If you want to be successful on the web, you want to make sure you build a solid reputation on the internet right from the start so that people have the right impression of you and your business.
According to Wikipedia, online reputation management can be described as actively monitoring, engaging and controlling the conversations on the web that pertain to your brand, product or service. It involves joining in the conversation and interacting with other users as well as watching for mentions that are happening for your branded keywords.
As a business owner, you need to make sure that you catch anything that may be negative and could adversely affect your online reputation and potentially hurt your business. This includes things like a negative online review or a listing that might be casting doubt and fear and preventing people from purchasing your product or service.
Consumer Behavior Has Evolved
Since the advent of social media, there has been a complete shift in the way consumers make purchasing decisions online. Consumers today are savvy and experienced. According to AdWeek, 81% of consumers conduct online research before they buy. The data provided by a detailed search can effectively influence a prospect’s decision-making process.
With unfettered access to information on just about anyone or business, consumers are doing their due diligence. They are searching for information, recommendations, research, reviews to ascertain the credibility of companies they want to do business with. They are involving others in their purchasing decision: it doesn’t matter whether it is a friend, a spouse, a work colleague, or people in their social network.
They are reading reviews from experts and everyday consumers, they are searching for comparison-shopping sites, and they are publishing questions on forums, blogs, social networking profiles, Twitter, and more.
Within seconds, consumers can find independent and accurate opinions of any business’s history through instantaneous Google searches. They are also gathering information by participating in conversations on social networking sites. So, it is not enough to simply represent your business online.
You also need to proactively manage and monitor web conversations and what users find about your brand, products, and services. This is because the information gleaned from Google searches is key to the entire decision-making process. Online reputation management (ORM) is a complex process, but it is also critical to the success of small businesses. A large part of a business establishing a strong online presence is managing your online reputation because that reputation is your most valuable asset.
Why Businesses Need to Manage Their Online Reputations
The Intеrnеt іѕ аn еxtrеmеlу vоlаtіlе ѕрасе. On оnе hаnd, it can be used as a very effective рlаtfоrm tо рrоmоtе рrоduсtѕ аnd ѕеrvісеѕ. On thе оthеr hаnd, іt саn bе a powerful tool uѕеd bу competitors or dissatisfied customers who feel wronged. If irate consumers are hell bent on exacting revenge, they can cause serious damage to the reputation of a company, product or service. This can have enormous repercussions for the company on the receiving end of this anger.
Consequently, businesses needs to monitor their brand’s online reputation. They need to ensure that any defamatory, malicious or slanderous entries do not appear when potential customers search for the brand online.
A business’ reputation online is so integral that it can turn it into an overnight success, or cause it to go bankrupt. You don’t want to be caught off guard when you find your brand being thrashed on the web. However, if you do not take a proactive approach to manage your reputation, you might not find out until it is too late.
There are a diverse variety of strategies you can use to effectively repair a damaged image online. However, the best way to manage and maintain your online reputation is to be proactive. You need to take every step to ensure that what people read about your company online is positive for the most part.
Using SEO to Manage Your Online Reputation
Search engine optimization is a highly effective method of presenting and promoting a brand to the masses. It also plays a key role in repairing, building and managing the information that appears about a brand online. SEO techniques such as content marketing are an integral part of any business’s arsenal when managing their online reputation.
While traditional SEO focuses primarily on how to increase the visibility of a business website so that it appears on the first page of any search engine, SEO for reputation management is focused on pushing negative information further back in search results and promoting positive information to the top. The actual tactics, however, are very similar.
While content marketing for traditional SEO is meant for driving traffic to a specific site, when it comes to reputation management it’s a bit different. Your goal should be to have content that reflects the business’ message dominating the first two pages or more of Google’s search results. That’s what you want people to see. So it doesn’t matter whether it’s showing up on your client’s site or someone else’s.
Positive Listings on Authority Sites
The most widespread SEO technique for building and managing a business’s online image is through the creation and promotion of positive listings on authority sites. Most people already have profiles on the biggest networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
However, for maximum effect you should be looking at several dozens of less well-known high ranking social sites. You can discover hundreds of such sites through social media search engines like Knowem.com.
Create profiles with your full name, company name and the product or service you’re trying to protect. Note that the creation of these profiles should be spread out over time. Creating one profile every other day will ensure that the entire process appears as natural as possible. Once you have created these profiles, you need to ping each listing to ensure that Google indexes it as soon as possible.
You can also take advantage of high quality web directories that allow your business to be reviewed. For example, if you’re a UK plumber, positive reviews on a popular plumbing web directory will help your online reputation and increase your online presence.
Creating profiles on authority sites is integral to protecting your reputation on the web, especially when there negative content about your brand showing up in branded searches.
The thing is, when you have lots of positive content on highly authoritative sites, it becomes much more difficult for people who post derogatory information about you or your brand to get their content the top of the search results pages because those positive listings will push negative listings down in searches for your brand name. This is very important, especially if you have a brand name that is not very common. Note that if your brand name is not very common, this process should be a lot more effective.
One very important thing you need to do is ensure that your social media profiles are not set to private. This is so that they can be indexed by Google. Enough positive listings such as articles, social media profiles, video, infographics, etc. on authority sites can knock off a negative review or listing to the third or fourth page of Google.
However, if there already is derogatory information on one or more authority sites, you have two options: wait patiently for the negative listing to be demoted in the search ranking, or build toxic backlinks to the negative listing and then ping those low quality links so that the page gets penalized by the search engines. Linklicious allows you to ping as many as 2,500 links per day, which should be sufficient to get the job done. It is important to note however, that this type of strategy will make no impression on highly trusted sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor.
Google Alerts to Monitor Your Online Reputation
Google Alerts is a versatile online tool that allows you to monitor your online reputation on a “real-time” basis and listen in on conversations you may not be a part of. This means if you wish to get notifications anytime conversations or relevant content are occurring about you, your brand, your products, services or your competitors, Google Alerts is the perfect tool.
The Google Alerts tool allows you to track specific keywords and phrases, so if anyone is has initiated any conversations or discussions about you or your brand, it will notify you. You can also choose to get an alert when any news stories have been released about a particular product or brand. With these alerts from Google, you’ll find out if any libellous or defamatory statements are being made about your brand fairly quickly, so you can take action immediately to protect your brand reputation. You can setup up to 1000 alerts per email address.