Online Reputation Management is a continuous process of designing strategies that improve or build a social perception of a brand, company, individual or anyone who has an online presence. With the time, ORM industry has been growing rapidly because more and more people are realizing the importance of good reputation in a business. Today, spending money on maintaining an online reputation has become a kind of investment, which has high return on investment. Many business owners are actively making an effort to reflect an ideal image of their business. In order to achieve that, they follow several best practices from the Internet. Some of these practices are out of date, harmful, and ineffective. Therefore, to give you a better idea of what to do and what not to do, we are listing do’s and don’ts of online reputation management.
1. Do create high-quality genuine content
Not many know that quality content is one of the most important pillars of online reputation management. Similar to search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC), email marketing and social media marketing (SMM), online reputation management (ORM) needs quality content. Creating good content is fundamental because Google ranks only those pages, which have better content. If you are able to rank your web pages on the Google’s first page, you can easily control how other see your brand. When you control what others see, you can shape reputation to match your business goals. If you are already posting valuable content to your web pages, extend it to the high authority website.
2. Don’t outsource to an inexperienced agency
Every business owner sets some budget to execute anything. Some want to build strong reputation by spending less. It doesn’t work that way. ORM is an investment. Therefore, make sure you are investing in a right online reputation management company. Not all agencies that charge you high are good and not all agencies that charge you less are bad. Hence, it makes sense to make proper background research and ask some important questions before hiring an online reputation management agency. Make sure your ORM agency suits your business type, business size, and business culture.
3. Do claim your Yelp and Google My Business
Claiming Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and Google My Business profiles should be one of your initial steps. Once you claim your business profiles on these platforms make sure the email registered for the alerts is regularly checked. Experts usually suggest to use the email address of Marketing Director or any other team member, rather than using a common “info@domain name” email id. This actually helps you to respond quickly to the new reviews without any office panic. Furthermore, it is really vital to optimize the business profiles created at these platforms. Here are some tips to optimize your profile:
- Add high-quality professional images
- Fill the company description with proper content
- Add accurate contact information
- Link back to your website
- Don’t leave any field empty
- Use videos to engage
4. Don’t wait until you receive bad reviews
Many business owners, especially the new ones, think about online reputation management only after getting negative reviews. And that is the reason why they have a fluctuating reputation. ORM is a continuous process. It’s not a good idea to stop managing reputation once you reach a safe state. Always remember that market, customer, customer behavior, and competitors are changing. You never know when you will be flooded with negative reviews. Instead of thinking to delete negative Google reviews; it is good to avoid them. That’s where a good online reputation management strategy will help you.
5. Do respond sensibly
Although responding to the customer reviews is time consuming, you must not overlook it. Make sure you are responding to the reviews in time. While responding to a customer, make sure you are doing it professionally. Many business owners lose their cool, when they see a negative review. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see a business owner using harsh words. Never respond when you are emotionally unbalanced. An unprofessional response to a negative review is capable of doing more harm than the negative reviews itself. Hence, it is better to give a standard reply and try to resolve the issue quickly, even when the mistake is not users.
6. Don’t get upset over negative reviews
Whether you hire a best online reputation management agency or handle things own your own, you will receive bad reviews. Then what is the point in spending money on ORM services you might ask. Here the point is to keep the negative reviews to the minimum. It is impossible to get rid of Google negative reviews completely. Even when you provide the best service, take care of customer interests and take every possible measure to make customers happy, there will be a hard to please customer, angry former employee or a jealous competitor, who will eventually post a negative review. So, it is better to concentrate on making things brighter, rather than making them worse.
7. Do report fake reviews
In the earlier point, we saw that hard to satisfy customers, ex-employee and business competitors tend to post negative reviews. If you feel some of your reviews are fake or violate Google guidelines, you can report them. Although sometimes Google takes time to take down the fake Google reviews, it is worth a try. Google currently allows you to report a review in four categories. Those are, hateful or inappropriate content, conflicts of interest, advertising or spam, and off topic. If you get no response, try to reach out to the Google Moderators via telephone or twitter. In most of the cases, this does work.
8. Don’t try to become Hercules
Small and medium sized business owners usually tend to take things into their hand. It is not always easy to repair your online reputation. Sometimes you may need professional help. Overlooking the importance of a professional help may harm your business adversely. Lack of required knowledge, experience, composure, and professionalism can ruin your reputation. Spending some money to gain more money is far better than saving some money to lose a lot of money. Moreover, as a business owner, you have tons of things to concentrate on. So, why not leave ORM to the experts?
