DIY Reputation Management: Five Tips for Business Owners

A guest post by Rich Gorman

There is a saying in online marketing circles, that a company’s online reputation is like its business card. In reality, though, that’s not really accurate — because in truth, online reputation is much more than that. It’s not just a company’s business card, but the very source of its credibility and authority. Your online reputation is what determines whether clients and colleagues will do business with you at all — or instead reject you in favor of your closest competition.

Think about it. In the Age of Google, a potential client can look up information about your business in a heartbeat. If that client only finds negative reviews and bad publicity, well, your brand is in trouble. It’s all too easy for the client to conduct another quick online search, and find one of your rival companies to do business with — a company with a cleaner online reputation.

If, however, a potential client Googles your company and finds only evidence that your business is sterling, trusted, and authoritative… well, then you’re good to go!

That’s what online reputation management is all about: Minimizing negative listings on the first few pages of search engine results, and ensuring that potential clients find only information that portrays your brand in a positive light — as a brand of choice among consumers.

A full-scale online reputation management campaign is something any company or brand should consider, but there are also some simpler, DIY tactics that any business owner can implement. Consider the following tips for protecting your reputation, and defending yourselves from online attacks on the Internet.

The first thing any small business owner should do is start regularly monitoring his or her online reputation. This can be as easy as regularly searching for your company’s name on Google, Yahoo, and Bing — but of course, setting up a Google alert is an even more effective method. Don’t just stop with search engines, though; you can also monitor what people are saying about your brand on social networks, simply through conducting Twitter searches.

Monitoring will let you know where you stand, and whether attacks have already been made against your brand. Your next step is to start playing some defense. Remember that there is nothing you can do to stop people from attacking you on the Web, per se — but you can make it so that consumers and online search users don’t ever see those online attacks. Your best bet is to build a strong, defensive wall of positive, brand-enhancing content — a wall to keep those negative attacks off the first page of Google.

A good defense means snatching up the best online real estate. Start with exact-match domain names — Your-company’s-name .com, .org, and .net. These are the pages that will likely rank the highest on Google, when someone searches for your company — and as such, you want to make sure your enemies and rival companies don’t have access to these pages! Even if you don’t plan to use all of these domains, you should buy them anyway. If you’ve got ’em, your enemies can’t use ’em.

Getting these domain names is important, but so is getting social media accounts — on Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest. Again, you may not plan to actively use all of these accounts, but signing up for them is still important.

After that, the next phase of the reputation defense campaign is building a strong, defensive wall. This is something you must do brick by brick — with each piece of content you write and publish being a brick in your defensive wall. The goal here is essentially to flood Google, Yahoo, and Bing with positive content about your company, effectively drowning out any negative listings or bad reviews. The more content you publish to these online domains and social media accounts, the better.

This is the most time-intensive part of the reputation defense process, but also the most important. It’s an ongoing job, too. Google rankings are based, to a degree, on “freshness” — so a Facebook account or a blog that has new posts every couple of days will be much more helpful to you than an account or blog that is only updated once every two months.

Here’s one final word of caution: Generally speaking, you’re going to want to resist the temptation to respond to negative reviews, on sites like Yelp.com. Responding to negative feedback may make you feel better, but in the end, it’s only drawing more attention to these undesirable listings. Better to aim for suppression — achieved through the high volumes of content mentioned above!

Reputation management is not easy, and it does require some time and a commitment to writing good, compelling content on a regular basis. With that said, a strong online reputation is invaluable. There’s no way for a business to succeed without one. As such, investing in reputation management is something no company should fail to consider.

About the Author

Rich Gorman is involved with multiple companies and is an expert in reputation management. Additionally Rich operates the official blog for the Direct Response industry where he shares his thoughts on Direct Response Marketing.

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Online reputation management – what do you do when someone repeatedly posts negative comments on your Facebook page?

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

An email from a person I know on Twitter and Facebook prompted this post. She manages the Facebook page of a pretty well known brand with a positive online reputation.

But a disgruntled former employee has a bee in his bonnet, and has been posting negative comments on their Facebook page. Not just under his own name but also by registering multiple fake accounts and posting the same things under those names too (not very bright, our chap 😉 )

Of course, she has been removing the posts, which accuse the directors of the company of fraud and embezzlement, bullying, affairs and more. And names them every time. However, this is obviously a time consuming way of managing the situation.

In most cases, if negative things are posted, I advise that they are responded to calmly and dealt with in a way that shows that the company is open and responsive to criticism as well as praise.

But I’ve seen these messages and believe me they are pretty foul, and as far as I can tell have no basis in truth.

So what should she do? Of course, she could disallow postings on the page from people who aren’t admins, but then that takes away the very social aspect of having a Facebook page.

Deleting the posts and reporting the accounts, and banning them from the page, works in the short term. but when someone is so vitriolic and registers even more accounts to carry on their ‘work’, it becomes a never ending cycle.

So, over to you guys. How would you deal with this? What can she do that will not take up hours of her time a day checking the page and removing / banning / reporting?

This kind of thing is starting to happen more and more as people realise the power of social media – have you faced a similar problem? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Getting rid of bad reviews online – online reputation management

displeased breakfastIt seems that the more you ‘put yourself out there’ on the internet, the greater target you become.

At first it’s great – customers and clients give you fantastic reviews, you add yourselves to more and more sites and directories, set up google Alerts to receive emails whenever you’re mentioned online, and all is good with the world.

