Running a business is hard work, there’s no disputing that. It’s hard enough to properly promote and market your business to your target audience. Dealing with damage to your reputation or false rumors about your company could severely impact your sales, causing negative effects for months or even years. That’s why it’s so important to try to nip rumors in the bud as soon as they arise.

You see, when rumors develop about your company and spread online, they can gain serious traction, especially if people start talking about them on social media sites. Once this happens, negative information about your company could go viral, popping up in Google searches for your company. For the most part, as soon as people see something negative about a company surface, they run in the other direction. Can you imagine the impact of sites posting negative material about your business outranking your own site in an online search? You’d be in serious trouble.

This is the kind of problem you want to avoid. That’s why it’s important to understand why fast action is so critical.

Think ahead.

Let’s say you’re just getting your business off the ground floor. While you’re buying a domain name for your site, consider buying up the domains for all variations of it. That includes all domain extensions as well as sites that contain your business’s name along with negative words. This way, none of those domains would be usable for throwing up a site to disparage your image. It would be difficult to create a domain that’s directly related to your company name, which would make it difficult for them to consume your site traffic.

Another way to prevent spreading of negative net information is to invest time in proper web marketing. By having your site search engine optimized, it’ll always show up at the top tier of search results (i.e. the first page), making rumors harder to travel up the ranks.

Take a stand and face rumors head on.

If the rumor is really persistent, you can always address it head on by including information about it on your company’s website. While this could have the negative effect of informing users unaware of the rumors, this tactic is a good way to show you’re open and honest about your business practices, and have nothing to hide.

Should a nasty rumor take hold about your company, sometimes all you can do is address concerns on social media sites, as well as your company site. If people ask you about it, take the time to answer. You don’t want to appear as though you’re hiding anything. Instead, provide honest answers to people’s questions, even if their tone is negative. Of course, you don’t have to respond to people who are abusive.

Many companies find that after going through the experience of suppressing a rumor, they’re more solidified in their mission, and thereby, more driven to pursue their goals. Ideally, you will never have to address false information about your business, but, because we live in the information age, sometimes misinformation will contaminate the web. Do your best to face these challenges head on and your company shouldn’t experience lasting negative effects.