Why Is Online Reputation Management Important?
Research into a brand, your small business, product, or service often begins online with a search.
Your website will likely be one of only two results when someone searches for your brand.
Those other search results could be saying something about your brand that isn’t as positive as you’d like.
For Small Business Brands
It has often been said that you can’t please everyone, and ultimately there will be someone who is unhappy no matter what you try to do.
In other words, negative reviews happen.
If you aren’t actively monitoring what appears at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) for your branded keywords, you may be missing out on potential reputation issues.
Once a news story about your small business begins to circulate or even incorrect information is added to a third-party website, it can be difficult to repair the damage to your brand.
Your brand’s message must appear on the first page of the SERPs.
Working on your online reputation management proactively can put you in an excellent position to correct misinformation and outrank unfavorable content.
Your Personal Brand
Reputation management is necessary for both your personal and corporate brands.
With your personal brand, you have to make sure that the information available on the internet paints a positive picture.
While we are better at projecting a positive image of ourselves on social media, employers, recruiters, and even your clients are increasingly looking at your social media profiles when considering hiring you to perform a service or purchase your products.
But what if someone searches your name or your employee's name?
What appears first on the SERPs?
How to Carry Out SEO for Online Reputation Management
I'm not going to tell you how to get your website to rank for your small business name or brand term; I'm just going to say that you should.
Obviously, you want to rank as close to position one as possible for your brand name. However, it can be challenging if your brand name is a word that has meaning in your or another language or if your brand name isn't particularly distinctive.
You will want to make every attempt to be ranking as close to position one as possible for your small business name or brand name.
If you can own these, it becomes a property that you can control. With that said, you also want to hold positions two, three, four, and five, which will typically be your social media or directory listings.
1. Control the Front Page
If a prospective client is looking for information on your brand or small business, you want to ensure that the information they read is up to date and accurate.
Therefore, you should strive to control your small business's first five top-ranking results. These listings should include your website, any other digital properties you host, and your social media pages or profiles.
Make sure to create branded accounts for:
Social media platforms are extremely authoritative and will rank highly for most branded search queries.
However, don't just settle for a social media presence.
Create a profile for your company on review sites and industry comparison sites.
Essentially, any property that is not directly owned by you but over which you have some control.
2. Be Active on Review Sites and Social Media
Be forewarned; setting yourself up on the various review sites and social media does come with some risk.
As I mentioned before, you can't make everyone happy, and some people will leave comments and reviews. Hopefully, most will be positive, but some may not be.
However, just because you don't have an official Twitter handle or a company-created Glassdoor page doesn't mean that competitors or disgruntled employees aren't talking about your company.
You may simply have less visibility of it. Therefore, you need to check to see for both positive and negative comments and respond appropriately.
3. Set up a Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business listing) will often be the first result a searcher sees when looking for your brand.
This is one of the easiest and most effective places for your small business or brand to be able to own the results.
Google Business Profile is the perfect place to keep relevant information such as hours and holiday closings updated.
If you don’t have a Google Business Profile, search for “[your brand] opening hours.” It will most likely pull information from a website that hasn’t been updated.
A Google Business Profile listing does increase the likelihood of brand reviews appearing at the top of the SERPs.
As part of your online reputation management, you will want to encourage your clients who will leave you favorable reviews to do so without review gating.
If someone leaves you with a negative review, there is little you can do about it.
If the review somehow violates Google’s review guidelines, you can report it.
However, if the review is legitimate, your best bet is to respond and try to take the conversation offline to resolve it.
4. Be Newsworthy for the Right Reasons
People and prospects will have little sympathy for you if you try to bury a high-ranking negative news article based on facts.
Instead, focus on becoming newsworthy for the right reasons.
Your small business may be able to get press about:
- Charitable contributions
- Encouragement of local teams
- Environmental efforts
Concentrate on digital PR for the sake of PR, even if all you get is a brand mention.
It may be enough to outrank comparison sites, review sites, and other more risky properties for your brand terms if it is on a high authority website.
The key is to fill the front page with positive commentary about your brand that extends beyond the properties you have direct control over.
Set up Google Alerts to Help With Brand Alerts
Keep an eye out for when your brand is mentioned online by using Google Alerts (for free) or other brand mention monitoring tools.
5. It’s Not All About Google
While Google does dominate the search engine landscape, others are out there, such as Bing and DuckDuckGo. Be sure to check them and follow the steps outlined above for them as well.
You should monitor the first page of DuckDuckGo for your small business name and brand phrases. You also need to set up a Bing Places listing.
If there is the slightest chase of your small business or brand being searched on these, you owe it to yourself and your business to monitor and manage your reputation there.
Hopefully, this guide was helpful in understanding the importance of your online reputation and that it needs to be properly managed. You can use traditional SEO techniques to help in shaping and controlling the narrative around your small business’s brand in the SERPs.