By: the razwerks staff | Date: 11–24–2019
Research conducted by BrightLocal shows that more than 86% of consumers read reviews for businesses before making a buying decision. This figure includes more than 95% of people aged between 18 and 34.
In fact, 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a family member or trusted friend. At least 68% of consumers form a strong opinion about a brand after reading ten or more online reviews.
More than 57% of consumers will only contact businesses with at least four stars on average. Lastly, at least 89% of consumers read companies’ responses to reviews.
Do you see how a simple online review can affect your brand? From these statistics, it is relatively easy to see why your brand’s online reputation is crucial.
In this article, we will take a look at what encompasses online reputation management, why it is important, how it impacts your business and the strategies you can use to ensure your online reputation is good. Read on to find out everything you need to know about online reputation management and how to make it work for your brand!
What Is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management (ORM) can be defined as a PR-type activity that involves tracking and influencing your brand’s image in the online environment. The primary purpose of this process is to prevent harmful content about your brand from being visible to other users in search engine result pages (SERPs).
Online reputation management is essential because it determines how other people, including potential clients, perceive your business when they search or stumble upon it online.
In short, online reputation management proactively influences the kind of information online users find about your brand. It is an ongoing task that can only yield results if done right.
In most cases, you will probably want to hire a trusted reputation management agency to help you with the process, unless you have time to learn how to do ORM yourself. ORM involves the following steps:
- Deploying tools and software that can easily solicit positive reviews from your customers and distribute them to different online review sites.
- Being proactive when it comes to asking your customers to leave positive reviews about your business (at least 68% of consumers are willing to leave a review of your business if asked to do so).
- Responding to both positive and negative reviews appropriately and promptly. Take this as an opportunity to show people how excellent your customer service is and try to win that customer who left a negative review.
- Flagging inappropriate or spam comments. This step is necessary if you want to keep your reviews and ratings clean.
- Promoting positive reviews through multiple owned or paid channels such as creating banners, posting on your social media handles, paid ads, and posting on your company website.
What Determines a Company’s Online Reputation?
In the introductory part of this post, we have mostly talked about reviews. But, does it mean that this is the only factor in your company’s online reputation? No. Lots of other things contribute to the professional side of a company’s online reputation. They include:
How is your business or brand as a whole represented in the media? Are there any news articles that represent your products or services in a negative light?
No matter when the news article was written, it can still pop up when your company’s name is searched online.
Even if what the media said about you was inaccurate or is no longer relevant, that information will always be attached to your brand unless you work with online reputation management companies to clear up the mess.
Social media posts
Social media plays a critical role in your brand’s online reputation. It doesn’t matter whether you have official social media handles for your company or not.
Anyone can create a positive or negative social media post about your business. These posts spread like wildfire and can significantly affect you if people see the negative information about your business.
Typically, if someone sees something negative about you, they will not want to do any business with you.
If you can go to the internet and in a matter of minutes, look up criminal cases related to you or any of your employees, so can any person.
If your business has been sued for something big, the news can attract local, national, and even international press. Suddenly, your business brand will be connected with crime if you don’t take appropriate actions to clear up the issue.
Employee comments and opinions
In some cases, an unhappy or ex-employee can take try to derail your business by publishing negative information about your brand.
Whether it is true or false, you need to find a way of dealing with the situation as fast as possible. If you ignore such cases, disgruntled workers can easily tarnish your company’s online reputation even if they are making false claims.
Why Is Online Reputation Management Crucial?
Forbes states that more than 97% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses. If your potential clients want to know how your business is doing online, you should too. A significant number of consumers read an average of six reviews before deciding if they will contact you or not.
Sometimes, customers may talk bad about your business, and without an effective online reputation management strategy, you may not know when that happens. This will definitely hurt your sales. Even the smallest mistakes, such as failing to respond to your customer on time, can be catastrophic.
While some of the criticism may be genuine, many times, the negative reviews might be due to black hat SEO strategies used by your competitors to bring you down. Therefore, you’ll want to find all the negative reviews about your business as fast as possible and respond to them.
When done right, online reputation helps to create healthy balance and counteract misleading information about your business.
Being proactive when it comes to online reputation management can always make a significant difference. Since we are living in a world where everyone appears to be digitally connected, how your brand looks online can have a direct impact on your sales and the overall success of your business.
How Does Online Reputation Management Impact Your Business?
If you fail to handle your online reputation effectively, it will affect your business severely. That is the ugly truth. Today, many companies are using trusted reputation management services to handle their online reputation.
Your business may suffer significant losses if harmful content about it goes viral. Sometimes, this may be a one-off incident, but all that won’t matter if you do not take prompt action to counter the reports.
In a matter of hours, a lot of people out there will assume that your products or services are bad. Before you realize it, people will start to associate your brand name with poor service delivery.
Research shows that negative reviews stop up to 40% of potential clients from contacting a business. Technically, you will lose 40% of your prospective customers if you do nothing about your online reputation.
People are becoming more skeptical and tend to look for a lot of information before they confirm a buying decision. Therefore, if your business has excellent ratings, you will stand a better chance of converting leads.
Whether you offer services or sell products, it is crucial to hire a reliable online reputation management services company to manage your online reputation properly.
Don’t let disgruntled employees, competitors, or that one angry customer bring down a business empire that you have worked so hard to build.
How Can You Improve Your Online Reputation? Simple Strategies that Work
By now, you should have a better understanding of online reputation and the concept of building trust and credibility to attract more clients.
Looking at the power of both positive and negative reviews, you’ll see that online reputation matters.
You need to do everything you can to control the kind of information that comes up when people search your business name online.
So, how can you effectively manage your brand reputation online? Let us discuss some of the simple strategies that work.
