Unfortunately, though, many companies still live in the dark when it comes to being proactive about their personae online and find themselves in dire straits when trying to catch up.
"Most companies sit in what I call reputation oblivion," Caver said. "They have their head in the sand and they have no idea. And then all of a sudden they get into firefighter mode when someone says, 'You had a horrible review on Yelp.' "
To begin to address this, businesses must first determine if the bad reviews are just a one-off incident or stem from a larger issue.
"The first thing I ask my clients is: Do you have an online reputation problem or do you have a problem?" Caver said. "Because it could be you have an online reputational issue because someone was upset about something that has happened, but it's not actually the way you do business and it's not what most people are saying about your company."
If larger issues can be ruled out, Caver said the company needs to regain control of the conversation by creating strong online content about the company, as well as encouraging transparency. This should include not only allowing reviews, but embracing and responding to them, she said.
"Know your channels and what people are talking about. Know all the touch points into your brand and have some view into them and how you monitor them," Caver said.
Increasingly, more businesses are hiring reputation management firms to help them with these tasks.
Reputation.com, for example, has seen an uptick in business coming from companies looking to better manage their online reputation.
While the company is widely known for its services aimed at helping individuals improve their online presence by pushing negative content further down in search results, it now sells much more than search remediation to businesses.
Among other things, it will monitor what customers are saying in online reviews, help manage social media and track company listings. However, depending on the size of business and the tier of services, selected prices can range from hundreds of dollars a month to more than $1,000 per month.