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Online Reputation Management is an important consideration for companies large and small, it is a combination of marketing and public relations with search engine marketing. It doesn’t matter if you are a small mom and pop shop or a multinational corporation; all companies need to know what their consumers are saying about them on social media and what the search engines present to a prospective customer or client. If people on social media are recommending you and the search engine results are all positive reviews you are doing a good job.  But what should you do if the tweet, comment or search result is a scathing attack or an irate customer telling the world about an incident involving your company?

Footprints on sand - Qoute: "Reputation. We will be known forever by the tracks we leave"

Benjamin Franklin once wrote:

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad
one to lose it.”

When Ben Franklin was around the media turnaround for a negative story could take days giving companies some wriggle room in crafting a carefully worded response, but we are in the digital age. Social media has given consumers a platform to voice their concerns and they are not afraid to use it so here’s four steps to help you get start with online reputation management so you can find out (and hopefully influence) what people really think of your company, people and products/services:

1. Take a Test

Enter this search query into Google, delete the blue text and replace it with relevant keywords about your company.

Example: continuum web agency

  • You can search any site in Google by prefixing a website address with site:
  • Enter in relevant keywords that are industry specific, in our case we have a scientific theory and 2 popular tv shows in our results, you can filter these keywords out by using the minus sign in your results.

You will either see positive, negative feedback or nothing at all, if you see nothing at all, remember that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. If you are indeed seeing conversations about your company then try the following:

2. Monitoring Your Audience:

This seems like a daunting task at first but there are lots of services out there that help you keep tabs on your company name on any site, blog etc

Create, subscribe or signup to any or all of the following:

  • Google Alerts
  • Yahoo Alerts
  • Custom RSS Feeds

These sites are your red alert, they will email you updates every time your company is mentioned online and you will be able to take appropriate action.

3. Analyse the Data:

Take account of the positive and negative reviews in the context of their own search engine value, if a spam site mentions you as being a rubbish company VS a site with high authority you need to prioritise the higher authority site because it is a trusted source of information. Useful tools to help you check a sites authority is open site explorer. You can use a metric called page authority of the page. If a page is over 40 it can be considered a high quality page.

4. Make Friends and Influence People:

Take action, react responsibly and quickly to show that you are listening to your customers. You have many communication tools at your disposal to take action whether it’s a social media channel, part of your website or the use of third party websites that you may be able to exert influence over (a sister company, an employee’s blog or a well thought out response on the offending site). In the case of a negative content you should take account of its position in search engines and do one of the following.

  • Take account of third party sites that you can take control of or may have a vested interest in. An employee’s blog, a microsite, forums and partner sites are all examples where you can exert some influence.
  • If it’s a sincere and valid criticism of your company, you are best dealing with the issue in as open a way as possible. Should you find uncalled for negative online sentiment, a slow but nevertheless effective approach is to optimise your own site so it effectively ranks better and pushes the negative comments down the search results page. Optimising your on-site content could take the form of increased corporate news/communications, a blog post etc.
  • Review the offending sites submission guidelines and contact an administrator detailing why you believe the content should be removed.

In particularly difficult cases you may even consider legal action if the offending site is in breach of copyright law or if your company or a person in your company has been defamed.

When you have taken the appropriate action go back to step one and start over, run more tests with the Google queries to see if your alerts are missing anything. Online Reputation Management is difficult and in many cases time consuming but it is necessary and can have a huge impact on your bottom line. In this era of networked technology people are always connected, Online Reputation Management has never been more important.

Have you even been the victim or beneficiary of an online post, are you looking for help in managing your online presence and reputation? Drop a comment in the box below. 

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