You work hard at establishing credibility for your business online. It only makes sense, therefore, to protect it. The good news is that it doesn't take hours every day to monitor your online reputation. In fact, you can do it just minutes – and for free – with the right tools. Here are a few.
Google Alerts is one of the easiest ways to keep an eye out for mentions of your brand. Simply enter the search terms you want to track (brand or business name, CEO name, etc.) and receive an email once per day when those keywords are found on the Web.
Google Blog Search is an ideal tool for monitoring the blogoshpere, which is still alive and well in this social media-crazy world. Blogs play a big role in content on the Web and increasingly, they influence major media coverage. Use this tool to see what the bloggers of the world (and commenters) are saying about your brand. You can narrow results by date and timeline, set up alerts and subscribe to a blog search feed through Google Reader.
Twitter Search provides a nice view into the social conversation around a brand and has the bonus of often containing links to the original sources. Although the sample size is limited to Twitter users (and not representative of the Web as a whole), if something is mentioned on Twitter it's a good bet that the rest of the Web is already talking about it or not far behind. Search for your brand or company name, including "@" mentions and hashtags. Services like Hootsuite and TweetDeck can make the process even faster. Facebook monitoring is also recommended.
Your Own Analytics are critical to reputation monitoring. Look for unusual spikes in traffic and drill down to find where those hits are coming from and what keywords are being used to search your brand. It might be that someone is discussing your brand on a forum, blog or social site.
Yelp.com is not just for restaurant reviews. Yelp is used by millions of users to scope out businesses of all kinds. Once you claim your business listing on Yelp, several tools are available to monitor your standing on the site. Use the "Rating Details" link at the top of the review page to see star rating distribution and ratings over time.