Many businesses struggle to effectively manage their reputation online, often not realizing the huge effect that poor online reputations can have on their bottom line. Most users conduct research on companies prior to making a purchase, particularly when they are not fully aware of the reputation of the company. Online reviews from previous customers can have a profound effect on purchasing decisions from customers. Your presence in social media and Google can be paramount to your ability to grow and succeed, and management should be carefully planned. There are a few different aspects to online reputation management that need to be accurately monitored, and there are several reputation management tools available that can help you to do so.
Online Reviews and Initial Research
The most basic form of reputation management is managing the reviews that are out there about your business. This includes not only the review sites such as Yelp, but also blog posts and general thoughts about your service that are showing in the search results. A bad review at the top of the results for “Your Business Review” could result in thousands of dollars in lost revenue and hundreds of customers turned away from your service before even giving it a fair shot. You also have to take into consideration the fact that the Internet is a bit like the Wild West at the moment, with competitors sabotaging search results and troublesome customers having more of a platform than they often deserve. Sometimes, it is possible to have illegitimate negative reviews removed, but that is going to depend on each individual service. There are actually companies out there whose sole income is from extorting businesses and convincing them to pay for the removal of negative reviews.
For reviews that cannot be removed, there are other options available. One tactic is to push them down in the search engine rankings, and replace the first page with more favorable reviews. This can be done by optimizing current reviews for the search engines, or having more created in an effort to do so.
There are many web 2.0 sites out there that typically rank very well in the search engines, and allow you to secure your company name as your username, and then create a blog. With many sites, your username will also serve as your subdomain, which in turns helps to rank for terms that are related to your business name. There are services such as KnowEm.com, that allow you to register your company name where available en masse, in an effort to flood the search pages with websites that reflect on your business positively. If you are able to supplant the negative reviews in the top 10, with more positive reviews, the negative effects of less than ideal reviews will not be felt as heavily.
You should try to register your business name on as many web 2.0 sites as possible, not only because this will help you to secure search results related to your business name, but also to keep other individuals from registering under your business name on these sites and abusing it. This has become increasingly common in highly competitive niches, and even if you have no intention of expanding upon these free blogs, it is a solid preventative measure to consider.
Google Alerts and Social Mentions Tools
In order to monitor your online reputation more closely, you can utilize Google Alerts and other social mention tools, which will notify whenever indexed text appears anywhere on the web that mentions your company. This can be an excellent way for you to gauge public opinion, and keep your finger on the pulse of your online reputation.
About the Author
Anna Peterson works for McKremie a company that provides online reputation management services.