It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business or an individual: If you’re you asking, “how can I fix my reputation online?” you’re not alone.
Reputation management isn’t rocket science but, to be effective, it must be governed by a process that adapts to every campaign’s unique aspects. For most campaigns, this process consists of these five steps:
The last three steps repeat, sometimes indefinitely.
The first step to solving reputation problems online is the research phase, which we’ll focus on in this article. Here’s how reputation management research works:
It begins with identifying the top search phrases associated with you or your business. These may be—or may relate to—your industry; your name or company name; titles and associations.
These search phrases are usually identified with either the Awareness, Consideration or Decision stages of the buyers journey. Put another way, reputation solutions coincide closely with where a prospect is in their journey to becoming your customer (or employer, partner, etc.).
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After initial keyword research, we use Reputool, a proprietary reputation management tool. You can use the free public version of our online reputation management tool to get a sense of it.
For each search phrase that’s relevant to your online reputation, RepuTool identifies the top baseline (pre-campaign) results, groups them into categories and “scores” each on a sliding scale. These scores are important: Once your campaign is in progress, it’s a great way to refer back in order to gauge success and make any necessary adjustments.
Next, we identify similar people and/or companies to see what their search results look like. Search results often include video, text, images, news and social media. We typically identify about 10 other companies or individuals in different locations and conduct exhaustive search analyses, looking for patterns to help us chart a course forward to the rest of your reputation marketing campaign.
Influencers and hashtags
Long ago, when “social media” meant inviting your friends over to watch CNN, search results were pretty much all that mattered for your online reputation.
These days, we have to think about things like hashtags and influencers. It’s critical to know who is saying what about you, good or bad. That’s why social influencer and hashtag research is used to determine the social topics and influential people driving the conversation in your corner of the Internet. These influencers and hashtags are critical to the later stages of your reputation management process because they may be contacted during the promotion phase.
With information about you, your competitors, your influencers and hashtags in hand, we conduct a gap analysis—a review of your relative strengths and weaknesses. We pay special attention to websites that show up on our strong domain list, as these sites tend to rank highly in search results no matter the quality or relevance of the content on them. These strong sites may also push your owned sites’ results upward if you can attract inbound links to relevant pages you control from their pages. The end result of the gap analysis is a firm list of reputation threats and opportunities unique to your online presence.
Sentiment and Control
At this point research has revealed how people feel about your brand online (sentiment) and how much of your online brand you control. We’ve measured which sites you control, and those you don’t. We’ve identified influencers and trends that may affect you.
Reputation control pages
Knowing the right Web properties to build is key. But before we begin building websites, creating content and conducting social campaigns in earnest, we draw up a unique, personalized development plan to create the perfect search results page and sustain a positive social conversation around you or your company. Your development plan includes a list of Web properties to develop, a list of strong domains to interact with, the framework of a social campaign, a manageable development schedule and much more.
Reputation marketing research? Check. On to step two of the journey to fix your reputation online: development.