The more your business grows, the more other people on the internet will mention your brand name. From third-party review sites to Wikipedia articles, there are so many places on the internet where potential customers can go to learn about your products, services, and your overall business reputation.
So many places to find information about your business–right at your customers’ fingertips.
No business can fully control what others choose to publish about them online, but you can use reputation management strategies to help shape a positive online image. We’ll be sharing everything you need to know to develop a strategic reputation management plan while answering important questions like:
- What is reputation management?
- Why is reputation management important?
- How do you manage your reputation management?
Plus, we’re giving you nine tips that will make you a reputation management pro in no time!
What is reputation management?
Reputation management is the process of monitoring sites across the internet in order to ensure that your business, products, or services are portrayed in the most accurate and positive light. For large businesses with a lot of brand recognition, this can be a huge task. That’s why many companies outsource their reputation management strategy to digital marketing or SEO agencies.
Still, any business large or small can execute a reputation management strategy. The effort to do so aligns with other initiatives that your business is likely already pursuing, such as digital marketing or search engine optimization.
Whether you need to build your reputation, maintain your reputation, or mitigate negative attention, a strong reputation management strategy is worth the investment. By proactively shaping your online reputation, you can help ensure that potential customers see your business name in a positive light, no matter where they come across it in the wide landscape of the internet.
Why is reputation management important?
A recent study estimates that 85% of customers conduct online research before making a purchase online. If those users find information that is negative, inaccurate, or misleading about your business, it could influence whether they choose your products or services over your competitors.
Those digital locations that mention your business can also end up ranking on the first page of search results for any queries that include your brand name. That’s why trying to influence them is critically important. Research from Moz estimates that businesses risk losing 22% of customers if just one negative article shows up in branded search queries.
Learn more about why a good online reputation is essential.
Where do I actually do reputation management?
Research shows that 91% of people use search engines to conduct online research. For that reason, all of your digital locations have an impact on how potential customers see you.
But the internet is a big place. It’s unlikely you can monitor every website that mentions your business name. With so many places on the internet where your online reputation can be harmed, how do you know where to direct your efforts?
To make it easy for you, we’ve grouped the most digital locations into three buckets:
- Third-party review sites
- News articles and high domain authority websites
- Social media
Reputation management on third-party review sites
When it comes to small and local businesses, third-party review sites like Yelp, Google My Business, and others have a major impact on your business’s reputation. According to a Pew Research Survey, over 82% of adults claim they sometimes or always read reviews before making new purchases.
Online reviews also impact your search engine rankings. Google considers online reviews in its ranking algorithm, and if your reviews are poor, it’s unlikely that your web pages will rank on the first page.
When a user searches for the “best” of something on Google, Google automatically filters results by star rating.
The good news is that a proactive reputation management strategy can help you improve your image across these third-party platforms.
How to do it right
Here are a few ways to perform reputation management on these websites.
1. Monitor the most important platforms
There are a lot of review sites out there, so focus your efforts on those that are the most popular in your industry. Review them once a week to see what others are saying about their experience with your brand.
2. Respond to negative reviews
People are more likely to leave a review when they have a bad experience, so don’t be discouraged if you occasionally get some. Instead of ignoring the negative comments, respond to each negative review with an apology and a specific suggestion for how to remedy their bad experience.
You may not be able to repair your reputation with that particular reviewer, but other users will see your response and know that your brand listens to customers and strives to do better.
If you suddenly get an influx of negative reviews, they could be coming from someone who wants to harm your reputation. If you have a reason to believe that certain reviews are fake, make sure to report them to platform administrators.
In reality, negative reviews are inevitable, but how you respond can go a long way in making sure the impact is as minimal as possible.
3. Ask for reviews
Because review sites skew negative, you will have to work harder to get positive reviews. When you’re confident that a customer had a positive experience, ask them to leave a review, and guide them to the platforms that will have the greatest impact.
