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For those of you just popping online before work, I’ll give you the short answer: To immeasurable lengths. For those with a little more time on their hands, I’ll try to sum it all up the best I can, but don’t be surprised if I leave a lot of information out – this is a very broad topic.

In fact, I may not get very far from a single topic concerning how the Internet has changed, because something occured to me the other day, as to just how different the world is with the Internet, and how hard it would be for most of us to go back to the early 90’s, before everything we know and love about said Internet. What came to mind was not how many great resources for information are available thanks to the Internet, or how easy it is to book a hotel, buy a car, find a friend, or stay in touch. I’d like to say that the simple pleasures of popped into my head, but the thought was not so quaint.

No, my mind decided to remind me how easy it would be for a 13 year old to ruin me. Odd, I agree, but hear me out.

In 1992, what would a 13 year old need to accomplish in order to get his or her opinion seen, spread and confirmed? Perhaps a paper route, a friend who’s parents worked at the Daily News, a good deal of editing, a petition…the list could go on, but to quickly convey my point, that child would need to go to great lengths to have even a few hundred people see his review on the newest Nintendo game, or perhaps his favorite place to eat in his small town.

Fast forward to 2008, and what do we see on the Internet? Blogs, review sites, forums – and lots of them – many members on these sites of which are 13-18 year olds ranting about their uninformed opinions, trashing companies, and incoherantly attempting to disuade the world from making the same mistake they did by going with the cheaper model. Don’t let their lack of formal education and bad grammar fool you – these people have an amazing influence on the world.

But a few hundred-thousand teens aren’t so scary, right? What can they do to hurt your business? Well, imagine someone searches for your company because they can’t remember the website URL, and just as they’re about to click on your site they see the next search result, an excerpt from a high ranking blog: “Company makes crappy products”. Or maybe it’s worse. Maybe, the excerpt under the result, chosen by the search engine, reads something more like: “Company owner John Smith likes little boys”.

Yeah, that’s pretty scary.

Fear not, friend, the Internet is a very big place, so the chances of someone singling out your business over the rest is as unlikely as the number of businesses out there are many; but who really wants to take the chance? The fact is, simple Preventative Reputation Management can save you a huge hassle, as well as a lot of spend, later on.

The basic idea behind Reputation Management is to populate search results with positive content concerning your business, and it is much better if all those good pieces of information reguarding your business show up in the first 20 results, instead of those frightening 13 year olds who know more about the Internet than a lot of adults, with a brutal opinion, and 120wpm typing “skillz”.

If you’d like to know more about how to protect your online reputation, please don’t hesitate to contact an Internet Marketing Firm such as Reciprocal Consulting today, and ask how.

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