Establish your current brand reputation
Before you even set out to do anything, you need to figure out how your brand is performing.
Make sure you conduct a comprehensive audit of your online reputation. This will help you determine what people are saying about your business and how your existing customers perceive your brand.
The audit can be as simple as asking your existing customers, friends, or business partners how they feel about your business. Tell them to be honest with you because the feedback will help you so much.
After that, conduct a simple Google search of your brand name to see the kind of information that comes up. Note down what news outlets and some of the influential bloggers are saying about brand.
There are some tools can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses in your brand’s online reputation. Feel free to use some of them to obtain as much information as possible.
While at it, also pay close attention to how your competitors and other companies perform. Once you have established your current reputation, it is time to come up with a clear plan that will help you build and manage a strong online presence.
Complete a social media audit
Social media plays a critical role in online reputation management. Once you have completed your overall online reputation audit, it is time to focus on specific areas.
Start by updating everything that needs improvement on your company’s social media handles. Get rid of anything that is underperforming. Take time to analyze your social media strategy and exploit each channel to the maximum.
At this stage, it is essential to keep in mind that brand consistency boosts trust. For instance, if your Facebook bio reads that you are the “Number one shoe retailer in town,” while your Twitter bio states “one of the biggest shoe retailers in town,’’ then you are weakening your brand identity.
Such inconsistencies will make consumers doubt your credibility. If you find anything in your audit that is not good for your brand, be sure to clean it up. If you have shared posts on social media accounts that aren’t good, delete them.
However, don’t be bothered by the negative reviews so much. Instead, focus on other things that can boost your brand reputation. Trying to delete a negative review can easily escalate into a bigger issue.
If you have not created social media accounts for your business, do so. Make sure you register for a business account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. At the very least, update your profile picture, cover image, and fill the bio. That way, you will protect your brand from imposters.
Focus on search engine optimization
This is also the right time to invest in SEO if you haven’t. Combining SEO and online reputation services will ensure that you take control of the kind of information that appears in SERPs when someone looks up your brand name.
Optimizing each SEO factor will help search engines to crawl and index your business website better to rank you. Don’t focus on keyword stuffing since it won’t help you in the long run.
Search engines are being continuously updated to focus on user intent other than keywords. Today, Google strives to provide the most relevant information based on user intent. To achieve better results, make sure you focus on both on-page and off-page optimization.
Get positive reviews
According to research conducted by Harvard Business School, a single star increase in Yelp ratings can result in nine percent increase in revenues. When you offer great products and services and your clients are delighted with your service, request them to share their satisfaction with the rest of the world.
While some customers may leave a review without you asking them, find a way of encouraging them to do so all the time. Make sure you ask for reviews from satisfied customers.
You can ask them to leave feedback via phone, email, or on your website. Simplify the process of writing a review of your business to encourage as many customers as possible to leave their reviews.
Consider having a “Review Us” page on your site and connect it to you Google My Business (GMB) or Yelp account. If you run a physical store, consider setting up a physical review station at a strategic point in your store.
Have someone with a laptop or tablet in your physical review station who can request customers to drop a quick review before they exit.
You can even offer incentives to those who are willing to rate your service. This could be a coupon, discount, or small gift that will make them feel appreciated.
Create content that engages and adds value
Search engines love good content that adds value to people’s lives. If you post good content regularly, it will help you in the long run.
Search engines will always take into account the blog posts, infographics, white papers, or articles on your site when crawling and indexing things related to your brand.
If the content is of superior quality, it will rank better compared to the few negative reviews that you may have received. High-quality content also builds credibility and authority.
In fact, online reputation companies say that content creation is an integral part of online reputation management. Good content increases interaction with customers and spreads a good name about your brand.
Today, consumers get attracted to experts who can provide them with authoritative content that adds value to their lives. With good content, it also becomes easy to request reviews from customers.
Don’t ignore the negative reviews
Always take time to read all reviews — whether positive or negative- and respond appropriately. Treat all your customers with the respect and dignity that they deserve.
It is essential to respond professionally even to the negative comments. Avoid using negative tone and try to ask the reviewers what you could have done better to make them happy. Apologize for any mistakes you may have committed and take responsibility.
Sometimes, you can offer a refund of money spend or promise a good discount on their next purchase. This way, you will build long-lasting relationships with your clients and the unhappy customers may soon come back and leave a positive review.
If you fail to respond to negative reviews, some people will assume that you are arrogant and simply don’t care.
How Long Does Online Reputation Management Take to Work?
Online reputation management doesn’t take a specific amount of time to work. In most cases, it will depend on the techniques that your reputation management agency is using to do the job.
Generally, press releases and news articles are crawled and indexed pretty quickly. However, other types of content may take some time. Content removal may take less time depending on the type of content that you want to remove from the internet.
On average, it may take you between six and ten months to see the actual results of your online reputation management strategy.
Some of the critical factors that determine how long ORM takes include; the existing online reputation of a brand, existing online assets and profiles, strength of competition, and content marketing efforts. Fortunately, with hard work and consistency, you can be sure of achieving better results.
Your online reputation is crucial to the survival of your business. A good reputation and high ratings can boost your rankings and attract more leads.
Today, the performance of your business greatly depends on your rating. So, find a way of getting positive ratings and managing the negative ones.
The good this is that online reputation management doesn’t require a lot of investment. You only need to spend a few hours a day managing your company’s online reputation. Focus on main sites and be proactive in dealing with some of the common issues.
If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to contact a reliable reputation management agency to help you with the process.
Remember the fact that managing your online reputation is an ongoing process that will only yield results if you manage it properly over a long time.
Did you find this article helpful? Feel free to share it with your friends so that they can also learn how to manage their online reputation.