.
Build a Relationship with Bloggers
Even if you have a blog on your website or hire a few bloggers to provide fresh content to your site, you still need to take the time to build a good relationship with bloggers. In today’s always-on world, bloggers can help your improve your online reputation or quickly tarnish it.
Take the time to learn more about the bloggers that cover your industry and build a relationship with them. Make sure that you are genuine in your communication and honestly work to build a professional relationship instead of just pitching the blogger out of the blue. Darren Rowse has a great post on ProBlogger that can help guide you in this process: How to Pitch to Bloggers – 21 Tips. Although the post is three years old, it is still relevant.
Of course there are many more ways to protect your brand online and depending on the size of your business, you could have an entire staff dedicated to this process. However, if you’re just starting out these tips will help you get started with protecting your brand online.
If you’re a seasoned pro, what are you doing to protect your brand online?