The Internet provides consumers with powerful resources to use in order to research companies before deciding to do business with them. Before buying a product, one of the first things that many consumers now do is to check Google to see what their peers may be saying about this business or product. If a user sees anything negative, he or she may have second thoughts about making the purchase.
In other words, online reputation now has now become one of the biggest decision-making factors in the purchasing funnel. If your business has a poor online reputation, you may be losing customers before they even get to your page. Your online reputation is now every bit as important as your word-of-mouth promotion. Some consumers may exclusively look online to make a judgement about a company or product's level of quality and reliability.
Blogs and reviews allow consumers to inform others and to recommend products. Neither of those things is bad; however, they also offer consumers a great deal of power. If someone wants to damage a company's image, the Internet offers a variety of ways to do it. Anyone from a spiteful former employee to a competitor can do significant damage to a business's reputation.
Why is Online Reputation Management So Important?
In the modern business landscape, people source goods and services using the Internet. Companies also use it to conduct background checks before hiring workers. The information found online will help to inform the first impression of an individual or of a brand. It is therefore essential that this information be positive. That is where online reputation management (ORM) comes in.
The need for reputation management on the internet should not be underestimated. Companies can lose millions of dollars per year in sales because of negative comments that show up on the first results page of a Google search. If business or individual does not take steps to protect their online reputation, they could find that the most visible online references to their brand reflect poorly on it.
5 Steps to Improve Your Online Reputation
1. Understand that Negative Content is Unavoidable If you are in business for long enough, at some point there will be negative content about your brand posted on the Internet. It may come from a customer who was impossible to please, or from someone who just had a poor experience. No matter how good your customer service typically is, you will have to defend your reputation eventually.
Many businesses wait for the negative information to show up before taking action. This is a tactic that often backfires. Whether your business is established or relatively new, you should be actively influencing how your business is seen online. This is important even if your reputation is presently a good one.
2. Choose Your ORM Solution The options for improving a company's online reputation are to handle it in-house or to outsource it to a reputation management firm. Whichever is chosen, it is important to understand that online reputation management is not an easy task and most companies will not have the experience or resources to handle it themselves. If it is outsourced, it is important to make sure that the firm hired to do the job does it in the right way. This includes avoiding any of the tactics that Google frowns upon.
3. Discover the Cause of Any Negative Comments Find out what the complaints are and whether they are legitimate. If there really is a problem, then steps should be taken to resolve it. Once the problem is fixed, it is time to move on to reputation management.
4. Respond to All Comments Whether positive or negative, all comments should receive a response. While customers often feel motivated to spread word of a good experience, they are often highly motivated to share the bad ones. Ignoring their comments can do tremendous damage to your reputation. Not responding to online comments may be just as damaging as not responding to emails or phone calls.
5. Build a Good Reputation ORM is similar to search engine optimization in that the results will not be immediately visible. However, with patience it is possible to minimize the visibility of negative content and replace it with positive content. One way to do this is to provide helpful, informative content to customers. This allows a company to be viewed as an authority in its field.
In today's reputation-focused world, it is important for a company to do everything it can to protect its brand on the Internet. This includes brand-monitoring and handling issues the right way. The other options a company has include public relations campaigns and developing a stronger social media presence.