Online reputation management, abbreviated as ORM, is the process of managing and maintaining your reputation in the online world. ORM involves the creation of high-quality content (websites, articles, social media posts, reviews, etc.) related to a brand (person or business) that shapes their reputation in the digital space.
The purpose of ORM is to control the conversation revolving around your brand so that people find the right stuff when they search for you on the web. This can either be done proactively or in response to some negative content appearing on the internet. A good reputation implies you are an expert in your field-it augments your web traffic as well as your revenue while a bad one leads to loss of prospects and clients.
Because we live in an always-online world where people rush to Google the moment they need information on a person or business. What if a prospective buyer enquires about you on Google and comes across unsavory reviews? He will, of course, refrain buying from you.
A negative online mention can escalate into negative word-of-mouth in both online and offline space, crippling your brand image and eventually affecting your revenue. It is, therefore, vital that you position your brand in a positive light. On the flip side, if you have no online reputation at all, your prospects will flee to your competitors.
You can use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics to reinforce a positive online image. For instance, when you carry out Google search for a brand, review sites often appear in the first few results. You can use SEO to tweak these search results to create an overall positive impression.
Similarly, you can use ‘reverse SEO’ to push any negative mentions of your brand down the Google search page so that anyone searching for your brand comes across mostly positive results. You can also target specific keywords to run branded PPC ads or publish sponsored content on other websites.
Among the factors that decide how much you would need to shelve out of your pocket, the most critical is: how well you have managed your online reputation so far. Your current reputation provides a base for your ORM partner to work on. The cost of your ORM service also depends on the amount of information that already exists about your brand on the internet and the level of customization you seek to accomplish.
If you are hiring an ORM agency right after a major controversy that is expected to have significant repercussions, be prepared to shell out extra bucks- the price tag will be commensurate with the amount of damage done.
There are several steps you can take to proactively manage your online reputation. Build a website bearing your domain name, if you still don’t have one. Create a profile on all popular social platforms, link them together and post interesting, valuable content on these sites from time to time.
Monitor mentions of everything revolving around your brand-you company name including all the misspellings, your product/service, popular industry keywords, high-profile employees and last but not the least, your biggest competitors. If you are wondering how you could monitor it all at once-don’t fret, we’ve got you covered. By using a reliable social media monitoring tool, you can not only track keywords across platforms but also keep all your data in one place.
Also, set up Google alerts for all the relevant keywords to closely track your online mentions. And, most importantly, forge and nurture relationships in online as well as offline realm.
While there are many steps you can take to manage your online reputation, the task can be best accomplished by working in association with seasoned online reputation management experts.
Our team of knowledgeable, qualified and meticulous ORM professionals go all out to understand the nuances of your business-how do you currently score in terms of online reputation, positive and negative mentions of your brand, where do you stand vis-à-vis your competitors, etc. and, accordingly, craft a success strategy that redefines your online identity.
A salient component of your online reputation is your social media reputation. The very first thing you need to do is to establish a presence on all popular social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Quora and YouTube, if you haven’t done it yet. Link all your social media profiles; create a schedule to post engaging, interesting and valuable content on these sites on a regular basis.
Use social media monitoring tools (e.g. Hootsuite, Sprout Social) to keep a track of what others are saying about you and engage in conversations with your prospects and customers. Acknowledge and address negative reviews/complaints whenever the need arises. And yes, if your budget allows, run paid social campaigns focused on your target groups.
In words of Warren Buffett: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
Shielding your brand against negativity is, therefore, as important as fostering a positive image. The very first step would be to identify where your brand stands in terms of online reputation. Once this is figured out, you can proceed by working towards building a positive brand image. This would require posting relevant content (e.g. articles, social media posts, reviews, etc.) from time to time, interacting with clients/prospects and addressing their issues and implementing a well-calculated SEO strategy.
You must closely track the online mentions of your brand so that when something negative containing your brand name hits the internet, you get notified immediately and respond before monumental damage occurs.
It’s essential that you refrain from posting anything that represents you in bad light or has the potential to spark controversy.
In order to monitor your online reputation, you will need to keep a track of all the keywords related to your brand-your company name including all misspellings, your product/service, popular keywords related to your industry, high-profile clients and employees and your key competitors-social media monitoring tools such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite and Simply Measured come in handy here. With these tools, you can monitor pretty much everything related to your online image-from keywords and hashtags to URLs and much more.
