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Picture this: it’s Friday night. You and a friend or significant other are looking for a restaurant to go to.

After discussing what’s better — Chinese or Italian — you decide on a cuisine and look up local places. Some places show up more easily than others in the search results.

As you’re looking, you see stars next to their names. You see reviews, too.

If you see a low star rating, a lot of negative reviews, and several negative search results, you probably don’t want to eat there, right?

We’ve just described how important a business’ online reputation is. It’s so powerful in fact that over 80% of consumers use it to make purchasing decisions.

Have you looked at your online reputation lately? What have you done to manage it?

If you answered “no” and “not much”, we’re going to walk you through the ins and outs of what is online reputation management and how to use it to your advantage to grow your business.

What is Online Reputation Management?

Your online reputation consists of a few elements: your search engine results page (SERP) ranking and your rating among consumers.

You can read more here about the specific ins and outs of ORM.

Managing your online reputation takes dedication. Things change all the time and you need someone committed to staying on top of it.

More than half of business executives believe they need ORM services, yet only 15% of them ever take any action.

Be proactive and take control of your online reputation management. Here are five keys to help you do just that.

1. Google Yourself

First things first: do a search for you and your company’s name. Take note of what comes up.

Hopefully, it’s all factual and positive information. If not, then you’ve got an online reputation management issue.

There are a few solutions. Here are some ideas to clean up your search engine results page rankings.

If there’s a site with a negative post, try reaching out to them. Contacting someone and offering a solution in exchange for them removing a post doesn’t always work, but why not try?

Publish your own positive posts to clear out the bad. You can start a blog and stay current on your social media sites.

2. Verify Your Account Across All Platforms

As a business, you no doubt have some sort of online presence. Are all of those online platforms in your control?

You should obviously have a domain registered in your name. Beyond that, take a look at other platforms that you might have to claim.

Take control of your Google My Business and Yelp listing. Set up social media accounts, like Facebook and Twitter, in your name and get them verified.

Watch out for what others tag you or mention you in. Don’t let angry customers add unflattering photos to any of your online profiles, like Google My Business or Facebook.

Another important tip: make sure your NAP — Name, Address, and Phone — is the same on all of your profiles.

3. Create Your Own Content

We mentioned before that you can create your own positive posts to improve your SERP ranking. This seems daunting, but is more manageable than you think.

There are several ways to publish content. Use one or many of them to get the best results.

Press releases of new products or services offered always make factual and topical posts. Your company can start a blog and write about whatever is going on in the office, the history of your business, or industry news.

Once you start thinking of topics, they’ll come to you. Remembering why you do what you do will guide your writing.

Want to get really creative? Try your hand at making YouTube videos or even doing live Facebook or Instagram sessions.

4. Answer All Reviews

This is a big one: you need to stay on top of any reviews that pop up. Once you’re listed on Facebook, Google My Business, Yelp, etc., reviews are sure to start coming your way.

It can be mundane to answer tons of positive or even lukewarm reviews. And it can be scary to deal with an angry customer online.

Here’s how to handle any online reviews:

  • If it’s positive, say thank you in a genuine way. Mention something they mention and always use their name.
  • If it’s negative, do damage control. Say that you are upset they had a bad experience and genuinely apologize.
  • Don’t go into great detail. Try to keep it light and take the discussion offline by offering them an email.
  • From there, try to find a resolution. If you’re successful, ask the customer to update their review.

While it can be daunting, answering all reviews — even negative ones — show that you care. Plus it boosts your SEO.

5. Be Vigilant

Online reputation protection isn’t a “one and done” type thing. Information changes every day.

Small companies need to take an hour each day to look over your profiles and answer any reviews. Larger companies might want to invest in online reputation management services as part of their online marketing strategy.

Be sure that you have a system set up for online reputation management. Have a dedicated email where reviews and comments can get to the right people.

Besides being vigilant about what others say about you, you need to be sure about what you want to post. Things that are online today will be online tomorrow.

Don’t rush to fire off a tweet or a blog post without giving it some thought. Don’t post pictures that you wouldn’t want your customers to see.

Bonus tip: set up a Google alert for your company’s name. That way, you’ll be on top of any mentions of your name.

Protect Your Online Reputation Today

Now that we’ve thoroughly answered the question “what is online reputation management”, you can start shoring up your business’ online footprint.

As you can see, these five keys take just a little of your time but make a big difference. Don’t let others manage your digital presence.

If you found this post informative, there’s more where that came from. Check out our business information section to learn more about what’s going on locally and around the world.

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