Nowadays, a business’s online reputation can make or break its success. With a customer’s purchase journey starting and ending on the Internet, it is incredibly important for any business to understand the ins and outs of online reputation management strategy.
But there are a lot of misconceptions of what online reputation management strategy is. It is more than just monitoring online reviews, checking news sites for your brand perception, and investing in public relations. When it comes to your reputation management strategy, every business owner, no matter the size of your company, can benefit from learning the basics.
What is Reputation Management?
Simply put, online reputation management (ORM) is the ongoing process of promoting, maintaining, and cultivating your brand name and its good standing everywhere that it appears online. See it as building your digital image; one that is easy to find, understand, and will resonate with potential customers, regardless of where they come across your brand name.
It may sound easy, but the internet is a big place. Becoming known, recognized, and loved in a sea of competitors that have been around for a while is an uphill battle for any brand. For big brands that are well known, maintaining your reputation in good standing all across the internet is a time-consuming task. Reputation managers do the hard work of helping brands execute reputation management at scale.
Perception is everything when it comes to your digital image. Since you aren’t able to speak directly to all of your consumers and potential customers, it’s important to realize that your internet presence is constantly speaking for you.
Why Do Companies Need a Reputation Management Strategy?
Just a decade ago, the Internet was a very different place. Companies were simply putting up small websites as a way to offer a convenient shopping option for their customers. Businesses were not engaging with people, they rarely had a social media account, and their websites were simple, with only a few pages in their layout.
Most customers were brand loyal and searched specifically for a certain business name, with little intention of changing their shopping habits and moving on to a competitor. And while this was great for consumers and shoppers alike, when the Internet boomed and more options came on the scene, things changed. Customers started having wandering eyes and wallets with the ever-present goal of finding the best quality item at the best price.
Because internet users now have access to thousands of products and service providers, there is a lot more that goes into the process of choosing your brand over your customers. Potential customers may read reviews of your products and services, check your social media accounts, look for news or articles about your brand name, or even read your Wikipedia page. Potential employees may comment on forums and job review sites about working at your company, and popular bloggers may choose to write unflattering reviews about your brand.
There are so many places on the internet where users may choose to right about you, and if those eventually become search results for your brand name, it has the potential to drastically impact the customer journey in a negative light. Any business owner should consider their brand management strategy as protecting their hard-earned customer satisfaction, boosting their brand reputation, and preventing any permanent damage to online reputation if a crisis unfolds.
If you are about to embark on an ORM strategy, don’t feel overwhelmed. Here are 5 ways to elevate your reputation management strategy.
#1: Audit Your Online Reputation
The first step in your reputation management strategy needs to be to see where you stand currently in terms of both positive and negative coverage and feedback. You do this via an online reputation audit.
Start off by asking yourself the following questions:
- How do you want your business to be viewed by people online?
- Who is your target audience?
- How will you find your target audience? For example, a younger population is more successfully targeted via social media channels.
- What details about your business would you like your target audience to know?
- Where online do you want to promote your business and its information?
- What action do you want your customers to take online. I.e, call you, sign up for a newsletter, and/or make a purchase?
From there, you’ll need to brainstorm any and all search terms your customers are using that you need to monitor. This can include your brand name, your industry, product and service names, sub-brands and/or categories, and geo-targeted phrases. For some extra ideas, you can use a keyword explorer to help you out, as they will provide extra analytic information on which of your branded search terms are actually being used by your potential customers.
The next step is to do some simple social media and search engine searches with these terms to see what customers, current and former employees, industry leaders, and others are saying about you. Setting up a Google Alert for your brand name is an easy way to start keeping track of where you are being talked about on the internet.
Once you compile all of this information, you’ll be able to get a clear impression of your online reputation and what steps need to be taken to positively boost your brand recognition.
#2: Revamp your Online Review Management
One of the major elements of reputation management strategy is online review management. According to BrightLocal, 75% of all online shoppers say they trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Combine that with the fact that a whopping 89% of all shoppers consult customer reviews before converting, then it is fair to say that reviews are an integral part of influencing the customer’s buying journey.
Just because you may have some negative reviews doesn’t mean that all is lost. By investing in a revamp of your online review management, you can make it easier for your customers to leave a review, therefore making a better user experience, and hopefully, a positive review of your services.
Some questions to consider when thinking about where your online reputation stands on major third-party review sites:
- Do the positive reviews outnumber the negative reviews?
- Have you responded to these reviews, and if so, did the client end up happy and satisfied in the end?
- Are there any themes in your negative reviews such as lack of customer service, slow shipping times, or faulty website?
- Where are these reviews? Are they on your social channels, your website, your Google My Business listing, or third-party review sites like Yelp?
