Do you know how your online profile looks right now?
Meaning, if someone searches for you by name or for your company, do you know what they’ll find in the search engines?
Many business owners, especially small business owners that have built up their brand using traditional offline marketing methods (word of mouth referrals, the Yellow Pages, direct mail etc), don’t have a clue and they don’t care.
They see the Internet as a distraction and because they’re already thriving in their business, they don’t see the value in it.
Are You Burying Your Head In The Sand?
Ignoring the Internet is the equivalent of burying your head in the sand.
Sooner or later a time will come when their position as top dog in their industry will slip. The bubble will burst and they’ll be wondering what on earth happened.
The Internet has been a game changer for every single industry and that’s why it’s so important to keep on top of what other people are saying about you.
Everyone Brags But People Don’t Care
Every company likes to brag about how good they are – how long they’ve been in business, how trustworthy they are, how exceptional their customer service is and so on. People are immune to that.
Before a new customer does business with you, they’ll want to check your reviews. Do others talk about you in a glowing manner or are your reviews mostly negative?
Keeping on top of what others say about you is referred to as online reputation management (ORM).
It’s not just politicians, celebrities and big brands that need to keep on top of their reputation. Every single individual that cares about their profile or their business needs to actively manage it.
Looking after your reputation means knowing how to repair, control and monitor whenever you or your business are mentioned online.
Unlike traditional forms of advertising, online reputation management isn’t something that you can take care of with paid marketing.
Why Paid Marketing Won’t Work For Your Reputation
Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and other forms of pay per click marketing won’t shift a negative review about you down the first page of the search results.
If you’re suffering with a negative review on the first page of Google and you want that result pushed down, then you need to have a solid understanding of how SEO works.
Or you could outsource it to a company that specialises in reputation repair but the likelihood is that you’ll be charged a hefty fee for the privilege.
Online reputation management firms do not come cheap and for good reason: there is a huge amount of work required in burying negative results onto page 2 and beyond of Google.
Here’s a few tips to help you get started:
1. Create A Profile On Multiple Social Media Properties
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube all have high domain authority and rank well in Google.
2. Secure Your Own Domain Name
Whether it’s for your personal name or business. If it’s for your business then you may want to consider getting a Google My Business page listing. This will put you in the ‘7 pack’ maps and help immune your website from future algorithm updates by getting featured in the local listings.
3. Use Google Alerts
Receive an alert by email every time Google crawls and indexes a new page on the Internet that references you or your business. If you’re carrying out reputation management for multiple clients then it’ll make your life easier to use software tools like Trackur. This will allow you to actively monitor when a blog or a social network mentions your client’s name.
4. Promptly Respond On Social Media
Particularly to anyone that refers to you on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Social media is about meeting your customers where they hang out. By taking a pro-active on social media, for example by quickly responding to your customers’ questions and complaints, you can build up a lot of good will.
5. Check Your Business Reviews
Look on the top review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Rip Off Report and Consumer Reports. These sites are regularly crawled by Google and if someone posts a review there, it’s likely to show up high in the organic search results for your business name.
If you have a Google My Business page then your reviews on these sites will also get pulled into your review rating for the maps ‘7 pack’.
6. Build A Blog
Do this on your own website and post regularly onto it. The more content you post, the more pages that Google will crawl and index.
The Benefits Of Building A Blog:
i) Each page is an opportunity to secure social shares and backlinks, assuming that your content is relevant for your target audience. The more social shares and backlinks that your site acquires, the more your site’s authority will build.
ii) As your domain starts to age, you’ll find it easier to rank for keywords if your site has authority, compared to putting content on a brand new website.
iii) A blog is your opportunity to share your message to the world without being restricted by the rules that sites like Tumblr or Squidoo impose.
You can share podcasts, Skype or Google Hangout interviews with other industry experts in your niche on your blog and help to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry in the process.
Effective online reputation management is about taking a pro-active stance.
It’s impossible to keep everyone happy in business but if you build up enough good will, your customers will overlook the odd negative review as long as the majority of your reviews are positive.