What are the factors that determine your reputation online?
Any content that includes information, opinions, reviews or ratings of your business influences your image. While reviews are an important part of this, there are many other factors that influence your online reputation management (ORM). These include:
- Your website and how it appears in search results
- What appears when people search your business name online
- News about your business
- What people are saying on social media, online comments and other forums
All of these play a role in how your business is perceived, and it takes a multifaceted approach to create and promote positive online information while minimizing negative content.
1. Ensure your website makes a positive impact on your reputation
The first step for business reputation management online is making sure that your website makes the right impression. This includes how it appears, how easy it is to use and how simple it is to find what visitors are looking for. A website that’s outdated or not professionally designed won’t build trust with people who find you online.
In addition to explaining what you offer and the benefits, your About Us page should tell people who you are and what you value (and not repeat the information on your home page). This can include short profiles of key staff, a company history, positive news stories, and awards and credentials.
Another way you can build trust with website visitors is by offering content on topics connected with your products or services and the problems you solve. This can include ideas, tips, answers to frequently asked questions, and short guides. Publish this content on your blog and update it regularly, as featuring articles that are several years old will create a negative impression. You will also get the added benefit of attracting potential customers using search engines to find answers.
2. Google your business
When potential customers are researching your business, many of them will Google your name as part of the process. You should also be aware of what comes up when people look for you online. Most people stop at the first or second page, so focus on these results. Look for outdated or false content on third-party sites that could be potentially removed. Also, make sure your business is registered with Google so you can set up a business profile that will appear at the upper right-hand side of the page along with other search results. Here’s a guide to setting up your business profile.
In addition, keep track of what people are saying about your business online by setting up Google alerts for your business name and other key terms. Here’s a guide on how to set up Google alerts.
3. Protect your assets to improve online reputation management
Part of managing your online reputation is claiming your intellectual property assets. This includes getting a trademark for your business name and any product brand names to avoid them being used by others. Also, besides registering your domain name, register other variants. For example, if you’ve registered the .com.au version, also register the .net.au version to avoid others registering and using it.
Find out more about protecting your intellectual property.
4. Ask customers for reviews
Satisfied customers are happy to leave positive reviews but you’ll get more of them when you ask. Displaying reviews on your website and social media will boost your reputation online. Although you can never avoid negative reviews, having many positive ones will outweigh these. Customers can leave reviews on your Google business profile. Other review sites such as Trust Pilot can be helpful for getting and presenting customer reviews to gain the benefits of online reputation management.
5. Respond to reviews and social media mentions
When you get a positive review, thank the customer for making the effort. Also, respond to negative feedback and reach out to resolve the issue, whether it is real or perceived. Not responding will make it look like you’re avoiding the problem. While some complaints are not justified or can’t be resolved, listening to the customer will help diffuse the situation and avoid further reputation damage. If your business has done something wrong or failed to deliver on what was promised, offer an apology and look for a way to rectify the situation.
6. Be proactive with social media
Part of your online reputation management strategy can include posting positive content on social media. This can be company news, the content you’ve created (such as on your blog) and links to other relevant information such as industry news. To avoid being overwhelmed with the number of platforms, choose a few to begin with based on the type of business and goals. For example, LinkedIn is more relevant for business-to-business and professional services, while Instagram is better suited for consumer products and services. Here’s a guide to choosing social media platforms for SMEs.
Once you have chosen social media platforms to focus on, you can use one of the many social media management tools to schedule, publish and monitor your social media posts. Some of the more popular programs include Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Buffer.
Implementing online reputation management strategies
Determining how online reputation management works can seem confusing. But taking one step at a time can help you improve your online presence and build a positive reputation.
Here’s a simple online reputation management checklist to help you get started:
- Review your website and make sure it’s up to date and easy to use.
- Provide content that creates value for your customers and prospects.
- Check the Google results for your business to see how others will perceive you when searching online.
- Set up Google Alerts to receive updates when your business is mentioned online.
- Protect your intellectual property by registering domain names and trademarks.
- Choose a review platform and ask customers for reviews.
- Respond to reviews, social media mentions and complaints.
- Use a social media management tool and be proactive with posting content.