Effective Approaches in Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management has become a very popular issue in the business world nowadays. Today’s consumers are more engaged with the products they bought as well as with the companies behind those products. Thanks to the Internet, these people are no longer just a passive audience, they can voice their opinions, satisfaction, disappointment or whatever it is they want to share about the products or services they bought in various channels available on the Internet.

This condition can either have positive or negative impacts to the companies providing products or services, depends on the type of comments being posted by these consumers. In this case, the saying “there’s no such thing as bad publication” just doesn’t apply. It may not apply if you’re a controversial celebrity like Kanye West, Miley Cyrus or Paris Hilton, because any kind of publicity could only help these figures become more famous. But in business, bad publicity is very real and it does pose a real threat.

Regardless of the size of your business, people will talk about it online, they tweet about your latest product, leave a comment on a blog regarding their opinion about your business, post their experience as your customer on Facebook, discuss about your products or company in online forums, and many more. There’s a reason why these expressions and opinions make a lot of businesses think that online reputation is a very important thing, thus online reputation management becomes vital in today’s business environment.

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10 Tips to Improve your Reputation

Social Media Monitoring

One of the most common practices in online reputation management is by taking a proactive approach that involves monitoring your online reputation on real time basis regularly. This method is known as social media monitoring.This strategy helps companies to stay alert on every publicly available online content that relates to their business, whether in blog posts, tweets, reviews, Facebook status, comments, or other online channels. After they gather this information, they process it and see whether there are positive or negative comments that can affect their reputation, and then decide the best kind of action they need to take in order to maintain their good reputation. They can do this monitoring themselves by using free or paid resources like Google Alert for example, or hire a professional to do it for them.However, the most important part of this proactive monitoring activity is to make the best decision of what to do with the information they have gathered.

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What you need to understand is that a good reputation management is not always about reacting properly to online contents that relate to your business, but also to decide whether it's necessary for you to react at all, and when. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just observe and take notes, and sometimes a timely reaction is necessary. A lot of businesses have learned the hard way and lose millions because they didn't react at the right time.

Types of Negative Content

Basically there are two types of online negative content that you might have to deal with. The first type of negative content is complaints or negative comments about your business found in social networks. These comments are usually personal and most of them actually don’t pose a real threat. But it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to them, because some of these comments might go viral and “negatively convincing”. In this case you need to act fast and react properly to maintain your reputation.

The second type of negative content are those being posted on online channels that are prominent in search results. These content could be highly destructive to your business. Just imagine if somebody Googles your brand name, but instead of finding your company’s website, the person finds webpages with defamatory content. These could be in forms of:

Review Sites - These are thousands or probably even millions of review sites on the Internet. Some of these websites are focusing on products or services in specific industries, while others are more general. A lot of these sites have great ranks on search engines, so bad reviews on your products or services could give terrible impacts on your business.

Hate Sites - These are like review sites, but instead of reviewing various products, these sites are focusing on giving negative opinions on a specific subject, like a company or public figure. A lot of these sites actually publish false information with insulting comments, but they still can rank high on search results and influence a lot of people.

Negative Media Coverage - This is a whole new level of bad publicity, it could be a negative coverage on online media sites, print media or even on TV. Often it’s a result of a poorly executed online reputation management. For example, a company who over reacted or overly defensive to a negative online comment, which finally got the media attention. Another example is a company that filed a lawsuit over a negative comment from one of their consumers, which backfired after the media covered the story and most people showed sympathy to the unfortunate consumer.

Online Reputation Management Best Practices

There are so many angles in online reputation management, from gathering the information to the way you handle negative comments. But there is a general guideline that you can follow to keep your good reputation:

1.Maintain trust and respect - Consumers’ trust is everything in business, it’s hard to gain and even harder to maintain. Remember to be respectful when you react to any negative comment, you can only earn respect from others when you show respect.

2.Be Transparent - Learn to accept any feedback and opinions, whether they are good or bad, then handle them appropriately.

3.Don’t forget the positive comments - Don’t just concentrate on the negative ones, you also need to manage the positive feedbacks, because they could bring more business for you.

4.Act quickly and polite - This is why it’s important to monitor your online reputation on a real time basis. When you notice a complain in Twitter and answer quickly with a simple “we’re aware of the problem and we’ve been working to fix it”, it will give a tremendous impact on your business.

5.Handle criticism gracefully - Always think criticism as something that can make your business better, helps you see your weaknesses and gives you a chance to make some improvements.

6.Google ranking is important - Make sure your customers can find your legitimate business page when they search in Google, instead of finding hate sites with negative content about your products.

7.Learn from your mistakes - Repeating the same mistakes is just plain stupid. Learn from your mistakes and do what’s necessary to avoid it in the future.

8.Sometimes you need to attack - When there are criticisms with false information and involving illegal behavior, sometimes the best way is to attack the attackers. Just make sure you have strong evidence to back you up and be sure that it won’t backfired and destroy your reputation.