If you’re musing about improving your online reputation, it might help to have an idea of the direction you’re going in. This brief guide can help you formulate a plan and take action.
Take stock of your online reputation
A baseline understanding of your current reputation is necessary before you can fix it. Look into what people are saying about you. If you're reading this, you probably already have.
You can go deep with this or linger at the surface, but this must be the first thing you do. Performing a quick Google search on your company or brand name is an easy way to see what’s out there. Add modified versions of your brand like "Acme Explosives" and then "Acme Explosives Reviews", etc.
A quick look at the bottom of nearly any Google search result will provide you with similar searches you might try.
1. Listen for mentions - Setup TalkWalker
TalkWalker is a free mention monitoring service. The first thing you should do is put your brand search in their system to start receiving emails when they find it.
2. Examine your reviews
According to BrightLocal.com, nearly 40 percent of people use online review sites regularly to determine the quality of a business. A number like that requires attention. So, for the next step, take some time to browse around on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for the latest of what people are saying. Check online review sites like Angie’s List as well, and listen to what reviewers say about you. If things are out of order, take note - we’ll come back to this later.
3. Check accuracy of online profiles
Another thing to think about is what you look like online to people who don't already know your brand. Your online profiles should have pictures with relevant descriptions, the available options for details and more information should contain pristine copy, and all of this should have a branded feel. Again, if things aren’t what they should be, keep track of what and where for the next step.
4. Level set against the competition
Now that you have an idea of how you look online, compare yourself to your top three competitors online. Read their articles, read their reviews, get an idea of how they're portrayed online.
5. Locate any problem online content
6. Perform outreach to a list of publishers
When you look at your competition, note where they have been written about in a positive way. Make a list. Then use an outreach program to get mentioned there too.
It’s time to go back to those problems you discovered during your audit. Maybe a reviewer felt that your bar had too many drinks on the menu, or that your dairy farm reeked of beet stew. Also, if your online presence seemed weak during the audit, this is the step where you clean it up and bring out the big guns.
Managing online reviews
People trust online reviews as reputable sources. That means that the more positive online reviews you have the better, and that any negative reviews you have should be taken seriously and handled appropriately. If you found that there are negative reviews about your company or brand, a great first step is to respond to them. In the world of reviews, reality bows to perception.
In the world of online reviews, reality bows to perception
When responding to negative online reviews, it’s important to use your intuition. Some people want to burn you no matter the cost. Those are the kinds of people you should politely avoid. Other reviews are legitimate grievances, however, and deserve genuine replies. Simply remember to keep your wits about you and to not invigorate character attacks or offensiveness.
Another way to improve the online review part of your online reputation is to ask for reviews from satisfied customers. Potential customers are searching for you, so the more positive reviews you have the better off you are.
Clean up your social media presence
Delete. Delete. Delete the bad stuff.
If the audit revealed a weak online presence, now is the time to take full advantage of the great opportunity social media provides to bring in new customers.
- Optimize keywords. Through minimal SEO efforts, huge gains can be made in the visibility of your brand or company. Throw some relevant keywords into text blocks and name things precisely.
- Buff it up; make it robust and rich. Platforms like Twitter limit the amount of words you can use in descriptions and posts. Others, like Facebook and LinkedIn, make allowances for quite a lot of words. This gives you the freedom to be expressive and elaborate in a useful way -- capitalize on this!
If you’re an individual, define your personal brand on your social media accounts. Clearly communicate your vision and let your voice come through.
Monitor the future
At this point you’ve determined where you stand and made changes to improve that standing. This last part is the most important, though -- keeping track of your reputation. Schedule a little time to monitor what people are saying. The process is the same as before when you performed a search on your brand or company, and when you browsed online review sites. These steps are ongoing, and your presence online will not go unnoticed by customers.
As mentioned above, TalkWalker is our pick for simple and free brand monitoring. Using other social media monitoring tools can help, as well. This is another situation where you can really delve into the depths or float at the surface, it’s up to you. Depending on the prominence of your brand, you may even need to dedicate a role at your company for this ongoing reputation maintenance.