This online reputation management guide has been designed to give you a general overview of reputation management in general. It has been designed to answer the following questions:
While this guide is intended to provide a basic overview, practitioners of internet reputation management should consult the more detailed process document here as well.
Consumers are using the internet more than ever before to inform their purchasing decisions, whether it be what restaurant to eat at or what car to buy.
The majority of people use Google to search online because it gathers a wealth of information from every corner of the web and, perhaps more importantly, filters all of that information to provide the most relevant, reputable, and useful links first. In fact, Google does this so well that people have come to trust the links on the first page of search results significantly more than those on subsequent pages.
A staggering 93% of all the links that people click on in Google search come from that first page. [i]
If even one of those links is negative when a consumer researches your company or product (such as a poor review on Yelp, an embarrassing blog post by a disgruntled former employee, or an unflattering article in the local paper) the damage to your company’s reputation can be devastating and do a lot more than just hurt the bottom line. It can:
Online Reputation Management (or ORM) has evolved as a result of the internet’s increased power among consumers. The more consumers research and interact with businesses online, the more important it is for businesses to ensure their online reputations are strong and positive.
If a customer will be researching your company or product tomorrow, you need to start managing your online reputation today.
There are some very powerful tools at every business’s disposal for both reversing and defending against negative links. If you’ve had your reputation damaged online, you can effectively repair it … and if you have a good reputation (or little reputation) online, you can fortify it. This reputation management guide will show you how.
The first step in managing your online reputation is to go out and claim what is rightfully yours – your company's brand, or your name.
There thousands of social networking, professional networking, blogging and content sharing sites out there, but a few of them tend to rank higher in Google search results and are more likely to be visited by your customers – these are the sites where you need to establish a presence.
Begin by creating profiles for your company on the sites listed below. (We’ve included some examples to show you what a good business profile looks like.) All of these sites will walk you through the process of creating a profile once you register your name.
You may have created personal profiles in some of these places, but keep in mind that business profiles should generally be different in a few ways:
Here are some excellent examples of how it's been done right:
The next step after creating your profiles is to monitor and manage them effectively. There are lots of tools out there for doing this, but we think a few of them outperform the others and we’ve listed them here.
Spend some time browsing the websites for each management tool below. Most of them have descriptive guides or tutorials available. Once you’ve explored each one, choose the two or three you prefer and try them out.
When you find the one you like best, connect all of your social profiles to it. (Each tool will guide you through the process once you register.)
All of these tools (except Google Alerts) do two very important things:
12 Social Media Monitoring Tools Reviewed
How To Monitor Your Brand Online (Without Losing Your Shirt)
With your profiles up and running, and your management tool setup, you’re ready to start implementing some best practices for managing your online reputation.
Over a year ago, Google started rolling out major changes to its search engine and dubbed it the Panda update, that was followed by others dubbed Penguin and other creative names. It was such a wide-sweeping overhaul that it changed the rankings of nearly 12% of all search results, far more than any other update that preceded it. [ii]
Your next step is to develop a set of best practices that leverage some of the Panda updates to your advantage.
Our goal is to push the best possible links for your company into the top of Google search results, so any best practices you adopt from this list will fast-track your company’s glowing status.
Google wants to be sure the links they give you on the first page are the real deal. For example, if a site claims to be an “official” company page or a legit news link, Google will try to verify it. Number of sites linking in, how often the content is shared by visitors, and how much it is “liked” in social media (or +1ed or followed) all matters.
Best Practice:Before posting any comment, picture, or video to your profiles, ask yourself “Will people want to ‘like’ or +1 this?” & "Does it help my reputation?".
Stale content usually takes a back seat to newer content. Google wants to return results that are timely and relevant.
Best Practice:Develop a posting / updating schedule and stick to it.
With the Panda and Penguin updates, Google has placed more value in social media indicators than ever before. Links that are important to the people you know (indicated when they +1 a page, link to it in Facebook, and other actions) are given a ranking ‘boost’ in your search results.
Best Practice:“Like” and +1 your own content to ensure it will show up in your friends’ search results.
Google also updated their search engine to pay close attention to images on websites and to prioritize those with meaningful pictures.
