We live in a search happy digital world. Before any customer considers doing business with your company, they’re going to Google you first.
So it’s very important that your brand has a strong online presence. Creating honest, sharable, easily searchable content is your best defence against a negative comment or review appearing first in a search result for your company.
Have you ever Googled your company, or yourself for that matter?
Maybe you found some pages, a Facebook page or a website you have no relationship with.
If those pages happen to be negative than you have a problem on your hands.
Making the effort to alter how your name, business or brand appears in the search engines is called online reputation management.
Online reputation management in its true nature is a form of search engine optimization, which aims to populate the internet with as much positive or neutral content to your advantage.
Although content that is irrelevant or damaging is hard to remove, it may be drowned out so that only relevant and positive content shows in the search results.
If the task of online reputation management is already a challenge for individuals, you can only imagine what businesses have to go through to deal with all kinds of content, some even ranking very high in search engines.
If you haven’t been paying attention to your reputation on the internet, you are making a big mistake. Your reputation on the internet is just as important as your reputation off it. In fact, 72% of consumers say that positive online reviews make them trust a local business more.
Before you write off online reputation management, ask yourself
Can my business handle negative publicity?
You can test it out yourself. Google the name of a very popular brand or individual and you will probably find something negative somewhere. Whether it be in the form of a dedicated website focused solely on bashing you or a bad review on a review site, all these things can affect your reputation.
Whether or not negative publicity for such businesses is based on truth or fiction is irrelevant to search engines.
Whether or not review sites take advantage and probably extort businesses with bad reviews is questionable. What isn’t questionable is the fact that anyone, be it your direct competitor or an unhappy customer, can post reviews on online websites, such as these.
Here is an example of a disgruntled customer of British Airways airing his frustrations on Twitter.
Or how fast food giant McDonald’s thought it was a good idea to re-brand their mascot and make him more social under the new hashtag #ronaldmcdonald; was greeted with comments like this.
This auto repair company had to shut down operations because of reviews like this
How do you fight negative reviews?
To combat negative reviews, many businesses encourage their customers with positive experiences to post positive reviews on relevant websites.
Some businesses resort to making their own websites to fight bad website about them by outranking them in search results. Review posting and website creation, are just some of the many tools businesses use to manage their online reputation.
The following five tips below are some of the best things you can do to protect your reputation online and have a strong presence reputation as well as boost your credibility.
- Keep your website up to date
Your website is the first place people go when researching your business, so leaving a strong first impression is of the utmost importance.
One of the things you need to pay attention to is your landing page, contact information and service or product offerings.
Your company bio page is also a good place to start.
People feel comfortable working with a company that isn’t afraid to show off the members of its team. Writing strong bios for your employees is a very good way to introduce the people building your company while at the same time humanizing your brand.
A strong bio includes the individual’s name, profession, area of expertise and past experiences. Always remember to add major career highlights, accolades or any other notable accomplishments.
Lastly, provide space for hobbies and interests and extracurricular activities, which gives your customers a much more complete picture of you, your employees and by extension, your business.
By keeping your website up to date and providing an extensive bio page, you can establish your business as legitimate.
- Create a blog for your business
A company blog can do more than just increase your visibility in search engines; it can also drive traffic to your site and is a good way to build relationships with your customers. You can read more about that here.
But perhaps most importantly, a company blog can establish your business as an industry leader. For example, if you are continuously providing content and the latest insights into industry trends, that provides your company with both authority and exposure.
- Manage Online Reviews
Perhaps it is not surprising that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal ones. Sharing your customers’ positive experiences on your website is a great way to create good expectations.
On a good note, having a large number of positive reviews will in the long run balance out any negative reviews that may pop up later in the future.
The best way to get more positive reviews for your business is to treat your customers with respect online and offline.
That means taking the time to read and respond accordingly to your customer’s complaints. Some companies don’t do this and instead reply with automated messages. When you respond to customer complaints with automated messages you won’t be doing yourself any favors.
Trust me, it will be reflected in the online feedback. In addition, make life easy for your customers by ensuring the process of writing a review is simple on your website.
You should also advertise the fact that you would like to hear from your customers. In that regard, you can consider putting a call to action in your email signature, on your website or even on a sign in your store’s window.
- Socialize relevant company content
Not only do popular social media websites like, Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube rank high in search results, but they are great places to push out company news and content.
If you happen to be doing something newsworthy, make sure your customers know about it. Sharing recent press, upcoming events or notable company announcements over social media is a great way to show that your company is active and relevant.
Simply put, the more social media sites your company is on, the more of its search results you control.
- Don’t ignore your personal brand
You should want for your business the same thing you want for yourself. That’s the golden rule. If you develop your personal brand the same way you develop your company’s brand, you’ll have even more visibility and control over your business’s results in search engines.
In many cases, it is a common thing especially when your business is starting up, your name is Googled more than your business. It’s important, then, for potential investors, clients and employees to find a positive representation of you online.
Your online reputation can be the thing that makes or breaks your business.
Online reputation management is the best lead-generation approach you really don’t have to buy. If you are proactive and do it the right way. Never assume that bad reviews about you will disappear by themselves.
It pays to be smart and be prepared for the road ahead. Your reputation follows you everywhere you go so you need to protect it.
Do you have any other tips to protect your online reputation? Let me know in the comments below.