Online Business Reputation Management in The Digital Age

It doesn’t matter if you’re the most knowledgeable about a subject. It doesn’t matter if your service or product is the best.

What matters, in the end, is your reputation.

Before the invention of the internet, if something went wrong, it was much easier to perform damage control.

Now, your business could be destroyed in the matter of a few hours with only a Tweet.

Even if it’s not even true.

Which is why online reputation management for business and even your personal protection is so important. Without proper monitoring, your business and own reputation could take a hit you simply can’t recover from.

We’re sharing with you our favorite tips and tricks to ensure your business earns the online reputation it deserves.

Do Not Opt Out of Business Reputation Management

We’ve all heard about big companies who took a massive hit due to bad press. Companies like BP after their latest oil spill.

And most recently the Weinstein Company declared bankruptcy because its reputation plummeted after a series of women began openly speaking about owner Harvey Weinstein sexually abusing them.

But even small companies need to practice vigilance when it comes to their online business reputation.

If you own a local restaurant and only have a website, you are leaving yourself open to problems.

If someone decides to Tweet about their bad experience at your restaurant, whether it’s unfounded or not isn’t the problem. The problem is that there’s a good chance that information will end up ranking higher than your website. Meaning, when someone does a search for your business, they find the negative review before they see your business.

Not a great way to make a first impression.

Expand Your Online Presence

One way to prevent negative reviews from ranking higher than your site is to expand your online presence.

If you haven’t already, get a Twitter, Facebook, and Googe+ account.

That’s just for starters.

The more competitive your market is, the better it is to make sure your company is found on additional social media sites. Try finding some sites that are industry specific.

LinkedIn is a valuable tool for many B2B, high-tech and/or professional businesses. It’s often useful to executives and employees to integrate with the site.

Visually-oriented businesses benefit from sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr.

And don’t forget videos. Most businesses benefit from sharing videos on sites like YouTube and Vimeo.

Finding the right keywords can help boost your online presence.  An SEO consultant from Chicago can help.

Negative Comments Won’t Always Destroy Your Reputation

Try as hard as we can, business owners have no control over our customers. And the customer isn’t always right. Sometimes, they’re downright crazy.

If a negative comment or content does pop up online about your company, don’t fear the worst.

There are strategies available.

First off, new content is always being added to the internet. Which means you can also add fresh content online.

It’s one of the best online reputation management strategies available.

And it’s pretty easy to do.

Just aggressively publish new informative content about your company, including any socially infused content like reviews and testimonials. This should help you regain control of the top 10 results for your brand on all the search engines.

Admit Your Mistakes

You can also tackle the problem head-on by going right to the source.

Often, reaching out directly to the person who made the online comment and openly admitting an error occurred is enough to make people give you a second chance.

Tell them how you plan to rectify the situation.

Do not respond immediately if you feel triggered by the comment. Instead, write to them saying you’ll get back to them shortly.

Another reputation management strategy that’s highly effective is to prevent harmful content from surfacing in the first place.

In other words, if you see there’s going to be a problem, handle it as soon as possible. Training employees on how to handle demanding customers is an effective strategy.

Avoid Online Arguments

Even if you’re entirely right and justified, having an online argument with someone rarely works out in your favor.

Often, you end up looking harsh, petty, or unprofessional.

If you’re emotionally wrought, you could end up saying and doing something to damage your reputation. Think of Laura Ingraham who recently came after a high school student using social media.

Within a few days of her inappropriate comments, a significant portion of her advertisers pulled the plug citing their discontent at her actions.

Instead, take some time to calm down before you take any action. Try to take your communications offline to reconcile.

Always try to be nicer in your online interactions than you think you even need to be. Your professional responses will carry far more weight around with your fans than being right ever will be.

Protect Those Associated With Your Brand

It’s not enough to handle the online reputation of your brand, you have to apply reputation management strategies for your key executives, including yourself.

People are researching more about a company than just reviews and stats.

They are researching those who are involved in that company.

To protect everyone and your brand, develop a strong social media presence for all founders, owners, and executives. This is especially important for people who are well known in their community.

While you may think that not having an online presence protects you, it’s not true. Instead, it can leave you wide open for anyone looking to slander you.

Make sure each executive has a dedicated bio page on your company website. It will rank in the top search results for their name.

Then, try to get as much media coverage about that person as possible.

That includes media articles, blog posts, and press releases.

They will all rank highly on search engines and help to build up credibility, trust, and an excellent reputation for that individual.

