According to a recent research by Nielsen, 72% of the buyers trust online reviews posted about a brand online.
Reputation management is the practice of monitoring the reputation of an individual or brand, addressing contents which are damaging it, taking proactive steps to ensure a good online reputation.
Therefore, ORM is all the more important when word of mouth travels globally, and your competition is always on its toes to attack the minute you make a mistake. Through this post we have tried to answer few questions which we see every business asking us time and again at various stages of their life cycle.
Having a proactive approach to reputation management on internet is necessary for any business whether it is online or offline, big or small. This way you can stay alert about any defamatory content being published about you or your business. Here are a few tips and tricks that every business must follow to keep a close watch on its online reputation.
Buy all the domain names that sound or spell similar to your brand name. This will prevent your competition from buying these domain names and launching them against you.
Buy as many domains as you can similar to “companynamereviews.com”, “companyname.net”, “companynametestimonials.com”. Make mini websites with unique content, add your positive reviews. Optimize them right. Yelp.com is currently being bashed through domains like Yelp-Sucks.com. To avoid such situations, plan ahead.
Register your business on Google+ Local, Yelp, CitySearch, SuperPages, YP.com, etc. These will help customers leave reviews about your business. Keep a close check on what is being said about you on these platforms.
Plan an online image and perception that you wish to maintain in front of your users. Educate your entire team about it, so that everyone is on the same page. Keep all communication consistent with that image and respond to all queries accordingly.
Set up google alerts or yahoo alerts for modifiers like “sucks”, “worst”, “bad”, “spam” with your keyword will give you a better idea what others think about your product or service.
Regularly make use of online PR and blog posts (your own and reputed guest blogs) to publish positive content about yourself. Often a well written article on an authoritative site can stay at the top of Google. These articles and pages often encourage people to add remarks, which helps cement the pages ranking in the search results. This content will always rank better than any negative content that might be published about you in the future.
There are a lot of online tools available to help you check and sustain your online reputation. You should efficiently use them to get the maximum benefit. Choose the social media platforms that will help you maintain an open conversation with your customers. Educate them about your business and keep a close check on their reviews so that you can work on them to make improvements.
Building inbound and outbound links is an integral part of online reputation management. They help boost your ranking on search engines and also provide related information to the visitors, building your brand image and getting traffic to your website. Keep a check on the back-links of your website. A competitor might try to hurt your ranking and reputation on search engines by using your links as anchor for irrelevant or adult data.
Make the collection of reviews very easy so that more people are prompted to leave reviews and you do not just end up with negative ones. Give an incentive to solicit reviews, maybe in the form of a discount on the next purchase. Send your customers surveys for feedback. Tell them you want to use their feedback on your website. Promote them as testimonials or reviews. This feedback will keep you in-line with what your customers expect and where you need to work on. The closer to listen to this feedback and easier it is to plan a successful strategy for your future
When you get a negative review, which is bound to happen, the first impulse is to look for a way to get rid of it. So if it is under their control, a lot of people just delete the comment. If that is not possible, they get defensive and revert with a rude response. Even the big brands who have the assistance of reputation management experts respond in a similar way.
A customer posted a negative review about star bucks on Facebook soon after their launch in India, and it stayed on their page and gathered around 5200 likes and 300 comments. Starbucks did not respond and finally deleted the comment in panic. This resulted in an even bigger reaction from the public and they were criticized now across multiple social media platforms.
If a negative review is not as small as a negative comment on a social networking website, it needs some serious damage control. Hiring an online reputation management company is necessary in such a situation. A perfect example for such a situation is the oil spill case of British Petroleum that resulted in a public outrage and the online media channels were full of negative articles about the company and the damage done to the environment.
As a result, all the search engine results for oil spill and British Petroleum were dominated by negative reviews. We all know that it is not possible to completely remove information from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. What British Petroleum did to handle this situation to defend their reputation was commendable:
If you are planning to run a PPC Campaign to subside results of negative online reviews, news or comments you need to be very sure of the keywords you target and the campaign you plan. You can consider hiring FATbit to take care of your PPC Campaigns because with our expertise and number of years of experience we know what it exactly takes to bring in the best results for you in a short period of time.
If a dissatisfied customer, a competitor, spammer or an old employee leaves you a negative review on a website like RipOffReports.com then it is the worst that can happen to a company belonging to the online service industry. It will become the first search result for keywords like “CompanyName spam” and ruin your online reviews. This is a very dominating search result, hard to suppress through other positive content. A remedy to taking down such a negative review is:
If the issue is not as serious as a removing a negative review on RipOffReports.com you have some options of handling the situation. These negative reviews might be appearing in search results on Google. Here is what you can do:
Be very short and crisp when answering a negative review. Try not to use your company name as it will act as keyword for the search engines. Instead use terms like “the company mentioned above”, etc.
Running a PPC campaign is not a permanent solution but an immediate step. What you need to do is strengthen your online PR endeavors and promote a lot of positive content about your brand. The positive content should strategically target the negative keywords used for you in the negative content. This way these results will eventually rank higher for those negative keywords. In future when someone tries to dig deep to find negative content on search engines about you online, they will instead find positive results at least on the first page of search engines.
It is better to take the services of a reputation management expert in this case. They will better know how to optimize the content for the appropriate keywords.
It is said that you can only have one result per domain for a search query; so the one which is more authoritative, related and well promoted will appear. Whatever content you promote should use your brand name repeatedly. This will feed the search engine spiders and they will rank them better for searches related to your brand name.
A proactive approach is to be ready with an action plan for disasters that are expected to happen in your industry. This way you are not taken by surprise and can act immediately. All your communication will be in sync with your brand image.
It is natural and unavoidable to go wrong at times. What is more important is to be prepared for it and have a well thought out strategy to bounce back. Right communication at the right time is the key. If think that managing all this on a regular basis can be too overwhelming for your organization, please consult industry experts.
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