This is a guest post from Sam Peters

Online reputation management is the art of monitoring every aspect of your personal or business identity on the World Wide Web. Without effectively accounting for negative online content or concerning yourself with what does or doesn’t show up in a specific web search for your brand, your marketing tactics will never see optimum results and may in fact even be harming your brand instead of helping to build it.

A quick run to Google will show you that an array of online reputation management firms exist. While such services are sometimes necessary for extreme cases of online brand sabotage, the majority of the work that goes into safeguarding and monitoring your Internet reputation can be done by yourself. Preparation is essential, and anyone who considers themselves a halfway decent DIY marketer should discover they’ve already done most of the following:

Buy Key Domains?

If you’re a life coachand your name is Edna Blair then you should own EdnaBlair.com, EdnaBlairLifeCoach.com and LifeCoachEdnaBlair.com. Even if you only use one of these domains to build your site around, owning the others keeps someone else from buying them later and potentially using them against you. In addition, you could always take the extra step in proactive reputation management and buy similar domains with negatives mixed in (EdnaBlairisBad.com, etc).

Join Every Social Network

As anyone with even a shred of web marketing know-how is aware, social networks are extremely popular. Searches wherein names or specific company names are entered will almost invariably result in any and all social network profiles of these entities showing up in the top five hits. Being in control of the top results of a search of your brand is not only good for SEO, it’s vital for keeping your online reputation safe by suppressing negative content.

Create Content

The best way to build a wall that keeps negative content out of the top search rankings is to have a plethora of positive content serve as competition. If you’re an established business success then this may already exist in the form of reviews and blog posts, but those starting out should focus on getting this stuff created. Either contact popular bloggers with the offer of providing them with a free taste of your service in exchange for a open air plug, or write guest posts promoting yourself. Just don’t go overboard three new positive posts a week is plenty.

Be a Good Businessperson

While we like to envision every keyboard warrior out to get us as an unjustly angered trilobite many instances of negative online attacks stem from authentically unsatisfactory experiences. If you offer a worthy product or service, address customer dissatisfaction accordingly, and resist the urge to engage in shady marketing tactics, then you probably won’t see very many attacks made against you. But when they do appear, approaching the situation in a calm and calculated manner can not only diffuse the present situation, but prevent further negative content being created online.

Protecting your online reputation is the first step in developing an effective web marketing strategy. Without a reliable online identity, no amount of advertising and awareness will help your brand grow stronger. But as you’ve just discovered, DIY online reputation management is simple to do. When it comes to the world of online brand building, few things are.