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Online reputation is that one intangible asset that can often be very hard to gauge accurately, let alone fix, if negative results turn up. And, when it comes to repairing online reputation through a robust online reputations management strategy, many business owners, publicists, CMOs and executives often don’t know where to start or who to reach out to. 

In this day and age of almost-always online – online reputation management really matters but it’s a complex subject to begin with. With this said, however, this article will act as a reference help you manage your online reputation and come up with a strategy to not just repair it but also ensure that it stays positive. 

 

A little background on online reputation management 

If it weren’t for the internet, we’d still be spending hours trying to track down a business or finding just the right product, according to our unique needs and preferences. Now that we’re right in the middle of the digital age, it’s important to understand how quickly news travels – especially if it happens to be any kind of ‘bad news’ or negative press about a company. 

Therefore, online reputation management is something every business needs to pay attention to, no matter how big or small it may be, or what sector they may be operating in. The core business landscape has changed dramatically since everything went digital, but what has also changed just as dramatically is the way customers perceive your business, how they relate to you, or how they talk about you out in the open, particularly social media and Google. A negative review or two is all it takes for a business’s hard earned reputation to get tainted. 

Even though the internet has made life easier for people and businesses alike, it has also proven be a twin-edged sword of sorts, due to how damaging online opinions can be. Plus, customers have become a lot more demanding and even a lot more sensitive to poor service experiences and will pull no punches to bad-mouth a company online. 

This is why it’s imperative that every business understand and acknowledge the importance of a well thought-out online reputation management strategy – because when bad reviews and opinions pop up, they spread like wildfire. There’s no stopping them and most businesses are caught almost completely off-guard, not knowing what to do or who to consult. 

While this article is not a comprehensive “be all, end all” guide on online reputation management, it explains the basics of what it is and how you can come up with a strategy of your own to protect your reputation online. 

 

How to come up with a solid online reputation management strategy

When it comes to devising an online reputation management strategy, the first thing you need to do is evaluate your online reputation. There are a number of ways to do this, but one of the easiest and most common ways is to do a quick Google search. 

So, we’ll start off with some basic searches, using your business’s brand name as the primary search term or keyword. Go through the first page of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) – what do you see? Are there shining reviews? Average ones? People complaining about a bad service experience? Any negative press around your brand in general?

Okay – so let’s assume you do come across a few links or news pieces that are unsettling. Is the damage extensive? Is it just the first few links on the first page of Google or do you see page #1 and 2 painted with negative news, comments and reviews, one link after the next? 

Is the negative news in the form of defamatory or potentially embarrassing and reputation-damaging comments from customers or published content like news posts and articles? How accurate is the negative news? Can you refute the claims? Is there anything positive at all to be found in the entire pool of negative news? 

Any number of thoughts could be racing through your mind at this point. However, it’s important to remain positive and keep a cool head as we need to come up with a clever online reputation management strategy right away. 

Start by answering the above questions and then move on to the “why”, which will to some extent, help us understand why negative content popped up in the first place. For example:

  • Is my brand out of touch with customer experiences in general?
  • Is there anything marketable about my company which can be immediately published to counter the reputational damage and even reverse it?
  • What can I use to bury negative content in search results?
  • How can I better collect feedback from customers to truly understand where the negative sentiments are coming from and why?
  • Am I in a position to directly confront and address the most appalling cases of defamation?

Ultimately, a properly planned and devised online reputation management strategy will address each of the above and much more – through, for instance, content marketing, SEO tactics, Voice of the Customer, etc. Plus, it will create a desire in you to make the necessary changes where they are truly needed. 

Now, let’s discuss some common strategies that businesses use to manage their online reputation and improve credibility.

 

Common online reputation management strategies to build credibility and regain trust

Stay alert! 

Never take search engine results lightly. What people are saying about you on Google says a lot about your company, whether you like it or not. Google Alerts is a great way to stay in the know; whenever any kind of detail about your business is shared or published on the internet, you’ll be notified. 

Be SEO-savvy 

Although this may not be tied directly to your online reputation management strategy, it still plays a critical supporting role: SEO-optimised web pages means that your website’s visibility will remain high – so if you ever need to quickly find out what people are saying about you, all you need to do is look yourself up on Google. From thereon, you can start addressing the negative content and publish more positive content to bury it. 

Plus, the on-page and off-page SEO optimisation will boost your rankings on Google, so people are more likely to trust you and do business with you.

Commit to your promises 

Many businesses are quick to promise a lot of things up front but often fail to live up to them. Make sure that you promise a value proposition which you can truly deliver on. Even if you fail to deliver on them 100% despite your best, most sincere efforts, be quick to balance it out with ‘extras’ – like a relaxed refund policy or special discounts. A business which is known for delivering 100% on their promise and offering customers ‘extras’ every now and then, will often not be viewed as critically or harshly, even if a few negative sentiments find their way on the search engine results pages. 

Publish positive content

Sometimes, negative comments simply can’t be avoided – maybe one of your competitors are doing something better than you are, and as a result, people are criticising you. That’s okay, it’s all a part of the game. 

We may not be able to wipe out the negative content entirely in some cases, but we can certainly bury it so far back in the results pages, that the chances of people finding it are slim or next to none. Therefore, we recommend publishing content which fosters a positive image around your brand name – such as blogs which build credibility, trust and authority around your offerings or industry expertise. Other examples include social media posts, articles, tutorials, how-tos, etc. The more positive content there is around your brand, the lower the chances are of any negative content getting discovered. 

Take responsibility of negative comments or threats to reputation 

Any negative reviews around your brand are not to be taken lightly, which we brought to light early on in the article. Doing so can send your brand’s reputation into a downward spiral of negativity. 

One of the first things you can do to deal with negative content is to approach the author or publisher directly. Be very direct, formal and polite in your communication – asking them to briefly reiterate the issue so that you can “make things right”. You’d be surprised how these situations can be turned around, with the same unhappy customers often ending up being your best brand ambassadors. 

If you feel your customer is owed an apology, then don’t hesitate to do so. In doing so, you have put together one of the building blocks of repairing your business reputation. As a bonus, you’ll get their trust and loyalty back, and they’ll even recommend you to others. 

Have an active presence on social media

Did you know that the least active businesses on social media also tend to have a generally poor public image when negative content is shared about them online? People believe that when a business is not active on social media, it does not care about its customers or what people are saying about them. Even if you have good intentions at heart and are doing everything possible to keep your audience happy – a poor social media presence is not going to help at all in terms of online reputation management. 

On the other hand, when you regularly share insights about your company on social media, answer customer queries, manage complaints or negative sentiments, and keep your audience updated with relevant and sharable content pieces, your business reputation will not only improve, but you will also be known as a brand that listens and takes the initiative to satisfy customers. 

 

Closing thoughts on online reputation management strategy 

While the above are just general tips and strategies to manage your reputation online, a reputation management specialist like Balanced Media can quickly identify negative content about you online, devise a strategy for you to promote positive content, make you more visible in Google’s search results and instill much better confidence as well as positive sentiments in general around your brand. 

Our team of online reputation management specialists have helped everyone from small-medium and well-established companies, as well as doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, media people and celebrities manage their reputation online. Arrange a callback to learn more. 

 

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