A staggering 90 percent of consumers find businesses via internet searches, according to BrightLocal—which means your digital reputation has never been more important.
Digital reputation management (also called online reputation management or ORM) is the process of creating a positive online perception of an organization or business leader.
It’s more than just carefully curating your website or social media profiles (but that is a part of it). It’s also the process of monitoring any brand mentions throughout the web, ensuring a consistent brand voice, being active in relevant industry conversations and creating value-driven guest content. So when you ask, “What is reputation management?” it’s essentially ensuring that if anyone were to Google you or your business, they’d be left with a positive impression.
(Note that brand can refer to your business as a whole, or you as a C-suite leader, thought leader, entrepreneur or solopreneur).
The three following tactics will help build your digital reputation and optimize your brand presence.
Conduct a Reputation Audit
First things first: understand what your audience can find about your brand with a reputation audit. Follow these steps:
- Start with a quick Google search: what comes up other than your website and social profiles? Put a Google alert on your brand name to monitor future mentions.
- Check on social media: search for any tagged posts, branded hashtags or reviews. You can also simply use the search function on platforms like Facebook or Twitter to see where your brand pops up. What conversations are you a part of?
- Analyzing customer or client relationships: how do existing customers or clients interact with your business? Do you have testimonials or reviews to look back on? What feedback do you and your team receive?
- Research the competition: while you’re in research-mode, check out what your competitors are doing in your space. Also look at top market leaders in your industry. This will help you identify areas where you can improve.
A thorough brand audit helps you establish what your target audience and the general public thinks of your brand. Moreover, you can see the areas where you need to improve your brand perception or simply build more brand awareness.
10x Top Tip: Reputations can change in a split second. Check your social media mentions and Google rankings regularly and plan to formally audit your brand’s reputation three to four times a year.
Optimize Your Content
Think about the last time you did business with someone—did you Google them first? Chances are, you did plenty of research before you contacted them.
When it comes to online reputation management, content is still king. Why? What people read about you directly informs their opinion so the content that you produce matters. The best content serves two distinct purposes:
- It’s valuable to your target audience: solves a problem that your customers/clients have or offers a new perspective on your industry.
- It improves your Google ranking: uses keywords that you want your website to rank for, and other SEO tactics, with a strong backlink profile.
To take it a step further, top thought leaders and businesses also guest-post on authoritative websites or publications to raise their industry profile. Build a content calendar to ensure you have a healthy mix of SEO-optimized on-site content as well as guest posts.
10x Top Tip: Content is your chance to get ahead of negative comments and to shout about what you’re good at. Use your content to highlight your brand values, expertise and the unique attributes that make you stand out from the crowd.
Focus on Online Reviews
Did you know that 76 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations? Recent research from BrightLocal supports the idea that reviews are a double-edged sword. While positive reviews build customer or client trust and improve your visibility on search engines, negative reviews can be catastrophic. Only 53 percent of people would consider using a business with less than four stars.
If you Googled your business and found lackluster results, don’t panic. Use these tips from Search Engine Journal to combat those negative reviews:
- Respond quickly, thoughtfully and honestly.
- Focus on how you’re going to fix the situation instead of making excuses (remember most explanations still sound like excuses).
- Ask the customer for their contact information and reach out directly.
- Do your best to go above and beyond to fix the problem.
Once you’ve dealt with those negative reviews, focus on building positive buzz about your brand. Adding positive reviews (in essence, additional content to push those negative reviews down the website or search engine’s page) is a great way to improve your reputation.
10x Top Tip: Those most likely to leave reviews are people who have had an extremely positive (or extremely negative) experience with your company. Keeping customer or client experience at the top of your list can help ensure more feedback. Additionally, don’t be afraid to reach out to long-standing customers or clients and ask for a testimonial or review.
Build Your Brand’s Digital Reputation
Remember, your audience has more ways than ever to interact with your brand—and in turn, more chances to form an opinion. Digital reputation management is an on-going discipline that starts with awareness and research and continues with content-creation and diligence. When done correctly, a successful brand presence can position you and your business as a leader in your industry, plus drive ROI, revenue and growth for years to come.
Are you interested in bolstering your brand’s online reputation? We can help. Our team of experts have worked with organizations and business leaders worldwide to build digital reputations and combat negative press through our ORM services.
Get in touch today for a complimentary website audit and assessment.