But then comes the day that you receive a bad review online – or even more. Your alerts tell you that someone or some people are saying bad things, and you’re not altogether sure what to do.

It may be that the reviews are justified, or it could be that someone is ‘out to get you’ – either way it doesn’t make nice reading.

In some cases you can go to the review sites and refute the allegations, put your side of the story, or have the review removed if you can prove that it is untrue. In other cases though, you can’t. Lots of review sites allow anonymous reviews, and although it’s massively unfair, there’s not a lot you can do about it.

So how can you avoid potential customers and clients seeing bad reviews of your service?

If you can’t fix it or refute it, and getting it removed isn’t an option, then you may want to consider burying it.

What does this mean? Quite simply you need to drive the bad reviews off the front page of Google, Bing and wherever else – so that potential customers looking for you on the Internet find YOU and GOOD THINGS about you before they find bad reviews.

Back in December I talked about developing your circle of credibility – and this is kind of an extension of that – making sure that when people search for you online they find you in various places with results that leave them feeling good about you. Let’s recap on the things I said were good to have:

Your company website. Ideally your website will be in the number one position, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have prominent links showing to the main areas of your website, including testimonials.

Your website is probably the first thing someone will be looking for, so make sure it contains some great testimonials / reviews, and shows you at your best. Case studies, examples of work and quotes from happy clients are great for showing you in a good light.

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– Your blog. Whether your blog is attached to your website, or a separate entity, it gives any potential client a flavour of your thoughts, opinions and expertise. A quick read through a corporate blog can often tell you much more than a company website, as a blog tends to be more informal and have more of a ‘personality’ – make sure yours is visible and showing the side of you that you want people to see.

– Your Twitter profile. Of course, this is only a good thing if you WANT people to find it, and if you’ve thought about your company image and brand while posting tweets :) If your Twitter profile is full of ‘Got a hangover and don’t know the name of the man I woke up with this morning’ then it’s probably best if you give it a different name ;)

However, if you use your Twitter profile as part of your company brand then having it show up as one of the results for your company name is a good thing.

Your LinkedIn and online networking profiles. Along with places such as UK Business forums, UK Business Labs, Xing, WeCanDo.biz, BT Tradespace and more, your LinkedIn profile shows that you appear in various places online that are related to business. These profiles, especially if very active and up to date, show that you’re not just a fly by night, and that you can be tracked down in the event of any problems. This is especially important if you’re a ‘virtual’ company, in my opinion.

Articles you’ve written. Whether they are articles on your own site, or articles on somewhere authoritative such as Ezine Articles, having your content easily findable shows you spend time promoting yourself, and those articles could be the difference between you showing your expertise or becoming just another ‘also ran’ in the competition for someone’s business.

Interviews. If you’ve been asked to do interviews and the transcripts or audio files are online, then they’re a great way for a potential customer to learn more about you – if you’ve not been asked to do interviews, start making it known that you’re available!

Videos. Whether it’s your very own YouTube channel, or videos on your site, having videos show up in the search results for your company name is a good thing. Not everyone likes reading reams of text about how great you are ;)

Your Facebook profile and / or  Fan Page. This is only a good thing if you’re aware that your Facebook profile could be seen as part of a ‘fact finding’ mission by potential customers. If your profile is available to all (and Fan Pages are by default) then make sure it shows your best side, not just your wild and possibly drunken side ;)

Basically, you want the search results for your company or your name to show a well rounded promotion of your company and services. When people see your website, your blog, your Twitter profile and Facebook Fan Page, numerous articles written by you, interviews, videos etc, they see that you’ve been around a while, that you’re not going anywhere and that you’re probably the person that they want to deal with.

That’s why we always recommend to our clients that they have up to date profiles in as many places as possible, that they blog and write articles regularly, and that they bear in mind their Circle of Credibility, no matter what they’re doing online.

Unfortunately, when it comes to burying bad reviews, the above isn’t always enough (although it’s a good start). Review sites and blogs, by their very nature, do well in search engines such as Google, and you may have to work a little harder to ensure your positive results come above the negative ones.

If you’re interested in finding out more about getting rid of bad reviews online and managing your online reputation, get in touch.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Genista

BT Tradespace – 10 out of 10 for Online Reputation Management

A few days ago I posted a blog entry titled Places to find Nikki Pilkington – not because I imagine that the world and his dog cares about where to find me, but in response to fairly regular emails and because I had run out of things to say 🙂

In it I mentioned BT Tradespace and commented that i used to use them a lot, but as the system had slowed down I had stopped. 3 days later I rceeived a comment on the blog post from  Alex, the Head of Technology and operations at BT Tradespace. I’ve conversed with Alex in the past and now he is always open to new ideas and thoughts.

Today I received another comment on the blog, this time from Antonio, the impressively named Chief Architect of BT Tradespace.

What struck me is that this is an impressive piece of Online Reputation Management – my criticism of BT Tradespace amounted to only a few words, and they could have ignored it and hoped it wouldn’t affect anyone’s perception of them. They could have responded defensively and aggressively, as I have seen other companies do.

But they didn’t. instead they took the time to respond in a very friendly and appreciative manner, and to let me knwo the steps they were taking to fix the issues.

THAT’S what online reputation management is about and for that alone i’m giving BT Tradespace 10 out of 10.

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