Knowing how to create a good product or deliver an excellent service isn’t good enough nowadays. Your online reputation needs to reflect that image as well. We are living in a digital world where potential customers can find everything about your business online; the good, but also bad reviews or comments. . The key is to push up positive results and push down the negative ones on Google and other major search engines. It sounds simple, but it can be difficult. Want to know how to successfully manage your online reputation? Then keep reading for some useful tips and best practices.

First Things First

Start with a search on what’s being said about your brand. It is important to know what key words are related to your business. Once you have the right keywords to focus on, you can apply these to search engines and various social media channels. This will help you understand what people say about your brand. Remember, unlike ten years ago, information that people can find about your brand is no longer controlled by just you.

TIP: There are numerous tools to help you to monitor your social media pages. Hastagify.me, Tagboard, SocialMention and TweetBinder are some good examples of tools that will help monitor your online reputation. Google Alerts is another free tool for receiving notifications in case someone mentions your brand or a brand related keyword online.

Why does this matter? Well, considering the fact that 70% of people trust online reviews, 80% do online research before they make purchase decisions and that 90% don’t look past the first page results of Google, we can definitely conclude that it matters a lot. When people read information about your company, it better be good.

How to Manage Your Online Reputation on Social Media

We confirmed the importance of managing your online reputation, but how do we put that into practice? Let’s start with social media. Here are four steps to manage your online reputation on social media channels:

1. Create a clear plan of action.
A clear plan will help your employees to respond quickly and appropriately in case of a negative comment.

2. Respond quickly.
Let your customer know you care about their feedback. It is better to promptly reply with a “we are aware of the problem and are working on a solution” than replying later that week with more detailed information about the problem. Furthermore, complaints that are ignored can spread like wildfire. Responding quickly is the best way to prevent any reputation damage.

3. Don’t delete negative comments.
This will most likely make people angrier and it doesn’t solve the problem. Instead of deleting negative comments, start a dialogue. Research by CRM software company RightNow shows that one out of three consumers who receive a reply on their complaint end up writing a positive review, on top of that 34% will delete their negative comment. Only if someone is behaving really inappropriately should you delete the comment.

4. Own up to mistakes
It is always best to come up with a solution for any problem that arises. Apologize to your customer and tell them how you will solve the issue. If someone is out there just to spread negativity, consider deleting the comment and blocking the user.

Online Reputation Management, Google and Search Engines

Now you know how to manage your business on social media but, there is another way for customers to find bad reviews and articles on a company. Even though you won’t have direct control over which search results appear, there are ways to influence search results when someone is doing a search on your brand. Take a look at what you can do:

1. Just ask
When there is negative information published about your company by a website, consider contacting the owner of the website directly. Explain the situation and ask whether it could be deleted. Webmasters aren’t very keen on removing content just because you asked but it is worth a try.

2. Improve your social media presence
Social media profiles have a very large influence on branded search results for the first page of Google. Google+, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn are the best ways to push negative search results from the first page. You stand a good chance by linking as many relevant social media pages as possible to your company website, completing the company profiles thoroughly with business info and by regularly posting content on these pages.

3. Post high quality content frequently
High quality content is able to outrank negative reviews or web content /articles that you don’t want viewed by your customers.

4. Start blogging
Blogging tremendously helps a site’s ranking if you know how to use the right keywords. Leaving posts or articles on guest blogs are also proven to be useful for creating positive content about your brand on the web. Author profiles that mention your brand have a very good chance of being ranked on the first page of search results. Here is an article that elaborates on the importance of blogging.

5. Register to various local business directories
Another way to improve your search engine ankings is to register on local business directories. Yelp, Crunchbase and Yellow Pages are very good platforms to consider for your business. TIP: Use Yext to register to all relevant high quality business directories.

Even when you can’t fully control what is being said about you or your brand , it is important to know there are specific and proven strategies to manage your online reputation. Try implementing the ideas outlined above. If done properly and consistently, you will be rewarded with an impeccable online reputation.

About iRISEmedia

iRISEmedia.com is a Toronto based digital marketing agency and SEO company, specializing in Social Media and Internet marketing. Our team helps clients increase their reach and profitability by developing and implementing customized and targeted online and Social Media marketing strategies. We service clients in Toronto, Ontario, the GTA and throughout Canada as well as globally.