The internet provides fantastic opportunities to share knowledge and experience but in doing that it also invites views and opinions which may not always be to your advantage. Whether it’s a disgruntled customer, a vengeful ex-employee or jealous competitors, it is incredibly easy for an online reputation to be at best sullied and at worse destroyed.
But there is an opportunity to fix these difficult situations, and this comes through online reputation repair. Then to prevent a crisis happening, to begin with, the services of a professional online reputation service. This proactive approach means that you get to take control of the brand, company and personal reputations removing the need to spend time on problem reviews and to repair negative search results.
Just think for a moment what a person does when they want to see reviews about a company or its products. The chances are that they turn to Google or one of the other search engines. And there for everyone to see is all the information relating to your search which includes decades of reviews, content and indications of your online personal or business reputation.
Then we tend to focus on the negatives, the washing machine that caught fire, the review of a disastrous holiday and the restaurant induced food poisoning. Now there is doubt in their mind, which results in their returning to the search results to check out other companies whose online reputation may appear to be more positive.
It’s doubtful that even a successful business or brand will be able to avoid a negative review here and there. Customers’ expectations can be unrealistic, and mistakes do happen. Before the world wide web, those negative reviews would be shared between friends and family and might catch the eye of the local newspaper. But it wouldn’t then be long until the conversations were forgotten, and the paper was being used to wrap a portion of fish and chips. Reputation repair was the reserve of celebrities and politicians.
The Challenges of Online Reputation Management
The online world has changed all that, now through Google, you can check out the negative reviews from years ago with the search results giving you all the gory details at the click of a button. Mistakes made decades before can come back and haunt you. Whether it’s a faulty product launch long since replaced by a new model or a complaint that escalated out of all proportion, they all have the potential to create a negative search result.
Unless you have a repair strategy in place to make sure that your online presence reflects your personal, brand and business reputation in the best way possible, then those negative reviews will keep on causing damaging.
Online Reputation Repair
So, it’s happened. Today you checked your business on different search engines, and there on the first page of Google is a negative review. Now, Google takes no consideration as to whether the detail on a page is correct or not when they present the search result. Even if there is the potential for completely unjustifiable damage to your online reputation, that information will keep being delivered within negative search results until you manage to fix the situation.
That then means that professional online reputation repair is needed. This will help turnaround the situation, prevent any growth in the negative reputation and look to have negative reviews and results removed.
The Online Reputation Management Company
This is when the skill, experience and knowledge of an online reputation management company can make all the difference. Online reputation repair is an excellent way to get a positive reputation that you and your business or brand deserve and to push that negative content and bad reviews deeper within the search results.
Now, the repair strategy used to fix the problem takes into account the people involved, the size of the company and the strength of the brand. But, with professional help, it won’t be long before those negative online reviews stop being the primary focus of Google or any other search engine.
It’s likely that the online reputation repair company will use a combination of techniques to help in the repair process, but they may include one or more of the following strategies.
When you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a reputational crisis, you first need to research information on how to turn the situation around and then build a plan. This then means lengthy delays in enabling you to control the negative situation. And while you carry out your planning to repair the problem, the likes and shares will start to grow, today and the next day and every day until you manage to improve the situation.
The reality is that however well your business or brand is doing, at some point there will be some negative reviews requiring you to improve your online reputation. Having a plan in place ready to fix the situation will have a significant role in damage limitation and protecting your online reputation. Take a look at our next section within this article for more information on a proactive approach to help online reputation management.
Apologise When Appropriate.
How often have you heard people say, ‘they never even said sorry’? When you start to acknowledge a problem with the service provided and you provide resolutions, it shows others that you take your responsibilities seriously. An apology also shows potential customers that even when things do go wrong, you do you very best to resolve the situation and repair goodwill. In turn, this will start to improve and build your online reputation.
Make Sure You Respond Online
Do make sure that responses are made online where everyone can see that you are addressing the issue. This has the added benefit of your response being accessible to search engine results along with the review, which will let both sides of the story be seen.
Balance With Positives
Most people are realistic enough to know that things will go wrong from time to time. So, if positive online reviews and news stories form the bulk of your online reputation, then you’re likely to be excused the occasional mistake or a few bad reviews without needing to repair your online reputation. As we mentioned previously, this is, even more, the case when the situation has been publicly acknowledged and resolved.
