Online reputation management is defined as a set of multidisciplinary activities that a company performs to establish, maintain, and repair its reputation on the internet.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday business, there’s no time to think about the definition. You focus on essential tasks, fix problems, react to situations, and do whatever you can to present your company in the best possible way.
While taking action is better than just talking about an issue, it’s important to take a step back now and then to make sure your actions are aligned with a single, well-crafted strategy. Otherwise, you risk diluting your efforts and getting stuck with repetitive tasks that could be avoided if you stuck to a plan.
It’s important to be responsive and reactive, but the best results come when you take charge of actively managing your company’s online reputation.
Here’s a breakdown of the most essential elements of a successful online reputation management strategy.
Establish an online presence
This doesn’t apply only to new businesses. Your brand may already have a reputation within your industry. But if it’s been a while since you assessed your company’s visibility, a checkup is in order.
Conduct a reputation audit
Before you chart a path, you have to know where you are. A reputation audit lets you put yourself in the shoes of potential customers so you can see what their impressions would be if they researched you on the internet.
Many tools and agencies can help you gather the information you need for this audit. Be sure to focus on:
- Your Google search ranking and business directories
- Mentions on websites that aren’t your own
- Online reviews and overall user sentiments
With the results of this audit, you will have a more accurate idea of your position and what areas you should focus on next.
Google My Business, directories, and listings
The results of your reputation audit will show where your business is currently listed. The next step is to improve those listings and find new directories that can expand your presence.
Google My Business – In addition to claiming your business, you need to take the time to create a detailed profile, upload images, and keep a commitment to upload your profile regularly. This info appears in search results and Google Maps, so it is likely to be the first impression people will have of your business.
Industry websites – Depending on your business, there are likely to be many directories and review websites where you can get listed. Do some research and make sure you cover all the websites your prospects frequent. Double-check the information on your company and take the time to complete a detailed profile.
Invest in SEO
You already know that improving your search engine ranking has a positive impact on your business and the bottom line. SEO techniques can also improve your online reputation.
Local SEO: Maintaining your Google My Business presence is essential, but it’s only a start. Local citations and consistent NAP data – name, address, and phone number – are also very important. If your customers find conflicting information about your business, they could become confused. It will certainly reflect poorly on your reputation. Don’t avoid the tedious task of ensuring mentions are clear and correct. The job is easier if you apply useful tools to speed up the process, like this local listing checker from Moz.
Branded keyphrases: You probably already figured out how to rank first for your company name, but why not expand that practice to a few more key phrases that your customers might search for. These key phrases will vary depending on what kind of business you have. They can be something like “your brand + location,” “your brand + blog,” or “your brand + specific product.”
If you aren’t sure how to find these key phrases here are some suggestions:
- Google autocomplete: Just type the name of your company in the search bar and see what other suggestions pop up. Select the ones that make the most sense and optimize your website for that phrase.
- Google related searches: Another tactic is to search for your company name and scroll down to the bottom of the page so you can see the related searches.
- Google Analytics query report: If you connected Google Search Console to your Google Analytics account, you can extract keyword data from there. Just go to Acquisition > Search Console > Queries and type the name of your company. What will appear is a list of queries people have used to find your company on Google. You can use this list to optimize your website and dominate your branded search results.
Blog posts: In addition to SEO benefits, having a company blog will influence the perception of your brand and your company’s leadership. You can write about anything from company news to analyses that showcase your industry expertise.
Brand monitoring and messaging
A well-crafted brand message is at the heart of online reputation management. You can take charge of the narrative around your company by consistently promoting the values and key benefits of your product. Your website is the first place to showcase your unique value proposition, but don’t stop there. You can reinforce your message on social media, review websites, and any website that allows you to communicate directly with potential and current customers.
Managing and responding to online reviews
First and foremost, set up a process to ensure you don’t miss new reviews at any of the relevant websites. You can check review websites manually or set up notification emails at sites that support them. You can also use tools like ours, which notify you every time a new review comes in.
Once you have a notification system in place, you will be able to respond to reviews promptly. When responding to positive reviews, make sure to express gratitude for the praise and to address any criticism. You can create a few templates for responses to highlight different aspects of your business.