Best Practice:Avoid generic pictures or stock photos that are unlikely to get noticed by others. Choose pictures that people will comment on and link to. You want to create web properties that make people stick around - conveniently this is called 'stickiness'.
At this point, your company’s internet reputation is starting to rise. Your profiles are in order, you’re effectively managing and monitoring what’s going on around you, and you’re capitalizing on some of Google’s most recent updates.
Now it’s time to bring it all together with tried and true reputation management tactics.
The ideas below are tactics that you can use right now to get ahead in managing your online reputation. We don’t expect you to do them all overnight, but you should start working on them now.
Create a YouTube channel
Videos are one of the most shared forms of content online and a YouTube channel is an easy way to create a company branded experience for viewers. The key is to upload and aggregate videos that are of value to your audience, and which they are more likely to share and comments on. Some ideas include:
Kraft does an excellent job of creating and posting educational videos that explore food and recipe ideas. The channel is clearly branded and is regularly updated with new videos. It’s easy to see why people would want to revisit this site over and over again.
Cisco gets their viewers involved by hosting contests, discussions, and informational videos on their YouTube channel. People are more inclined to share these videos across their own social networks.
Start a company blog
Blogs are easy to set up and generally straightforward. A business blog is an opportunity to continuously communicate the values a company and differentiate it from competitors. Use interviews and guest posts as a way to include relevant people who have strong social followings (the interviewee will be likely to share the blog post with his/ her legion of followers).
This is an example of how you can create a robust blog without spending a lot of time writing posts. Starbuck has turned their blog into an open discussion forum for new, user generated ideas.
GM’s Fast Lane blog is a collection of thoughts, images, and chats about new innovations in and around the auto industry. It highlights GM’s commitment to technology and offers followers access to unique content.
Both of these blog posts inspired lively discussions among consumers and industry professionals:
Aggregate valuable content
Collect and add relevant resources to your site and social profiles. You’ll be adding value to other people’s good content by gathering it all in one place.
The company’s Facebook page is a collection of videos and images from many different sources, including fans and followers themselves. People continue to return to the RedBull page because they know they’ll get new, sports-related content from around the web.
Reviews can be a double-edged sword. A good review can cause a spike in business. A bad review can instantly ruin your reputation and cause financial strain.
If you find yourself the victim of a fake, inaccurate, or overly negative review, the first thing to do is give yourself some breathing room. It can oftentimes feel like a personal attack and its perfectly normal to have an emotional response.
But after the initial punch-in-the-gut feeling has subsided, its time to channel that emotion into action. The links below offer great advice on how to respond in this situation. Also, don't forget that if you follow this online reputation guide, you have a good chance of getting that review pushed off the first page of search results, making it far less likely to effect your business.
Consumer product companies can use sites like Pinterest and Instagram to visually market their goods while increasing the strength of their online image.
This company has created a rich, image-heavy Pinterest site that showcases related products which people can ‘pin’ themselves and pass on in their social networks.
Michaels weaves ideas and DIY projects into their collection of product images, compelling followers to spend more time on the site.
Using Instagram to Connect Customers with Your Company
9 Tips: Boost Your Business With Pinterest
A few more things to remember
It’s our goal to make you rethink the common myths and falsehoods surrounding internet reputation management for businesses. Your company can effectively manage its own reputation online, and you do have a powerful set of tools at your disposal for doing so – one of them being this online reputation guide.
As you begin following our steps toward engineering a reputation ‘halo’, you’ll become more adept at using the tools we’ve outlined, as well as some others you’ll discover for yourself. Tackling the issues that may have seemed insurmountable before will become second nature.
Remember, every effort you make now will buttress your company from future reputation attacks – a safeguard worth working for.
…and of course, you can always contact Reputation X if you need more help.
[i] Source: Golden Nuggets From SMX Search Analytics by Josh Dreller - http://searchengineland.com/golden-nuggets-from-smx-search-analytics-17544
[ii] Source: Creating Websites Optimized for Google’s Panda Algorithm by Adam Heitzman - http://sixrevisions.com/content-strategy/creating-websites-optimized-for-googles-panda-algorithm/