9. Do take advantage of news and media
When it comes to ORM, this is the least tried strategy by business owners, especially small and medium business owners. News and media outlets are a great source for reaching a large audience. Big news and media outlets are always in search of new stories, topics, opinions of experts and content for their online website. As an expert or a well established brand in your industry, you can have a large scope to gain press mentions and publicity for your brand. If you have a story to tell, reach out to popular news websites, editors, and reporters who might be interested in your story.
10. Don’t pay for reviews
There are many business owners who follow the bad practice of buying the reviews. This usually happens when a business owner gets a couple of negative reviews. In order to dilute the negative reviews, he or she becomes desperate for positive reviews. As the result, they go for buying of reviews, as there is no other faster way. However, Google’s algorithms are becoming smarter day by day. It suspects when many reviews are posted with one device, or when an inactive user floods the reviews. In the worst case, Google can filter your reviews. So, it is better to obtain reviews naturally, and stay safe.
11. Do check what they are saying about you
Monitoring the online conversations is one of the most followed best practices in the online reputation management industry. Only if you know what others are saying about you or your brand, you will know how bad or good your reputation is. After knowing the current status of your reputation you can craft excellent strategies to repair or improve your reputation. There are several paid and free tools available to make this aspect of ORM easy. Some of the popular tools that make monitoring effortless are Google Alerts, Hootsuite, IFTTT, and Complaint Search Site.
12. Don’t spend a huge amount of money on publications
Well, who doesn’t what to get their publications and stories on a popular news and media website? Almost everyone of us does. Many online reputation management agencies specialize in getting your story on the news. However, these agencies charge a huge amount of money to get it done. Not surprisingly, many clients end up paying thousands of pounds. Not many know that the content can be placed on top media outlets for free. The only thing you need to do is, contact the news outlet directly and get your work done without paying anything.
13. Do ask for reviews
Did you know? Google actually encourages you to ask reviews? Google asks to follow these three best practices to gain more reviews.
Remind your customers: Google asks you to remind your customers to leave a review. You can do this by sending a follow-up email with the link to review page. This is not same for all the review platforms. Some review sites like Yelp, don’t want you to remind your customers to leave a review.
Reply to reviews: Google expects you to reply for the reviews as it builds customers’ trust. In addition to that, you can create a link and share it with the customers to gain more reviews.
Verify your business: Google allows only verified business to respond to reviews. So verifying your business should be your top priority.
14. Don’t spam on the Internet
Flooding the Internet with the spammy links is one of the biggest mistakes in both online reputation management and search engine optimization. It can harm your search engine ranking. Many SEO experts and online reputation management agencies will tell an average person that links are important to rank a page. Well, that’s half knowledge. While making links you must focus on quality and not quantity. Placing spammy backlinks all over the Internet can attract Google’s penalty. As a result, your search engine ranking may fall drastically, or you may get banned from the Google.
15. Do take advantage of social platforms
Social media comes with a complete package. It improves online reputation management in several ways. Using social media, one can promote positive reviews, build customer relationships, ask reviews, and establish himself or herself as an expert. Along with these basic aspects of ORM, social media can be used to drive traffic to the website, elevate search engine ranking, engage audience, launch new products or services, improve brand loyalty and increase customer base. This is the reason why social media is an integral part of online reputation management, social media marketing and search engine optimization.
16. Don’t market to the wrong people
Before you begin with any kind of reputation management or search engine marketing strategy, you must know your audience. Well, that should be one of your first steps. After knowing who is your audience, you should make an attempt to understand your audience. This includes knowing their likes, dislikes, behavior, browsing habits, expectations and necessities. Knowing and understanding your audience is beneficial in two ways:
It will reduce the risk of negative reviews to the minimum. That is, when you understand your potential customers, you will not give them a chance to be unsatisfied.
You will automatically know the changes or improvements that need to be brought in your business. That is, when you know what your customers like, you can just evolve your business to suit your audience.
17. Do take the issue offline
Angry customers are common to all business. As we said earlier, be calm and respond professionally. Such incidents can put a dent on your reputation. Therefore, they are needed to be handled with a cool head. Let them know that you are willing to do anything to fix the issue as soon as possible. Give them the name, designation, and contact information of a required person in the company, who can solve the problem, and take the issue offline. However, handling the issue online may create a mess and harm your hard-earned reputation. This is the reason why no popular brand resolves the issue online.
18. Don’t overlook customer service
A good customer service can make online reputation management easy. Make sure your customer service is capable of soaking the anger, frustration, or unhappiness to convert an unsatisfied customer into satisfied. That is exactly how you turn a negative review into positive. In order to ensure your customer is getting the best, make sure your employees know below three things:
- Company values and culture
- Speaking on the behalf of company
- Value of customer and customer reviews