This article explains what reputation management is, as well as looking at the the link between SEO and reputation management. It discusses the best methods you can use to change your reputation for the better. Ultimately it concludes that it is better to move forward in a positive way than it is to dwell on trying to 'undo' the past.
Reputation management essentially means managing the way that your business is seen. In this day and age, a lot of this is handled online, as this is where many people will do their research when looking up a new business. Thus, it ties closely into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and various other forms of internet marketing.
However, it can also mean a number of other things – from answering press queries to putting out press releases. In this entry, we’ll explore some of the different aspects that make up ‘reputation management’ and look at some methods you can use yourself.
SEO and Reputation Management
SEO is a tool that businesses and webmasters can use to promote their sites, but this doesn't just mean getting more traffic direct from SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). SEO gives you the ability to dictate what comes up in search results and that means in turn that you can affect all kinds of things relating to your business and its associations.
If you have had some recent bad PR for instance, and searches for your business currently bring up negative results that don't reflect well on your organization, it's possible to use SEO to rectify this problem along with a range of other methods that utilize elements of SEO. Here we will look at some of the easiest ways to improve your online reputation and get more customers through SEO and other techniques designed to help manage the way you are portrayed on the web.
Changing the Results
If searching for your business brings up bad press, then the easiest thing to do is to change the nature of those results. One way to do this is by simply commenting on the pages you find. For instance then, if the search result brings up a comment on a post that's negative, or if it brings up a post on a forum, you can try responding to that comment and explaining your side of the story in order to better explain the situation and hopefully win back respect. While there may still be negative comments, at least by responding you can look like a business that cares and you can explain why it happened and how you're going to work hard to prevent such things happening again in future.
Answering bad reviews is a very important practice for many companies and this is one of the best things you can do to manage your reputation online. If you answer with constructive comments, then even if the product or service is still being called into question, it will at least be apparent that you listen to feedback and that the product is likely going to get better. Don’t be defensive, aim to be helpful.
If of course the result you find is a post on a blog or a web page, then you may not have any facility to respond directly on that page. Another option in this case then is to simply message the owner of that site and respond to their complaints. By offering some kind of compensation you may find that you can change their opinions resulting in some better press. Of course, if what they wrote was libelous you may even be able to take legal action. In this case, you may wish to seek out the assistance of a lawyer.
Bringing Up Other Pages
If this doesn't work, then of course you can simply work hard to make a different page come up at the top on the SERPs. If searching for a review of your business brings up a negative description for instance, then you can use off-page SEO strategies to bring up a different description of your service for that keyphrase, or even to bring up your official site instead.
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Removing Bad Links
Even worse than having bad results show when people search for your business, is having your business show when people search for negative terms. If this happens, then you may have some links to your site that use negative anchors or that come from bad sites. A solution to this problem is to try using the 'links disavow tool'. This is a tool provided by Google that you can use to instruct Google to ignore certain links pointing toward your website.
The links disavow tool however can be slow and there's no guarantee of it working at all. As such then you might be able to achieve a similar end more quickly by simply messaging the owner of the site. The owner of the site won't always have been responsible for posting the link if it was in a forum or on the blog posts, but if you request nicely they should have the means to remove it for you.
If you have links to your site from a lot of negative sources, then it’s possible that this is actually the result of a focused attack. In some cases, a site will even be hit with large amounts of links from ‘low quality’ sources on the web and this is what is called ‘negative SEO’. Their aim is to make it look as though you were trying to trick Google, so that Google will respond by penalizing your site! Again, the links disavow tool is your ally here.
Marketing and Promotion
The best way to promote your reputation online is simply to encourage people to write more nice things about your business. One of the easiest and most obvious ways to do this is of course to simply make sure you provide a good service/produce a good product, and to be friendly and helpful when contacted.
At the same time though you can also use a range of promotional and marketing strategies. For instance, you might organize competitions, or include more exciting features on your website. Any of these methods can simply work to get more people talking about your site and linking to it in a positive way. Rather than trying to erase the past then, the best way to improve your reputation online may simply be to move forward with a better strategy and ethos
From a business model perspective, always try to under promise and over deliver. So, don’t tell your customers you’ll get their product in 3 days if it will take them 3-4 days. Tell them you’ll deliver in 4 days and that way they’ll be nicely surprised if it only takes 3 days!
The Top Things That Will Make Your Business Look More Impressive
Of course another option is to try and craft an image for yourself and to think about how you wish to come across.
Your company’s image is one of your most important assets and one of the things that you need to guard most fiercely. If your business has a great reputation and makes the right impression on potential clients, customers and partners, then you will find that your marketing is more effective, that they’re more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt, and that in general you are likely to enjoy more business and more profit.
The question is then, how do you ensure that your business makes the best first impression, that it looks professional and impressive and that you make the optimal impact? We’re not talking about reputation management here – we’re talking about making a statement as soon as anyone lays eyes on you – we’re talking about style.
Read on to see some of the things you can do…
Far too many companies these days are still trying to save money when it comes to the devices that their staff use. Not only are smartphones and PCs absolutely crucial to performance these days, but they are also an important status symbol – if your staff are still using decrepit technology that looks like it’s falling apart, then people will presume that your business too is decrepit and they’re unlikely to want to put their trust in that technology to get the job done.
When supplying your staff with their devices, make sure that you don’t just think about the power of those devices, but also the way they look and the impression they will make on business partners. A slick looking smartphone and tablet will pay for themselves.
The same goes for the tech you supply them with in general. Don’t cheap out here!
Everyone knows how important first impressions are, and just how quickly most people make up their mind on an organization or person. As such then, making sure that your staff can make the best possible entrance is a great way to spend your money – and a corporate limo will help you to make one of the best entrances possible. At the same time, having your staff driven around in a limousine will mean that they can continue with work or even conduct meetings while they’re travelling – helping them to make better use of that time.
If you run a small business and you want to look much larger, consider renting a vehicle to take to meetings!
There is more and more pressure on CEOs and managers these days to let their staff dress more casually, but there’s a lot to be said for a stricter dress code. Not only do people tend to work better when they feel good about themselves and are dressed professionally, but you’ll also find it makes much more of a positive impression when visitors see your staff wearing slick suits rather than tshirts and jeans.
It’s not only in person that you can help your business to make a good impression. A lot of the time we will form impressions while researching organizations, and websites are one of the key ways we do this. If your website doesn’t look highly professional, then you’ll lose a lot of potential business as well as permanently damaging your website – so pay for a good design. When it comes to business, people do judge a book by its cover.
Something you can do that will help to boost your image a lot is to donate to a charity, or to associate with a charity. This is a great way to be seen as doing something good, and it will motivate people to want to buy from you, rather than from a competitor.
Likewise, go green wherever possible. That means using recyclable materials and it means dealing with other businesses that have eco-friendly policies. This can make a huge difference to your reputation both online and off.
Sponsoring the right company or organization can do a lot to associate you with that brand. It’s not just about getting seen, it’s about people making connections.
When sponsoring, working with or otherwise associating with any business, always ask what their reputation is like and what their ethos is.
Some Final Tools
There are many more tools involved in effective reputation management. For example, you might use a press release in order to release news and that way to control the message you are putting out. Likewise, if something is being discussed in the media, then you can put out an official statement to put forward your stance on the subject. Give interviews with outlets that you think will cover you in a fair way and make sure that your business has a mission statement – that it really stands for something other than just making money and sustaining itself.