The reputation of a business is its most important metric for growth and success. And in today’s interconnected online world, managing a business’s reputation is more important than ever.

It takes time and effort to create and maintain a positive online reputation but, unfortunately, just one or two negative reviews can destroy it fast. That’s why it’s vital to monitor and measure online reputation and take a proactive approach to improve it where necessary.

How do you maintain your online reputation?

While it’s true that businesses can’t directly control what people say online about them or their services, it is possible to actively listen to customer feedback and fight issues head-on. And this forms the basis of creating and maintaining a usefully positive online reputation.

A business’s online reputation includes a number of elements including media coverage, blog posts, social media chatter and customer reviews – among others. There are also other elements that are directly under your control as a business leader, such as your own website, the company’s social media feeds and any original optimised content.

Why is managing online reputation important for businesses?

For any business that intends to be a success, the public perception of it is very important. The external perception of a brand is up there among the most important aspects of a business in terms of its future success.

Creating and maintaining a positive online reputation is about building honest and open communication with customers, current and potential. In order to do so, your online reputation requires a balance of optimised content, digital marketing techniques and effective PR strategies. All of this combines to promote, grow and improve the company’s external reputation.

Measurement and monitoring is the first step as this allows you to understand the current status of your brand’s reputation. This can then inform your online reputation management strategy and ensure it is flexible enough to deal with the changing moods of customer opinion.

How should you manage the reputation of your business?

Recent research shows that 40% of business leaders actively monitor the company’s reputation every day. Others ensure their digital marketing teams monitor it even more regularly, sometimes on an hourly basis.

There are no excuses for not being aware of the public discourse surrounding your business. Furthermore, in today’s world, there is no option for ignoring customer sentiment. Instead, it should be acted on with a workable strategy. Remember that a negative online reputation isn’t just about customer feelings, but also your bottom line.

How should you build a positive online reputation?

As we’ve already mentioned, the strategy should start with measurement and monitoring. And this is where a thorough understanding of the importance of Google search results comes in.

Google controls over 90% of all search engine traffic and 64% of customers say that they trust these results as much as they would word of mouth. Also, about 95% of the traffic driven by a Google search is contained on the first page of the results.

This means that the first few links you see when you Google your business name are the most important. If these are negative, then that causes a problem that needs to be solved through a well-managed business online reputation strategy.

The strategy should be geared towards always showing your brand in the best possible light. This will organically build trust with customers and help you withstand any potential fallout from negative content in the future.

Three elements of measuring online reputation

The three most important elements to managing your online reputation are:

  1. Reputation monitoring

At Igniyte, we deal with every client’s reputation needs individually. But we always begin at the same place – effective monitoring of the online reputation to create the best possible strategy. The goal of online reputation management is always to maintain and improve a positive reputation across every possible media channel.

  1. Reputation repair

This is where the online reputation management strategy kicks in. A repair strategy has the aim of making sure all links on the first page of Google search results show the company in the best light. There are various methods we use to repair a corporate reputation, including legal methods to remove content if necessary.

  1. Reputation building

Reputation building is the proactive part of online reputation management. By creating high quality, fully optimised, targeted content we can organically push down negative links and therefore enhance the positive reputation.

5 ways to protect your online reputation as a business leader

Here are a few ways businesses can work to improve their reputation online.

  1. Developing a positive brand identity

By systematically creating a brand identity, it’s possible to make sure everyone at the business is following the same goals. A clear brand identity helps employees deal with online communications, including social media, to boost the company’s reputation.

This could mean working with professional reputation managers to diversify your brand’s presence across social media and communication channels.

  1. Show off your values

Customers want to deal with brands that care about them and reflect their own values. Having a connection with the business is important and this is even more so during challenging times. Brands and business leaders can play an important role in cultivating customers by showcasing their values and living up to them.

  1. Don’t forget your customers

This is an obvious step, but an important one for your online reputation. Nothing is more effective than great service to improve customers’ opinions of your business. If they feel they have been listened to then they will champion your brand online without being directed to.

  1. Customer loyalty should be your goal

Customer loyalty cultivated by business leaders automatically shows the superiority of the company. Loyal customers are worth their weight in advertising revenue and all it takes to get this is to dedicate time to cultivating this loyalty.

  1. Never ignore feedback

It’s can be tempting to ignore any negative online feedback. However, this is exactly the wrong thing to do. Whether the feedback is from a customer, partner, or employee, dismissing it will end up damaging your reputation in the future. Instead, find ways to learn from it and transform it into opportunities for change.

For more on protecting your business’s online reputation click here.

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