By responding to negative reviews and building up your positive reviews on these third-party sites, customers will get an overall impression of your brand as one that is well-liked and responsive to customer feedback.
Reputation management using news articles and high domain authority websites
Getting positive coverage in a major online newspaper, magazine, or blog can be a turning point for any business wanting to grow its reputation with potential customers. If that coverage includes a link, it can also help improve your site authority, meaning better Google rankings.
But bad coverage can have an opposite and often devastating effect. Google’s recency signals mean that after time, a news article with negative information about your brand may eventually stop appearing on the first page. But if your business doesn’t have any recent positive coverage to outrank it, it can stay in search results for years.
For example, see what a user will find on the first page of Google if they search the keyword phrase, “what is it like to fly spirit?”
Although this article is several years old, it is still showing up on the first page. That’s because the website has a high domain authority score of 94, which helps it rank higher longer. This is just one of many examples of why monitoring your brand mentions across high domain authority sites is an essential part of any reputation management plan.
How to do it right
Of course, no business can completely control what other people choose to say or write about them, but there are strategies you can utilize to more quickly identify negative press, earn new positive press, and influence which articles show up at the top of the search results pages.
4. Set a Google Alert
Setting a Google Alert for your brand name will help you quickly find those other websites that mention your business. If the digital location portrays your brand in a positive light, great. If not, take one of these other steps to help minimize the damage to your business’s reputation.
5. Earn new positive press with public relations
Bringing someone in-house who can actively pursue positive press coverage is key to projecting a positive relationship online. If you can’t afford someone yet or if that’s not a sustainable position for your business, consider signing up for Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to easily access journalists and writers looking to cover products and services like yours.
6. Try guest blogging or thought leadership
Contributing thought leadership content to popular industry blogs or publications is a great reputation management strategy. Not only does it show off your expertise, this type of content often ranks really well in branded searches.
Reputation management on social media
Social media websites are digital locations where your online reputation is shaped in the eyes of current and potential customers. Social media sites have the highest domain authority of any website, so making sure your business profiles look professional and have accurate information is an important part of any reputation management strategy.
When or if your business ever gets a wave of negative attention on social media, it can come quickly and out of nowhere. The good news is, the ability of that social media chatter to impact your brand reputation is a bit overstated. Social media algorithms have very strong recency signals, so after a few days, the negative comments that mention your business will likely fade into the background.
If you respond to negative social media attention promptly and in a fair and transparent way, your reputation will likely return to the overall one people have of your brand.
For this reason, you don’t have to worry as much about social media sites tarnishing your long-term reputation. Instead, look to them as a tool to build a positive reputation. Using your social media presence to share useful information and valuable content with your potential customers will help build an authoritative reputation in the eyes of users.
How to do it right
Here are some strategies for using social media as a reputation management tool.
7. Optimize your social media profiles
User comments and Tweets that mention your brand name are unlikely to rank in search results, but your business profiles will. Make sure you have thorough descriptions of your products, services, and they include references to the keywords you want to rank for.
8. Develop a social media strategy
Having a strong social media presence is key to growing your reputation in your industry and driving traffic to your website with content marketing. Although users don’t have as high of search intent when using social media, they will start to associate your brand as having expertise and authority in your niche.
9. Engage with your audience
There is no better platform than social media to engage with an audience of current and potential customers. The pervasive use of social media means that you can connect with your audience quickly and effortlessly.
Become a reputation management pro
As you pursue local marketing and SEO campaigns, more people will get to know your brand and publish content and reviews about you. Having a reputation management strategy in place means your business can help shape those narratives, keeping your brand in good standing for the long haul, even during challenging moments.
About the author
Manick Bhan is the Founder and CTO of LinkGraph, an award-winning SEO and digital marketing agency. Through his agency work, thought leadership, and speaking engagements, he helps brands of all sizes grow their digital presence. You can follow him at @madmanick.