Most business owners fail to be proactive in managing their online reputation. It is only after disaster strikes and bad reviews or comments are affecting their revenue, that they are suddenly interested. Reputation management is not just for companies, but for people as well, and can be used to bury everything from drunken photos to medical information or even mugshots and arrest records.
What Is Online Reputation Management?
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the practice of making businesses and people look their best online, and to control the content that is found when searching for them. ORM also applies to how you respond to any negative reviews or comments.
Be Proactive In Managing Your Reputation
We encourage companies to solicit reviews as a standard business practice. Ask customers for reviews sooner, rather than later, even emailing them asking for their opinions. Make it as easy as possible for them to review your business.
Go ahead and claim all your social profiles whether you plan to use them or not. Knowem.com lists over 500 different social networks where you can register. Also, create content about yourself that you want to be seen.
Where Can Reputation Mishaps Occur?
There are many sites for reviews such as Google+ and Yelp, but reputation mishaps can also occur in the media, on social networks that you may or may not control, or on any number of hate sites like ripoffreport.com or pissedconsumer.com. Each area requires a unique response and differs in both strategy and tact.
How To Address Negative Reviews
You must decide as a company on how to address a negative review. If a review is false it can sometimes be flagged or removed, and some sites may require a court order for removal which means a lawsuit first. If you wish to address criticism, do so quickly and politely. Never get into an argument online. Try to get the person to take it offline and have a phone conversation instead. If you have the ability to delete a comment on one platform, the person that left that comment might go to another platform or several and repeat their message.
When responding to negative reviews, you need to be careful. Always be polite and explain or apologize. Try not to use keywords or the company name especially on third party sites as this can make the content of the page more relevant in the eyes of the search engine, which can actually make it rank better.
Tools That Help In Online Reputation Management
There are many tools available to help monitor your brand. Here are a few commonly used:
- Google Alerts shows newly indexed pages and can be set for your name
- ChangeDetection.com can help to monitor individual sites
- Social Mention can help with social media issues
- Boardreader can help with forums
Strategies and Tactics for Online Reputation Management
The end goal of reputation management is to control the search results and put your best foot forward. So how do you do that? Claim your profiles and be active on popular social networks. Create lots and lots of content that makes you look good and you want people to see. Use that content for linkbuilding on Wikipedia, article sites, web 2.0 sites like WordPress or Blogger, guest blogging, or even on domains created to target your brand or negative searches. Other types of content that rank well and should be part of your strategy include press releases and videos. Don’t forget to be active in niche specific forums and communities as well. You can also build links on event websites or provide information for services such as HARO.
The next step is building links to what you have created, interlinking them, and leveraging existing content, properties, and resources to make sure that all the good information is found before the bad information.