Positive reviews are great, and most companies don’t have any problem responding to them. Negative feedback is where it gets tricky. A customer who has a bad experience is more likely to be vocal about it – and these instances should be handled with care.
No business can satisfy every customer, so don’t take negative feedback personally. However, you must take it seriously. If multiple customers face the same issue, it’s not enough to apologize for their bad experience and shrug it off as a one-time thing. You need to examine your business practices and see if there’s a meaningful way you can implement changes and prevent problems that result in negativity online.
Sometimes negative reviews result from misunderstandings. In those cases, always take extra time and accept responsibility for how the misunderstanding occurred.
Monitoring social media and other brand mentions
Review websites aren’t the only places your customers express their opinions. Social media platforms and comparison websites are everywhere – and they are influential. That’s why you can’t focus only on reviews. Websites can write about your company or industry, mention your brand as an example, quote your articles – there’s no limit to the ways they can affect consumer perception of you and your products. People mention your company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms to praise your services or criticize something they don’t like.
These mentions are easy to miss. That’s why brand-monitoring tools like the aptly named Mention are so useful.
Monitoring websites and social media can help you reach out and establish better relationships with people who are already familiar with your company.
The review generation funnel
Tracking and responding to online mentions are essential tasks, but they are reactive. They’ll help you establish a positive reputation for your brand, but you can turbo-charge that process by encouraging customers to post reviews.
Invite customers to leave a review
Scenario 1: The customer has a great experience with your business and tells your employees that your product or service is awesome. The customer thinks, “Wow, I should give them a review.” The customer then goes home and forgets to do it.
Scenario 2: The customer experiences a service failure and instantly writes about it everywhere on the internet.
We can sit passively and complain that this isn’t fair, or we can do something about it.
To get more positive reviews, you must remove obstacles and encourage happy customers to share their experiences.
First, you need to remind them. Customers are as busy as we are, and it’s not reasonable to think that everyone will take the time to write up a positive review immediately. That’s why it’s helpful to send emails and SMS.
Your email should point them in the right direction. You can send them to a particular review site or refer them to a landing page where you provide links to all the websites where your business has a profile.
Once this system is in place, you can look at it as a funnel and measure your success rate. If you see that not many people open your emails, you can improve the subject line and get more creative. If customers are opening your emails but not posting reviews, you can make your copy more compelling and explain why this matters to your business. You can even offer small incentives like coupons or discount codes to make it worth their time.
Use online reviews to boost your brand
Once you start gathering positive reviews, you can reuse them in your marketing.
Start by posting the best reviews on social media. You can select reviews based on criteria like the number of stars and use them as posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Google. People are more likely to believe praise if it’s coming from your customers instead of your copywriters.
You can showcase the best reviews on your website, too. Website visitors will trust your business more when they see what satisfied customers have to say about it. Strategically placing up-to-date reviews on your page will build up your reputation and attract new customers.
PR and industry influencers
It’s no secret that having good relations with the press can help boost your online reputation. Even if you lack a public relationships team, you can employ effective tactics to influence the way your business appears in the press.
For example, you can use services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to respond to journalists looking for pitches and quotes from relevant people in your industry.
Or you can offer useful articles to websites in your industry. Well-written, informative articles highlight your expertise. And they are more likely to be picked up by online outlets than press releases about business milestones.
If writing long-form articles isn’t your strong suit, conduct a survey and publish the results on your website. You can create infographics and other useful representations of survey data to share with online outlets. When your business is credited as the source of the data in a respected publication, your reputation rises.
And don’t forget influencers. This is a sensitive topic because it seems that everyone with an Instagram account expects free products because of their followings. It’s easy to get burned – but don’t give up. Conduct an online search and find people who align with your brand values. Team up with someone reputable. Followers and likes are important, but it’s just as important to evaluate the content potential influencers share and how meaningfully they interact with their audience. The best influencers don’t have to be world-famous. Sometimes the best partner is someone who serves your audience well.
When you’re ready for your online reputation to make its maximum contribution to your success, sign up for a no-obligation free trial of Reviewshake. We’ll help you generate, manage, and showcase online reviews, simplifying your reputation-management process so you’ll have more time to focus on your business.