Online Reputation Management

SERPS matter when your reputation is online and “on the line”

Reputation Management Graphic

A company’s reputation can get disheveled with a single bad comment on directory or review website

People are talking about you and your organization online. They’re talking about you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and perhaps even Yelp. You can find out by “Googling yourself” or your business. The search engine result pages (SERPs) from Google, Bing, Yahoo and others will tell the story. What shows up on the first page? Hopefully your personal or business website, or your blogs are right up there toward the top. Your social media presence is usually good, too, like your LinkedIn profile or your YouTube account.

Unfortunately, that first, or second, page might display a negative review of your business, or perhaps your name and/or photo is displayed because someone shared a less than flattering photo with you in it. Maybe you said something that was captured in an article or on video that you didn’t intend to be for public consumption. None of us are exempt from making mistakes, or being criticized – whether it’s fair or not. It happens all the time and today it can be oh so easily captured on the Internet.

How to mediate online reputation mishaps

Since we agree, “stuff happens on the Net,” what do we do about online reputation mishaps? You could hire a service if it makes economic sense and you desire third party expertise. If you’re like me, you want to be more hands on with such an important matter. And not everyone can afford an online reputation management service. Let’s take a look at the ways you can do most online reputation management yourself.

Monitor your search results daily for negative reputation posts

Set up free “Google Alerts” notices for keywords like, “your business name,” “your full name,” and perhaps common misspellings of those terms. You should also monitor your competitors using Google Alerts. Besides reputation monitoring, you might gain good competitive insights on your competitors. Consider using a paid alert notice, if you don’t feel the free Google Alerts feature is satisfactory. Monitoring is the most important step in the process of online reputation management. If you want a positive and clean online reputation, you must monitor.

Claim or take ownership of our local listings

Like it or not, there are numerous directory and/or review sites on the Internet. You probably have at least a basic listing on many of them. They’ll include your business name, industry or category, address, phone, website, etc. The information might even be correct, but you never know until you take a look. You should claim some of these directory/review profiles. Claiming simply means signing on the directory/review site as the owner of the business. It’s usually free and allows you to include current information about your business and upload an image, such as your logo.
Review sites may have additional features, such as display advertising, that are revenue producers for the site. You are not obliged to buy those add-ons, and they may or may not be worthwhile for your business. Most directory/review sites offer free statistics on visits to your profile, and a way to respond to negative comments. On a site like Yelp, be thoughtful when responding to negative comments. Consider responding “publicly,” “privately,” or not at all. Quite often, my best advice to clients is not to respond – the risks often outweigh the potential rewards. There are a number of directory/review sites. Some of the more important ones are Yelp, Google+, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yellow Pages and Angie’s List. Of course, you’ll want to monitor them, which is relatively easy to do once you claim your profile.

Encourage positive customer reviews on popular local business directories

With the proliferation of business review sites on the Internet it’s become paramount for businesses of any size and type to have a thoughtful strategy to encourage positive Internet reviews and manage their Internet reputation. Reviews tend to get high placement on SERPS. Here are few ideas that can be tailored to your business and comfort zone:

  • Call or send personal message to customers you believe will give positive online reviews for you and your business. Ask them to join the review site and say something positive about you or your business.
  • Invite people who “like you” on Facebook, link with you on LinkedIn, etc. to make positive comments on one or more review sites.
  • Invite customers to respond to an electronic survey (like Survey Monkey) and ask positive reviewers if they’ll post a favorable comment on a review site.
  • Put a link (and words of encouragement) on your website to review sites. Make it easy for people to click and get to your profile on Yelp, Google+, Yahoo Local, etc.
  • After delivering stellar service or making a transaction sale, personally ask the client if they’ll post a favorable comment on a review site. The worst they can say is “No.”
Health club reaches out image

This health club reached out to happy members on Facebook, requesting them to post positive comments on Yelp

Add and share appealing content

This is my personal favorite – maybe because I enjoy creating content. Add news/blog posts at least monthly. Continue to add/share content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media outposts. If you cannot get a negative comment removed from a review site, like Yelp or Yahoo Local, then it will probably continue to be indexed on SERPS (i.e., show up on searches for your company name or personal name). The best way to mitigate those negative comments just happens to be the best way to market your business on the Internet. Proactively publish content that is interesting and useful to your audiences. “How to” articles, white papers, interesting anecdotes, etc. are all great things to share. Some people like to curate relevant content by finding remarkable content from around the web and share it in their blog or via an email newsletter, like MailChimp. Success means pushing any negative comments down from the top of SERPs (off of Google’s page one).

Diversify your online presence

I most often recommend that people and businesses only have the number of social media outposts they can reasonably manage. However, additional social media outposts can further add to your online footprint and help push any negative search results down the page. Consider adding other social media, such as Twitter, Slideshare, Quora, Pinterest, Flickr, etc. Some experts say to create “personal hubs” that link to your social media profiles in order to further diversify. “About me” and “BrandYourself” are noteworthy providers, both with free versions of their product. You could also create a free blog, using your full name as the domain name. WordPress and Blogger are popular and free blogging platforms.

Send out press releases to electronic media

Distributing electronic press releases offer a low cost and easy way to obtain publicity, website traffic and reputation management in an “all in one” online package. Search-optimized press releases can rank highly in Google, Bing and Yahoo searches for pertinent keyword searches, giving your organization another opportunity to own a top Google slot. Your press releases should incorporate keywords relating to your business and can be distributed to local publishers as well as online newswire services. Topics can include:

  • Industry-related trends
  • Problem/solution case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Availability of white papers or “point of view” articles
  • “How to” guides

After distributing your press releases, be sure to further leverage them by bookmarking them on Del.icio.us, Digg, Technorati, StumbleUpon and other social bookmarking websites. Mention them on your other social media outposts, like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to boost your search engine reputation management effort.
It’s very important to actively own or at least influence top Internet search results because it’s rather difficult to push down negative content once it’s indexed. The good news is that the steps you take are also good SEO practices in general.

(I help people and businesses with online and traditional marketing communication services. I’m particularly experienced at serving financial service, professional service and small businesses. Contact me for more information.)




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