Since the advent of the internet and internet marketing, the most fundamental principles of marketing have shifted. The speed and fluidity of communications has allowed customers greater accessibility to interact with brands. As opposed to the “spray and pray” techniques of conventional advertising, internet marketers can now reach their customers on an intimate and conversational level.
While there are plenty of advantages to this arrangement, there can be significant problems with this empowered customer base. First and foremost, companies can become the objects of legitimate or illegitimate attacks on their reputation.
It is crucial for companies to watch over their online reputation with due diligence. The following are seven ways to monitor and manage your brand’s online reputation. You will also find points on how to deal with a reputation crisis.
Tactic #1. Constantly manage your search engine results pages
The SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) are what is presented to a user when they enter your search terms, for example the name of your business. This page will typically contain 5 to 10 results and it’s imperative that only positive results are produced.
These results are not necessarily anything to do with your website, you may find that only two or three actually link back to your business website. How can you optimize the SERPs for your terms? Take some time to look for positive results and links to those sites. The stronger the “positive” results are on that first page, the harder it will be for negative reviews to make an appearance.
– Search engine optimization
Even while having plenty of positive results from other sites including your own, you can’t underestimate the need for proper SEO. Web sites that have been optimized according to these best practices have keyword-rich content and properly formatted coding. It’s not enough to simply rely on positive external links. SEO is the great divide that separates the “pros” from the rookies.
– Google Suggest
Google Suggest is a feature that produces some suggestions from the words and letters you begin typing in the search query bar. Popular searches are what Google uses to produce these results. Problems begin when your brand becomes connected to a “negative” term like “scam” or “rip off”.
People are always curious about the bad side of business and will click on the link to stay informed. The more this happen the greater popularity for the negative search. And then there is the bad news, aside from driving an even larger quantity of positive searches those negative search suggestions can stick around forever. Some experts will suggest positive PR campaigns, but unfortunately negative google suggestions are the hardest thing to counteract. You need to be aware of this important aspect of reputation management.
The best way to properly manage your SERP is to have an idea of what the ideal results are and focus your efforts on obtaining this mix of results on the first SERP. Keep a careful record of your SERP and at least once a month track the kind of results appearing next to your brand’s search terms. In the event of a crisis you will have some key benchmarks to point out where you went wrong.
Tactic #2. Solicit positive reviews from your customers
Service and product reviews is a huge chunk of the customers awesome online power. Positive reviews are solid gold, but the fact is people generally have a penchant for writing scathing reviews for bad products and services.
Every company, especially those doing well, will have some negative reviews posted about them. Many times they aren’t even all that legitimate, posted by an angry ex-employee, angry ex or someone who is just having a bad day.
So, if you can’t stop people from writing bad reviews, what can you do to combat these harsh comments on your business?
The best thing to do is create a counterbalance with a positive review strategy. Simply ask your customers to write reviews for your products or services. By making the reviewing process as easy as possible and getting your front line salespeople to instruct customers on how and where to write reviews, you can expect plenty more positive reviews to begin getting posted.
– Create a review portal
Even better than asking for customers to post their positive comments and opinions is giving them a place to post right on your website. This doesn’t have to be on your main web site but having a place for this kind of feedback increases the likelihood of many positive reviews. Many companies have post-purchase surveys that allow them to collect important feedback of their products and services, requesting an online review instead is a better way to get this information. These reviews provide important feedback that can improve your customer service and provide an excellent testimonial of your establishment.