"Word-of-mouth is not what it used to be," writes Bob DeStefano in an article at MarketingProfs. "Just 10 years ago, upset customers, or raving fans, could spread their opinion about your business only to their family, friends, neighbors, and work colleagues." Now, however, a simple Google search displays unhappy vitriol to anyone researching your company, product, or service.

To help you reduce the number of negative reviews you get—and lessen their impact on your online reputation—DeStefano offers these tips:

Overwhelm negative reviews with positive content. Publish educational articles, press releases, whitepapers, videos, and presentations at your website, social networks, and other influential websites. When you produce relevant content, it pushes negative reviews down the page in search results.

Monitor comments and feedback. You won't know if there's trouble unless you're paying attention. "Determine the sentiment of your mentions, and prioritize them based on the risk to your reputation," DeStefano suggests.

Create a response plan. Decide what types of negative comments will require a response and—depending on severity—the speed of turnaround.

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