In business reputation is everything.
The smartest of business people know that their reputation is something to be guarded at all costs.
Word of mouth reputation is the most effective form that exists. What people say about you to one another determines whether they will use what you have for sale or not.
The Internet is not strictly word of mouth, but it is a place where people are talking to one another all the time. Reviews and comments have a very strong impact on how your business is viewed online.
The best types of comments that other customers should be able to see are the most positive ones where the customer has been very satisfied with your service.
If you have had some disgruntled customers, they have the power to cause a lot of harm to your business through leaving negative comments and reviews which are visible online.
Fortunately there are strategies and measures that you can take to mitigate the effects of these negative comments and highlight the positive ones in order to put your business in a positive light in the search engines.
These techniques are known as search engine reputation management you are about to learn all about it.
When it comes to online reputation there are several statistics to consider:
- a massive 92% of online consumers have stated that they regularly read reviews about a business before making a decision to use that online business
- according to the world economic forum, 25% of a company’s market value is based entirely on its reputation.
- as for negative reviews, 45% of online consumers have confirmed that they have declined a business transaction as a result of reading something that they found in online research.
Now here is a strategy to protect your reputation in 5 steps.
Ensure that your search engine results pages are showing links that benefit you.
Here is where all your SEO knowledge comes into play. You need to dominate the search engine results that are related to your brand. In this way if there are any negative or reviews about your brand they will be hidden by the results pages that you have optimized for those search results.
You can read all over the rest of this website about the ways of achieving this goal. It’s no mean feat, but with some hard work and dedication, it can be realised.
Some other ways you can take control of your own SERPs (search engine results pages) are:
– Put content on high PR (page rank) and web 2.0 sites about your business. Make it good quality and engaging so it will appear on the results pages.
– Use social media. Have fan pages, profiles and groups all about your business. Keep them active and content rich. These will also appear in high search positions about your business.
– Do newsworthy things so that others are writing and talking about what your business is doing. These other sites will have their positive articles appear in search terms for related keywords.
When you screw up, own up to it
If you as a business have done something that has ticked off a lot of people, the best thing to do in this situation is put your hand up and admit it.
Recently in politics we’ve seen the results of doubling down on your position when it’s obviously wrong (mentioning no names). Those being, massive decrease in popularity, erosion of public confidence in your brand and the eventual abandonment of what you have to offer altogether.
Don’t go that route.
Your reputation will be strengthened by taking ownership of your mistakes. People will appreciate that you try to do the right thing, because everybody knows that businesses, and people, make mistakes.
Take a leaf from Amazon’s book. We could say that Amazon is a successful business. One of the things that they strictly adhere to is customer satisfaction. If a customer is not happy with the service they have received, either the item they ordered was defective, or something else, they will offer recompense with very little fuss.
This attitude bolsters their reputation and builds trust and repeat custom from all over the world.
Make liberal use of social media
Briefly mentioned in the first point of this list, social media is part of your arsenal of online reputation management.
Aside from social media pages appearing in search results, these platforms are actually quite effective for interacting with your client base.
Through social media, your business can have conversations and build relationships directly with the people who keep you in business. Also known as your customers.
It may take time and logistics to manage your social media engagement, but the payoff in public perception makes it worthwhile. These are public forums where you can be transparent and responsive.
In this day and age, social media management is almost synonymous with public reputation management. Consider that.
Keep you ear to the ground – and respond
If your business is being talked about, you want to know about it. You want to know what is being said about you, who is saying it and whether it is positive, negative or neutral.
Respond as much as possible to commentary, particularly anything negative. You can be reasonable here, and don’t engage with straight up crazies. But any complaints or gripes that you notice online should be met head on with a level headed response. You come off as reasonable and fair, and you may just allay any ill feeling or nip it at the bud.
Stay vigilant in monitoring your online reputation
This should be quite an obvious point by now, but how does one go about “monitoring” their reputation online?
Thankfully there are tools to help with this.
Social Mention is one such tool which will show you sentiment-based social media buzz about your company. You can also monitor multiple other websites from the same place. Useful to check up on your competition. Another useful feature here is that you can retrieve the keywords that people are using when talking about your business or company.
Another useful tool is Topsy, which is a Twitter search tool with far greater power than Twitter’s own search. This is used primarily to find what influencers and heavy hitters are saying on Twitter, about various fields (yours included).
You should know what the influencers in your industry are talking about. Because, well, they influence. You particularly want to know if they are talking about you.