Have you Googled your company name lately? This is an action that should be taking place regularly. Googling (or Binging, or Yahooing, etc.) your name allows you to approximate your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking, and, for pete's sake, I hope you occupy the top Google spot when you search for your own name!

Additionally, it allows you to scan the various review sites that may include comments on the service you offer. And, trust me, there are lots of them out there for you to explore (Yelp, Angie’s List, Yahoo Local, Citysearch, Bad Contractor Reviews, etc.).

Did you know that some bad reviews may be deleted? But, please carefully consider who you work with when pursuing this service as many companies claim to execute, very few deliver. The Wall Street Journal published an article on Aug. 6, 2012, titled, “Hoping to Fix Bad Reviews, Not So Fast,” by Angus Loten, which examined this very topic. In the article, Darnell Holloway, of Yelp, mentions that only members of Yelp’s user-support team have the ability to delete negative reviews from its site.

And, while many review sites won’t allow reviews to be altered, there are several ways to combat such negative publicity, including writing a personalized follow-up explanation and offering the disgruntled author compensation or discounts, if applicable. Another option consists of personally connecting with the reviewer, rectifying the situation, and asking the reviewer to edit or delete his or her comment. Also encourage the user to submit a follow-up note acknowledging that you’ve connected with him or her and that you’ve adequately solved his or her issue.

And, if the individual is being unruly and slanderous, perhaps you could propose to settle the dispute in a court of law.

If you need help identifying where such reviews are being posted, check out Brandify, which searches social-media sites for mentions of a company name.

As a business owner, you must protect your online identity, because this is how most new-age customers will first encounter your company. Your Web image is priceless. An unaddressed negative review could be the sole reason John Doe elects to call your competition instead of you.