When you’re in a crisis situation, the online reputation repair strategy may focus on drowning out the negative online content with positive material; this then helps to ensure that there is a much lower proportion of bad reviews. In turn, this starts the process of Google and other search engines returning your internet reputation to where it needs to be.
When the negative online content is so inflammatory that the damage it’s causing to your business or brand cannot be controlled, then you need to let a reputation management company take action on your behalf to get negative search content removed.
Starting with the person who posted the libellous content, a request will be made for the content to be removed to let them resolve the situation. If results aren’t achieved at this point, then the request will be escalated to the owner of the website, and then finally the company who provides the hosting service. With the threat of legal action, it’s highly likely that someone takes the information down.
What Content Management Isn’t
Now we should be clear here, content removal isn’t about getting rid of those negative reviews from customers who didn’t like your offering purely to repair the online reputation of your brand. The whole purpose of a review site is to provide consumers with the opportunity to share their experiences, good or bad. However, if there is potential for a person to post a review which is untrue, malicious or has breached the site guidelines, then that’s a different situation. Seeking the assistance of reputation repair services to have those removed should be a priority.
It’s not unusual for requests for content removal to be ignored until an expert in online reputation repair takes control of the situation. Their knowledge of the law in this area can ensure that when negative content and online reviews fail to meet appropriate standards, then they are promptly removed from the website and search results. Then you can get on with the work required to repair your online reputation.
Online Reputation Management
Taking a proactive approach to online reputation management can help you to avoid both negative content and reviews which then result in a negative search result. Finding yourself in a reputation crisis can take up a considerable amount of your time, and it can result in immense stress and worry while you try to repair the situation. It can also, in a business or brand situation, distract you from the process of running your business effectively.
Online reputation management provides a number of services to protect how you, your business or your brand are portrayed. The same as with the repair of your internet reputation, there are several strategies that can be taken to help ensure that you, your brand or your business is presented in a positive image.
Broadening Your Internet Presence
It’s not enough to simply have a website. Customers like a business to be accessible on social media and to provide a range of content to help them understand the company brand, ethics and product range. Companies who effectively invest in this depth of online presence find that they can achieve the coveted Google first page while also pushing their competitors so deep into the search results that they don’t catch the eye of the online customer.
You should be aware, however, that not all content is of equal value to the outcome of search results. So, this then means that research is needed to understand where the focus needs to be placed and how the greatest value can be achieved through the publication of positive content.
One additional benefit of working on your internet presence now is that should there be negative content or online reviews published, they will need to battle through all the positive content already in place to be seen in the search results.
Managing Social Media Accounts
It’s one thing to set-up accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, but it’s quite another thing to take the time to run them effectively. That means presenting the correct image, ensuring you get that valuable ‘like’.
The Right Message for the Right Platform
Then you need to consider that your audience on Facebook may be quite different from that on LinkedIn, then Pinterest may need a different type of image compared to Instagram. When your social media posting doesn’t meet the needs of your audience then at best, it will have little influence, and at worst it may have a negative effect.
Expectations for rapid responses to messages and questions posted to your feed can be challenging to meet, especially for a smaller business without dedicated staff to manage their online reputation. This is when online reputation management companies can devise a strategy to ensure that you get the best results with the people available.
Setting Up and Regularly Updating Your Blog
A blog is an informational page of your website, which tends to be written in an informal and conversational style. It provides value both to the people who are browsing your website and also those checking out a search result from sites such as Google.
This is an excellent tool for promoting your presence within search results as it provides content which can really help your brand to stand out and also has a positive effect on your reputation within your sector.
Schedule Regular Updates to Build Readership
Do remember though that a blog which gets forgotten can do more damage than good to a potential customers perspective of the business. A regularly updated blog gains a positive reputation for being in the know of the latest happenings within the sector.
Invest in Online Reputation Management
Establishing and protecting your reputation online will take an investment of both time and money. However, when you neglect to proactively manage the image you present to an online audience, you may well end up spending much more time and money repairing your online reputation. Then you should consider that while that repair process is underway, more and more customers are being exposed to the negative search content and reviews from Google, making it harder and more time consuming to fix.
Online reputation management will work behind the scenes to avoid the need for repair in the first place. Instead, they will focus its work on a process to build, improve and safeguard your online reputation. Spending time today on establishing and securing your online reputation could save you from a crisis situation tomorrow.