Reputation Management

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Reputation Management


As a business, your reputation can make or break you. Everyone has known this as long as business has been, well, in business. With the ever-increasing power of the Internet, your reputation has more momentum than ever. Customers love to rave about their favorite new brand or service, but people love complaining about things even more. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a large online presence and don’t know how to manage your online reputation, only the bad parts will be visible to potential clients.

It is important to understand all the different platforms that can affect your reputation online, how to mitigate problems and how to provide a more positive online presence by encouraging your satisfied clients to share their experiences. When you get a bad review, you probably shift between being angry and disappointed, and maybe even stressed out. Don’t let a few bad reviews ruin your business; learn how to manage your reputation properly so you can get a better handle on the situation.

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How Bad Reviews Can Affect SEO

Did your business have growing pains involving poorly satisfied customers? Was there a scandal and you were unfortunately in the blast radius? Do you have a lot of satisfied clients who just don't use the Internet to boast about how great you are? When you only have "negative information" concerning you or your company available on search engines, that is all people will find.

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How to Handle False Reviews and Competition

There is another, nastier side to online business reputations. If you've ever used Yelp, you may be familiar with the practice many businesses have adopted: Leaving bad reviews on competitors' websites or pages. Sometimes, they even create false profiles and leave false positive reviews for themselves. This leads to a generally ugly "Internet warfare" between competing businesses and leaves the customer feeling like they really can't trust anything they read.

Tips to Optimize Your Online Reputation


Going into crisis mode whenever someone leaves a bad review or your company receives bad press may seem like the only way to operate. However, there are a few key things you can do to optimize what people see about you or your company online to prevent entering this stressful stage of online reputation management.

Reputation Management

Google Yourself

The first step, as any teenager hoping their parents don't find their social media accounts will tell you, is to Google yourself. Use whichever search engine you prefer, and type in either your name, your business name or both. See what pops up, and if there is something you don't want a potential customer to see, find ways to remove it or make it private.

Reputation Management

Boost Your Online Presence

Once you've figured out your personal social media, it is also a good idea to boost your visibility by creating social media for your business. This means Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, and any other social platform technology dreams up in the future.

Reputation Management

SEO Strength Training

If you're concerned about possible news posts or keywords often correlated to your name, like, "reviews," "scandal" or "gossip," the best method is to insert new, positive SEO into search engine sitemaps. Many politicians and celebrities are famous for using this method to essentially drown out the Internet search pages that show their previous transgressions.

Reputation Management

Get Good Reviews

One of the best ways to manage your reputation is to have people provide you with enough feedback and referrals in a visible way. If you have a lot of great customers, make sure they're aware of your social platforms so they know they can submit a review for you online. Let these happy customers know that you'd love their return business, and would also love it if they left feedback on your website, a good Google review, a Facebook comment, a LinkedIn review or another way you want to get the word out.

Reputation Management

Be Aware and Act Fast

Many small businesses are not exactly website development professionals and hardly know what SEO stands for, let alone what it does. As much as you can, educate yourself and make sure you understand where your search engine ranking stands. Also, be familiar with all of the platforms you can utilize to promote yourself or your business, and keep an eye on them. The more aware you are of your online presence, the easier it is to maintain and manage it.

Perfection is Not Ideal


Finally, keep in mind that no business has ever had a 100 percent customer satisfaction rate. No matter how hard you try, you will always manage to upset someone at some point. While this may be stressful, and may make you feel like nobody is ever going to use your services again, the reality is that no customer would believe a perfect track record. In the age of the Internet, “too good to be true” companies are overlooked because everyone knows there is no such thing as perfect. Instead of aiming for perfection, aim for doing the best you can by your business and by your customers, and your reputation will nearly be able to manage itself.

How Bad Reviews Can Affect SEO

Did your business have growing pains involving poorly satisfied customers? Was there a scandal and you were unfortunately in the blast radius? Do you have a lot of satisfied clients who just don't use the Internet to boast about how great you are? When you only have "negative information" concerning you or your company available on search engines, that is all people will find.

You also can't just place information on a website and hope people find it. Because there isn't much information out there, the only keywords you have linked to your information are your name, your company name and maybe a few others that don't get many hits. If you want to boost your SEO, you need more, fresh content, and you need better content.

When you have older content on your website or blog, and then you insert new content onto a search engine's sitemap, the older content gets pushed to other pages in the search engine results page (SERP), which means people are much less likely to see them. If you don't flood the Internet with good, positive content to wash out the negative reviews or stories, your SEO and SERP positions will dramatically decrease, and you will not experience growth. It is best to create keywords and provide search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo with a sitemap (a text document of your site and its contents) so that they can archive your information connected to those keywords. This ideally means that those keywords will be linked to your content, which boosts your positive search results.

How to Handle False Reviews and Competition

There is another, nastier side to online business reputations. If you've ever used Yelp, you may be familiar with the practice many businesses have adopted: Leaving bad reviews on competitors' websites or pages. Sometimes, they even create false profiles and leave false positive reviews for themselves. This leads to a generally ugly "Internet warfare" between competing businesses and leaves the customer feeling like they really can't trust anything they read.