Build Relationships With People Online

One of the best online reputation management strategies is to build relationships with your audience.

Much of managing your reputation has to do with how many people believe what is being said about you.

Create a brand people love and respond positively to, and it’s possible to weather nearly any storm you encounter.

Think about the myriad number of celebrities who effectively manage their reputation online. No matter how many times someone like Charlie Sheen messes up, he tends to walk away with his reputation unscathed.

Keep reaching out to your fans, followers, and customers to let them do the fighting for you. It’s easier to manage your reputation when others feel connected to you and feel the need to defend you.

Start A Blog

There are a few reasons why starting a blog is a good idea. It’s great for SEO because it helps your website rank for your target keywords.

A blog is also an excellent hub for your social media accounts.

But for online reputation management purposes, not only can you use a blog to rank your name, the blog provides the ability to quickly and efficiently respond to any significant assertions made about your company.

For a complete guide to starting a blog, check out:
How to Start a Blog: The Beginner’s Guide

Listen To Your Customer’s Feedback

While it’s difficult for most business owners to hear negative feedback about their business, sometimes it’s what we need to hear.

If you’re getting the same type of online complaints or bad reviews, it’s time to consider a potential flaw in your current process that needs addressing.

Now is the time to be flexible rather than upset. Devise a creative way to give customers what they want without creating any further friction.

Sometimes the solution is relatively easy. A seemingly dumb business practice or unnecessary service fee can make a customer feel like they’ve been ripped off.

And just because you can get people to pay more, doesn’t mean you should.

Doing so could end up driving both your current and future customers into the arms of your competition.

Monitor Online Activity

One effective reputation management strategy is to monitor for any online activity about your organization and executives.

This helps you to understand what other people think about your organization. You’ll also see when your company brand is mentioned and in what way.

There are a few tools you can use to monitor your organization’s online activity.

Google and Yahoo both allow you to sign up to receive alerts. You can create a new alert for your business, specific keywords, and for any top executives.

You should also create a search for your brand, any handles and usernames, and any products you sell.

Don’t forget to do a Twitter search and use Social Mention.

This is helpful because whether you find positive or negative feedback, you can take immediate action.
And it’s a useful tool to help you develop your brand and improve online and offline business practices.

Ask For Reviews

Don’t just wait around for someone else to develop your best online reputation management strategies.

Be proactive and start asking your customers to leave reviews.

A whopping 84% of online shoppers say they trust the reviews other people leave. About the same number do an online search before they make a purchase.

Have a page built on your website so your customers can easily leave reviews for your products and/or services.

Set up an e-mail to ask your customers to leave reviews on Google.

The more sites where there’s an opportunity for your business to receive a review, the better visibility your business receives.

Manage Your Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score reflects how often a customer refers a specific business to their friends, colleagues, and family members.

It also shows whether a company is doing a decent job satisfying customer needs. As the score increases, it reflects that the business is doing well by meeting their customer’s needs.

Those same customers then refer the business to others and come back time after time.

Consider Your Brand And Products

Many companies have more than just their company name to promote. Their brand and products also need an online presence.

An SEO expert will recommend developing content to rank for those names and products as well.

That includes developing websites, web pages, social media profiles, and even collateral materials so you can claim and reserve each brand and product name.

The more opportunities you have to get your name, product, brand, or company name out there, the easier it is for others to find out about you.

Make The Investment

You should consider your reputation management strategy to be an investment. It’s an investment in both time and money.

Most small, local businesses ignore taking proactive reputation management strategies, or they’re trying to do it all by themselves.

Usually, that means doing it on a shoestring budget and doing it only when they have the time or absolutely have to handle something.

An SEO consultant will disagree with you. Instead, that expert will tell you that online reputation management and social media are vital elements of your marketing and business strategies.

You’re doing your business a disservice if you consider either social media or proactive reputation management to be an added plus rather than a necessity.

Hire A Professional

Even if you do have the time, it’s usually best to let the professionals handle your online reputation.

A Chicago SEO expert isn’t going to get triggered by your negative reviews. Instead, they’ll help you develop a strategy to learn, grow, and make a customer happy.

They also know how to handle all the back-end stuff like setting up web pages, websites, and creating online profiles.

We’re experts in SEO and business reputation management. And we love helping businesses grow and succeed. We want to optimize your business, so it continues to receive positive reviews and always ranks high on searches.

And we want to educate you on best SEO practices and online reputation management strategies. One way to do that is to start by finding out your SEO score.

Click here to find out what your score is.