Businesses and entrepreneurs are evolving with each passing year, along with Google and the way people search for things. In recent years, e-commerce and online reputation management have become essential for any brand’s success. Since your sales online are inexplicably linked to your brand’s reputation, there’s an increasing need to manage and control the perception customers have.
What’s Online Reputation Management?
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the ongoing process of molding and swaying the perception that a business, brand, or individual receives through a variety of online channels. Companies use various methods, best practices, and tactics to keep an eye on what customers are saying about their brand. They use this data to respond to criticism, like user reviews, that may impact their business. The primary objective of an ORM is to resolve any problems with your standing on review websites, social media, and Google searches.
Does it Really Matter?
With over 4.2 billion active internet users and 3.4 billion on social media, actively controlling one’s online reputation is vital. Research shows that Gen-Z, the largest sector of online shoppers, pays close attention to a business before they buy something. They look up products, people, business practices, and user reviews. A proactive online presence lets you control the way your business is presented online. This directly impacts audience perception and sales. It’s impossible to regulate what others post online, but you can control the way that you respond.
Here are a few best practices for your online reputation management.
- Register Your Domain Name
There are over 1.5 billion websites across the world wide web and the number is increasing exponentially. The chances that someone in the world, for whatever reason, registers your company name for themselves are higher than you might think. Once registered by someone else, it can be both difficult and expensive to get a name for yourself.
Even if you aren’t planning to build a website right now, it’s a good idea to have it under your belt. The ‘.com’ is the best-ranked domain extension in the world and it should be your first choice upon registration. However, if the ‘.com’ domain is taken, options like ‘.org’ or ‘.net’ are your next best options.
- Prioritize the User
The last thing you want to do is develop a reputation for an unusable website. The UX design, or the user experience, should be high on your list of priorities. Use website tracking and data analytics to pinpoint roadblocks on your website and fix them. Once you’re sure your website is user-friendly, turn toward your content.
Your posts should be informative, sociable, and easy to understand. It’s not good enough for your posts just to be famous, they also need to be educational. Google created the EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) rule for you to gauge the quality of your web page. Google is looking for pages that offer true, expert advice for the top spots on their results page so you should keep the acronym in mind.
If all else fails, keep in mind that Google gives great importance to user-friendliness when it comes to search rankings. Your history of providing educational content that’s being searched for as well as the accessibility of your content influence your ranking. In recent years, mobile-friendly websites have become increasingly popular with Google. It’s worth the effort to optimize your website for both mobile and desktop.
- Optimize Images for the Web
A well-rounded reputation management strategy doesn’t just focus on written content. Information is available online in a wide variety of ways, with pictures and videos being the most accessible format. You need to have a diversified network of content distribution that utilizes artwork, pictures, and infographics.
Just like you should invest in high-quality research, you shouldn’t skimp on high-quality images. They increase the value of your site and attract more users, especially since Google uses content quality to rank searches. In some cases, the first contact a user has with your brand is an image they see on a forum. Google often puts top images on the first page of search results, as well as in featured snippets. An image that grabs the user’s attention is almost as good as your website topping the search results.
There are two major reasons you should have a regular schedule for social media posts. First of all, search engines and social media algorithms reward consistency and regularity. The more high-quality posts you make, the more you’ll be pushed into people’s feeds. Secondly, it helps you stay relevant in the users’ eyes. You can add hyperlinks to your website and social media account from within the blog to direct traffic.
Blogging regularly is one of the best ways to improve your reputation online. Use platforms like Blogger, Medium, and Tumblr to post articles on relevant topics. Try to set up a schedule for your posts so your followers know when to come back for more. However, don’t post too many blogs at the same time. It can overwhelm your audience and decrease engagement. Depending on your specific situation, 1-2 blogs per week are good for both users and Google.
- Diversify your content
Your strategy is extremely interconnected. Good SEO practices land you higher in the search rankings, which helps you build a reliable reputation. However, you need to maintain this reputation with your content. It won’t matter even if you’re the first search result on Google if your content isn’t resourceful, engaging, and educational.
To stand out from the crowd and develop high-authority sites, create unique, relevant, and interesting content. A common mistake companies make is using the same introduction or bio for all their platforms. This is a wasted opportunity: different social media platforms have audiences that appreciate different styles. Publishing the same content on all your pages will bore your readers. It can also lead to your sites being flagged for duplicate content.
Each site, blog, or platform your customers visit should offer a unique experience. They can have similar themes, topics, and headings, but the content itself should be different. Diversify your brand by using short videos, pictures, graphs, and guides alongside your written content. There’s nothing wrong with repurposing content if you aren’t copying it word-for-word. Fresh content typically has a better chance of rising to the top of search engines so try to make it seem as new as possible.
- Avoid Fake News
A peddler of fake news may have the most damning reputation you can build online. All it takes is one poorly researched link or factual error to turn users off of your website. It’s not just a matter of principle. If customers stop seeing you as a reliable source of information, they won’t take any of your future posts seriously.
The only solution to avoiding fake news is to double- and triple-check your sources and your posts. On the other hand, there’s a fine line between lying and clickbait, but both frustrate users. Try to ride the line between the two to maximize engagement, but never deceive the user just for an extra click.
- Create Your Press Release
If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Don’t wait for newspapers and blogs to cover company news; reach out to them yourself. Having other sources for most of your content or reviews establishes you as an industry leader. By scheduling your press release, you can control what the blogs post to some degree. It gets your name and your content out to the public. When building an online reputation, the more ways you can have your name in a positive spotlight, the better.
- Create listings for review websites
Engaging with your customers and listening to their feedback is essential when it comes to building a positive brand reputation. However, before you can do that, you need to create a listing where customers can leave reviews. Look up websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Angieslist, and Google My Business and register for each one that’s relevant to your brand. Engage with the reviews regularly and users will appreciate your customer service.
You shouldn’t neglect social media reviews, either. They’re a bit more challenging to keep track of because they aren’t centralized like a listing website. However, you can still search for your name and brand to see what people are saying. Respond to negative reviews without insulting the customer, no matter the complaint. You can use different automated tools for quick replies on social media, but make sure you get back to people in person.
- Professional Networking
If your competitors respect you, then your customers are likely to do the same. Having good reviews and a good professional standing does wonders for your credibility. Building a network isn’t just good for your company’s reputation, it also helps you build useful connections. Partnerships between complementary companies, even competitors, can help your brand build credibility. You can establish yourself in the industry by:
- Getting as many certifications as possible in your field
- Attending seminars and conferences for your industry
- Hosting seminars and conferences for your industry
- Having employees and management attend podcasts, local TV channels, and other platforms
10. Collect Contents and Use Them
The best way to build and sustain a relationship with a customer is to have them on your mailing list. Include a ‘contact’ page in strategic positions on your website that also lets users send you messages directly. Simply having this option increases your credibility because you’re inviting criticism. Once you have a list of emails, you can directly send links to the content that you upload. You can use AI tools to personalize your communication and recommendations to make the customer feel special. Having a solid relationship with existing customers is the first step to inviting new ones because satisfied consumers are likely to recommend you.
These practices are only a kick-off point for online reputation management. You can also take advantage of influencer marketing, sponsoring research, and guest blogging. The ideal strategy for you needs to be personalized for your business. However, use the ten best practices highlighted above to get started.
Ready to shape your online narrative? Reach out to us for a personal touch on your digital journey.