The relationship between businesses and consumers is closer than ever before. Brands can livestream their office, answer questions within seconds, and send a tweet before forming a complete thought. This social, often more casual relationship can be great for business…until consumers know too much, or have access to inaccurate or defamatory information.
Take the infamous spring 2017 for a certain airline. United faced an turbulent month following scandal after scandal. A passenger was forcibly removed from a plane and users shared videos of the incident with a few clicks. Days later, news broke that a bulldog had died after it had been placed in the overhead compartment of a flight. News scandals break every day from all parts of the world, but unfortunately for United, many people still associate the airline with a bad reputation.
A year later, stories about the bulldog are still appearing on United’s first page of search results. It can quickly turn potential passengers, dog owners or not, away from booking a ticket, even if they have to pay a little extra money to do so. If consumers didn’t know about the story before, they will from a quick Google search.
How Negative Stories and Content Can Affect a Business
Online search results is social proof that drives consumers to make purchase decisions; when your business is stuck with a bad online reputation, things can look grim, and not just in the short-term. Negative reviews and information can feel like a roadblock that is impossible to move; 88% of adults believe that it would be very difficult to remove inaccurate online information. Even if misinformed customers or spiteful ex-employees are spreading total lies, that information may still be trusted and you may lose business. So what can you do?
We’ve got good news. It’s not impossible to remove or hide defamatory information. It’s not impossible to flip a bad online reputation and see a positive first page of search engine results. All it takes is some patience and online reputation management.
What Is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management takes a look at what customers, clients, and employers see when they research your company online. What is the impression they are getting from research? Are online users enjoying your products and services? Who is talking about your company, and what do they praise or criticise most?
If a user’s research includes defamatory blogs, websites, or stories about your business, then you could be turning people off before they have the chance to try your products or even speak with one of your representatives.
Online reputation management looks at the stories and content that people are reading about your company and adjusts how they appear in search engines and on social media. If defamatory stories are at the top, for example, online reputation managers will push those stories farther down in search engine rankings and put more positive stories in front of users searching for your company.
Online reputation management is sometimes referred to a search engine reputation management (SERM.) Since between 88-92% of employers and clients will conduct an online search of your business before engaging with you, the emphasis on monitoring and managing search results is a huge part of online reputation management. If your buyers, however, research through means besides search engines (social media, online forums, etc.,) then online reputation management will reach further than just Google search results.
The goals of online reputation management will depend on the business, what their current reputation is, and the impression they want to make online. These goals may be different for different businesses, but is all apart of how the brand is portrayed and sold to online users.
Why Online Reputation Management Is More Important Than Ever
Traditional and outbound marketing methods were very business-centric. The business controlled the message to customers through direct advertisements, cold calling, and other information that was thrown directly to the customer. Consumers could respond to the business with calls or purchases, but there weren’t many opportunities for consumers to reach out to each other and discuss the business.
Fast forward to today. Inbound marketing methods are customer-centric. Businesses write informational blog posts to give consumers answers that they are looking for before they even introduce their products. Inbound strategies are focused on bringing consumers in to a business’s website through content, social media, and incentives that eventually lead the consumer to buying a product or service.
Consumers conduct research about a business online, and have infinite opportunities to express their opinions on the brand and find out anything they need to know before making a purchase. Online research can give consumers the names of your employees, any causes you have supported in the past, health code violations, etc. If consumers dig up something that they don’t like, they’ll share it with people who are still forming an opinion about your business. Content creation is not limited to businesses.
User generated content can have a profound impact on a business, and this impact could be positive or negative. This trend of consumers researching and discussing businesses has led to the need for online reputation management.
Online reputation management monitors how consumers enter the buyer’s journey with your business, and where online research could either move that process along or halt it entirely.
Ways To Conduct Online Reputation Management
Optimising Your Marketing Materials
If your business doesn’t have any defamatory stories or concerning information popping up on search engine results, optimisation is merely a preventative measure. Take the time to take all the necessary steps for optimising your page and ensuring that the first page of Google results related to your business contains positive and informational resources. These positive resources could include:
- Your website
- Your LinkedIn and social media profiles
- Positive news stories
- Content produced and distributed by your business
Optimising your landing pages and other marketing content isn’t just about boosting a positive reputation. If you customers can’t find what they are searching for, they will give up or more onto a competitor; half of all potential sales are lost because customers have given up looking for information that they can’t find.
Only 7% of Internet users go past the first page of Google search results. The content that you have needs to be optimised to make a difference to consumers.
Constant Monitoring On Search Results and Social
Online reputation management is not a one-time job. If you have some unappealing websites or stories removed and hidden, you may be able to check them off your list once and not worry about them for months (if ever.) New stories still come out every day, and businesses have to take the time and effort to manage and maintain their online reputation. Monitoring your image is a crucial, ongoing part of online reputation management.
This includes social media monitoring. When are users posting on Twitter about your company? Who is relaying experiences with your business on Facebook? What news, images, and stories about you are being shared throughout social media channels? The best way to put out a fire is to douse it at the first sight of flames. Constant social media monitoring allows you to shut down defamatory or inaccurate content before it spreads across different channels and to potential customers.
Online reputation management is so important because consumers trust other consumers, even if they are living across the world or have never met before. Online reviews are important; 84% of people trust these reviews as much as they would trust a recommendation from a friend or family member. Encouraging your current clients and supporters to create positive user generated content (UGC) and leave positive reviews can show just how valuable your products and services can be to like-minded consumers. Businesses only get five stars; each one is important. A one-star change can mean a 5-9% change in revenue. Use the resources you have (and that users trust) by making UGC a top priority.
Control Your Online Reputation With Monitoring From Digital Squad
Everyone deserves a clean slate and a second chance. At Digital Squad, we are dedicated to working with you to promote the positive services you offer your clients without the clutter of inaccurate or unsavoury search results. Let us put you in a brighter light online with online reputation management.
We are primarily an SEO agency, which works to our advantage when monitoring and managing your online reputation. Our SEO knowledge can increase the rankings of content that you control and want to see at the top of search engine results, rather than the stories and false information that may be currently lurking on the first or second page.
When you work with Digital Squad, you’re more than just a client. We treat every business that we work with as a partner, and only take on one partner per industry. Our success lies in your success; our reputation lies in your reputation. Our team of experts will use all of our digital marketing expertise to improve your reputation and help you meet your goals for growth this year.
Megan Okonsky is a copywriter and content marketing specialist with Digital Squad. She is originally from Philadelphia but has landed in Melbourne after traveling for eight months in Southeast Asia and New Zealand. She also teaches vinyasa yoga online.