Your company’s reputation is a complex mix of relationships and activities conducted by multiple departments and people in different job roles. From the quality of your product or service to PR, marketing, and everything in between, dozens of obvious and hidden touchpoints influence the way customers perceive your brand.
This article can’t cover every touchpoint and its importance, but we can focus here and now on the online aspect of your reputation. More specifically, we can show you how and why to conduct an online reputation audit that will help you understand your current situation and identify areas where improvement is possible.
The purpose of an online reputation audit is to discover how your brand is perceived online. The audit is an opportunity to put yourself in a potential buyer’s shoes and see your business from an unbiased perspective: What impression does your brand give off? What information is available online? Does this information paint an accurate picture?
Think of it as a snapshot of your current status - a good starting point that will help you map out the next steps and make informed decisions about a comprehensive online reputation strategy.
Whether you want to perform an audit for your business or you want to add audits to the service you offer clients, here are the fundamentals.
Analyze your website
Start with the assets you have control over: the contents of your website.
Of course your website needs to be polished and the content should be clear and relevant. You’ve probably already taken care of that. But many companies overlook additional important factors.
Your site’s loading speed is a technical component, but it plays a key role in the impression people have when they visit your website. Loading speed is also an important Google ranking factor, which means that if your site takes forever to load, Google will push it down in the search results. Fewer potential customers will discover your company.
To address this problem, go straight to the source. Start by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check your site’s performance. Follow Google’s guidelines to deal with any problem issues the tool discovers.
Online review metrics
The next step in the evaluation process is to visit all the review websites where your company has a profile. Take a good look and see where you stand.
Start your analysis by creating a list of the websites, average ratings, and the number of reviews. Are there discrepancies in your ratings? Did you see a dip during a discrete period? Pay special attention to negative reviews.
This time-consuming process goes a lot faster if you use a tool like Reviewshake to gather and crunch the numbers.
A thorough analysis of review feedback will help you make a plan to improve your ratings and get more reviews.
Perform a wide Google search
Check your local listings and directory websites to make sure you appear everywhere you should. Pay special attention to company info and correct outdated or incorrect information right away.
Dig deep into the results and make a note of blogs and news outlets that have mentioned your brand. You can automate this process and make sure you see all brand mentions by setting up Google alerts for your company and product names.
Social media sentiment analysis
These days, it’s essential to tap into social media chatter when you check your brand’s reputation. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will tell you who’s talking about your company. And they are good forums for spotting emerging trends.
It isn’t enough to check your brand mentions. You should also analyze the overall sentiment of the comments. The sheer volume of data might seem overwhelming but luckily the market offers a good selection of free and paid tools like this one to help with that.
Pro tip: Personal websites and social media profiles
If you or your employees have industry-relevant blogs or frequently contribute to professional networks, that can also be an important touchpoint where potential clients are introduced to your brand.
It’s not compulsory to promote your company on your personal website or social media accounts. But if you do, make sure to coordinate your brand values and messaging with the overall strategy.
What to do with the results
When the results are in, it’s time to take action. Check for low-hanging fruit and urgent issues like negative reviews. Tend to those first.When that’s out of the way, you can use the audit as the foundation for a comprehensive online reputation management strategy. To get started, check out this guide to defining a strategic approach to online reputation.