Because Google is the face of the internet today, whatever comes up on the first page of Google matters. Set up Google alerts for all the relevant keywords to closely monitor your online mentions.
Your reputation isn’t created by fluke- a lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into making your brand stand out from the crowd. And because Google algorithms, customer preferences and market dynamics change from time to time, reputation building is an ongoing process.
Reflect on how you want your brand to be perceived as-your preferences will dictate the steps you need to take. Start with your website-regularly add content to your site, collaborate with reputed websites, use appropriate keywords to gain visibility in online searches. Monitor what others are saying about you on review sites (Google, Yelp, etc.).
Make efforts to build a formidable presence in the social realm: create content that is interactive, valuable and compelling and encourage users to share opinion about your brand. Be sure to respond to their questions, complaints and comments on time.
The key lies in building trust with your audience, so acknowledge when you have made a mistake. Also, keep a crisis management plan handy so as to make sure you don’t goof up during a PR crisis. And last but not the least, follow through and measure your progress.
According to a study by Reputation Institute, 40% of a company’s market performance can be attributed to non-financial factors associated with its reputation-and that’s why reputation matters. A good reputation brings numerous benefits:
Better Trust: People shape their opinion about a brand largely from how others perceive it. A company with mostly positive reviews on the web will very likely be trusted by customers and prospects. On the contrary, a company with a negative opinion will turn people away. Businesses with a good online image find it easier to build trust with customers and prospects.
Higher Returns: If your business has a positive online image, it will draw more customers-this will eventually translate into bolstered revenue and a higher return on investment (RoI). In fact, according to a study by Harvard Business School, every additional one-star rating on Yelp could bolster a company’s profit by up to 9%.
Minimize Damage in a Crisis: While negative publicity can wreak havoc for any business, it can be particularly damaging for businesses with a shoddy online image. A robust, positive online reputation mitigates the impact of a PR crisis allowing you to effectively counter negative propaganda by competitors or grumps conspiring to besmirch your reputation.
The internet has offered a platform where people can get away with whatever they say with little to no consequences for their actions. Because unfair attacks on a brand’s image are commonplace, having a well-thought-out plan for improving a bad reputation is critical. Here are some steps you can take:
Create Google alerts: Set up Google alerts for all keywords related to your brand, be it your company name, your product/service, industry keywords or mentions of your key rivals. This will help you get to the root of the problem.
Monitor Review Platforms: Review platforms such as Yelp, Google, and Glassdoor are places where disgruntled employees and customers are likely to leave unsavory comments, so watch the space carefully.
Bolster your authority: The higher is your authority in the online realm, the easier it is to influence Google search results and tilt the balance in your favor.
Acknowledge your mistake: When you are wrong, admit it; devise a plan of action to avoid such goof-ups in the future. If customers have complaints, handle them cautiously and patiently.
In addition to this, try to share positive feedback from satisfied customers, reward loyal customers and above all, adopt a proactive approach for crisis management going forward.
Unfortunately, removing negative reviews is never easy. This is because review sites often have stringent guidelines for removal of content. These sites delete a review only when they find it threatening or profane. However, if you can establish that the person writing the review is a competitor, a fake reviewer or somebody you are fighting a lawsuit against, the site may agree to remove the content.
Reviews that appear rational are notoriously difficult to remove regardless of how inaccurate they may be. So, we cannot completely eliminate all the negative reviews on the web. We can, however, use some proven tactics to mitigate their impact. These tactics, of course, depend on the site the reviews have been posted on.
At times, we contact the unhappy reviewer and ask him to remove the content in exchange for some favor. Some sites allow us to report a negative review as ‘abuse’-the site then exercises their discretion to decide if they should delete the review. In many cases, we don’t even attempt to remove the review- we just leave a suitable reply to appease the reviewer.
According to a study by Advanced Web Ranking, the top ten search results on Google get 84.8% of the total clicks. As such, you cannot afford to have negative articles or blog posts popping up on the very first page of Google search results.
While we may be holding long-standing expertise in the ORM space, we don’t control Google algorithm. So, the harsh truth is: it is difficult to remove negative articles or blog posts from Google search results.
A viable approach we adopt to counter negative results is to overwhelm them with the positive ones. We deploy a range of tactics to accomplish this, and the process does take a lot of time and effort. As the time taken varies from case to case basis, we cannot cite a time frame here.