The good news is that many review sites and website platform companies can trace specific comments back to the source, and if that source is not a legitimate person or entity, but rather a front, the comments can be deleted from your record. However, some sites (like Facebook, Google Reviews and others) do not have in-depth information on people who leave comments and reviews. Some sites even allow anonymous comments, which can lead to a lot of negative reviews from people who have never even met you or used your business. To handle this, the best way is (like your mother always told you) to take the high road. Communicate with the host site, or remove spam comments if it is your personal website and you can control such things. If the host site deems it spam or a fake account, you can gain back your good reputation. However, if that's not possible, you can respond to the review, or reach out to the reviewer and ask for their name, the dates of sale/proof of purchase/receipt for transactions, and let them know that you will do whatever you can to remedy their poor experience. Not only will this flush out false reviewers, but also future customers who are looking at these will see that you attempted to reach out and improve the user's experience.

When you find a legitimate customer who had a bad experience, make every reasonable attempt to right the situation without hurting your bottom line. Many people leave bad reviews because "the squeaky wheel gets the grease," and often only seek refunds or bonus items for their troubles. Use your judgment, and aim to provide a positive experience for each new customer so that when you are left with a bad review, it is most likely not true. If you're concerned that another company in competition with your own is leaving the bad reviews, do not play dirty. Improve your business, and focus on what you can control. Your customers will see that you're doing honest work and will reward you accordingly.

Google Yourself

The first step, as any teenager hoping their parents don't find their social media accounts will tell you, is to Google yourself. Use whichever search engine you prefer, and type in either your name, your business name or both. See what pops up, and if there is something you don't want a potential customer to see, find ways to remove it or make it private. The most obvious "embarrassing" search point is social media. If you're an entrepreneur hoping to find investors, or a new business hoping to find clients, but you have old college photos on Facebook showing you doing a keg stand, you're going to seem a lot less reliable. Unfortunately, with the Internet, those memories don't fade away with the hangover; they're online permanently. For this, you can either delete your social media accounts, or change the privacy settings so that those questionable tweets and memes don't show up on your public wall or feed.

Boost Your Online Presence

Once you've figured out your personal social media, it is also a good idea to boost your visibility by creating social media for your business. This means Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, and any other social platform technology dreams up in the future. While you may be overwhelmed by all the different accounts, there are some "control panel" sites that let you post one thing and it will be updated to all of your social media accounts, saving you a lot of time and memory space (for all those logins and passwords). Many people also change their personal accounts to different names from their professional accounts (like nicknames or pseudonyms) so that they can still maintain a personal account to stay in touch with friends and family while not worrying about how it influences their professional reputation. Decide what is easiest for you, but know that increasing your business's presence on social media is one of the best ways to get your name out there and increase your visibility.

SEO Strength Training

If you're concerned about possible news posts or keywords often correlated to your name, like, "reviews," "scandal" or "gossip," the best method is to insert new, positive SEO into search engine sitemaps. Many politicians and celebrities are famous for using this method to essentially drown out the Internet search pages that show their previous transgressions.

Hopefully, you have nothing quite as controversial to cover up, but if you want to ensure that people only find what is most relevant to you or your company today, then you need to flex your SEO muscles. Create a website or a blog related to what you're doing with your business, or buy the domain associated with your personal name or business name. This means that when people search for you directly, the first thing that will pop up is that specific domain. When you buy this domain, or build a website or blog, make sure only to fill it with content that is directly related to you or your company, and keep it professional. Keep going with your SEO strength training, and get a keyword analysis (free on most search engines) to see which keywords you should focus on to get the most positive traffic. When your content is full of "white hat" SEO, meaning good content directly related to the keywords, your new content will climb to the top of the SERP, pushing outdated information to the back of the results pages.

Get Good Reviews

One of the best ways to manage your reputation is to have people provide you with enough feedback and referrals in a visible way. If you have a lot of great customers, make sure they're aware of your social platforms so they know they can submit a review for you online. Let these happy customers know that you'd love their return business, and would also love it if they left feedback on your website, a good Google review, a Facebook comment, a LinkedIn review or another way you want to get the word out. Many companies also provide discounts on future business for customers who refer, review or directly connect businesses to new customers. If this makes sense for your business from a financial standpoint, it can be incredibly effective. Essentially, the more you provide great service and encourage people to share the word, the better your online reputation will be. When you have great customers and aim to please them, you won't have to do a lot of work to manage your online presence.

Be Aware and Act Fast

Many small businesses are not exactly website development professionals and hardly know what SEO stands for, let alone what it does. As much as you can, educate yourself and make sure you understand where your search engine ranking stands. Also, be familiar with all of the platforms you can utilize to promote yourself or your business, and keep an eye on them. The more aware you are of your online presence, the easier it is to maintain and manage it. You will get used to updating your social media, or adding content with SEO keywords to your websites, and you will have a better overall picture of how things are going for your business online. You will also be able to better catch "red flags," and remedy them faster if you're more vigilant. You can't just put a website or a Facebook page up and hope everything goes well. You have to be willing to update and contribute to your online presence (or pay someone else to do it for you) so you can have the best reputation possible.

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