- Are the reviews recent? Or are a bulk of them from a few years ago?
- Do the reviews look like they have come from actual customers? A way you can check this is to look at the spelling of the review itself, as well as the poster’s name and picture. Most shoppers have online profiles with actual pictures of them and their names instead of an avatar and a screenname. If you are noticing a lot of random reviews filled with spelling mistakes by users without pictures, chances are, these could be bots and need to be addressed as so.
Here are some important details to include when you revamp your reviews and use them to your advantage.
Always, always respond to negative reviews.
Customers want to know that there is a face behind the screen. More often than not, when they leave a negative review, they would like to come to a solution with the business owner, so don’t ignore them. Make sure to respond!
Customer frustrations can easily be caused by a misunderstanding or something else trivial and small, so if you had the opportunity to change just one person’s experience, wouldn’t you want to?
Reach out to the poster, be authentic and genuine, and offer a solution that makes both you and them happy. Remember, a negative review can easily be turned positive when you use a little elbow grease.
Make it easy for you to be contacted.
Customers don’t want to add to their negative experience by having to search high and low for a way to contact you. So make sure to claim every listing your business is listed on, including Google My Business, Yelp, and social media, so your customers know it is you they are communicating with.
Additionally, put your contact info at the top and bottom of every page, and include your phone number, a specific email address, and brick-and-mortar physical address everywhere you can. You can even implement a chat widget on your website for faster, instant communication. Doing so makes you look and feel approachable.
Ask for reviews.
Sometimes, all you have to do is ask!
Search Engine Land found that 70% of customers will leave a review when explicitly asked to do so. So why not take advantage of this? Better yet, you can offer an incentive for writing a review, such as a free product or a coupon for a future service. This is one of the best ways to improve your reviews on sites like Yelp, Google My Business, and other popular review platforms. Doing this can really help you create an organic, or natural, pattern of reviews coming in.
#3: Earn more Positive Media with PR, Content Strategy, and Guest Blogging
There’s more to your brand’s online reputation than positive reviews and negative reviews, and it is crucial that you create positive messaging to the best of your ability. Content is king when it comes to digital marketing, and it is vital for your content messaging to be strong, consistent, and unique from your competitors.
The whole point of content development is to not only provide useful, valuable information to potential users, but to rank in search engine results for the keywords those users rely on to get more information about your brand, products, or services. Developing a content strategy isn’t all that hard, and the benefits not only extend to online reputation management, but to your keyword rankings, website traffic, and overall brand awareness.
Earning more positive media coverage, guest blogging, and contributing content is great way to get more positive digital locations ranking on page 1 for your branded searches. If you place content on high domain authority sites, they may stick around in the search results for years promoting your brand in a positive light. Not only does more off-site content promote your company as industry experts, it also puts your business in front of potential partners who are in your same niche and industry.
Sometimes, building relationships within your niche is all that you need to become a respected business, and in doing this, you set yourself apart from your competition as someone willing to work together for both of your businesses’s successes.
#4: Launch Link Building Campaigns to Improve Rankings of Positive Press Coverage
So once you have your positive content and press, you can help put the spotlight on those digital locations through fundamental building blocks of SEO like link building. Most websites focus on building links back to their website to improve their overall site authority, but when you get a great article about your business, you can also build links to improve its appearances in the SERPs.
This is a great strategy in particular for those brands who experience a barrage of negative press coverage due to a crisis or mishap. If these negative reviews, articles, or blogs are suddenly showing up for your branded searches, getting to work building links to your more positive digital locations can help knock those negative articles off page 1.
The more links you can build, the better, which is why a link building agency like ours that operates at scale can also provide SEO reputation services. We build links the right way, and we do so quickly.
#5: Hire an SEO Reputation Management Agency
As a business owner, it can be exhausting staying up-to-date with all the digital marketing trends out there. You have a business to run, and sometimes don’t have the extra time (or energy!) to ensure all of your marketing needs are met, including your online reputation management. This is where LinkGraph can come in: We can handle all of the heavy lifting for you.
We understand completely how one negative review can throw a wrench into your entire digital image. There’s a lot at stake when it comes to ensuring your business and brand shines online, and a professional reputation management agency has all the tools in place so you don’t have to add this worry to your daily business thoughts and concerns.
Plus, we will incorporate your online reputation management strategy into your overarching SEO and digital marketing goals. Our team will constantly monitor your brand’s online presence across all digital locations while incorporating SEO best practices.
At the end of the day, our goal is to set your brand and business up for success, and to show off your company in a professional and successful way. Schedule a free SEO consultation with one of our experts to learn more about how we can help elevate your reputation management strategy.