Diagnosing and Repairing Your Online Reputation

08 February 2021
by Archie Williamson
5 mins
Diagnosing and Repairing Your Online Reputation

Your online reputation is effectively digital word of mouth with feedback, reviews and recommendations having a direct impact on buyer’s decisions both in the B2B and B2C space.

With three-quarters of consumers using Google search as the jumping off point for their respective journeys with a company and the ongoing shift to e-commerce amid store closures, it is no surprise that a brand’s online reputation is key to sales and success.

Online reputation is a broad term that is influenced by many factors, from social media accounts and content marketing, to customer service channels and user generated reviews. Businesses aim to bring together these disparate activities to create a positive perception of their brand.

While the scale of that can appear daunting, you can diagnose your online reputation and put the building blocks in place to repair and improve it through effective online reputation management (ORM).

By being proactive, you can prevent small problems from becoming a stain on your company’s reputation and encourage positive feedback via owned and paid media.

Diagnosis via an audit

To do this, you need to create a process that enables you to diagnose, repair and manage your online reputation over time so you have clear steps documented about what to do and when. This will create an implementation and feedback loop that will also improve the process.

First, you need to audit your online reputation, so you know exactly what people think about your brand and the issues you need to address when challenging that view. You then need to follow best practices that will nurture positive responses organically.

Brand monitoring is the best way to conduct the initial part of your audit. To start, open an incognito window in your browser of choice and then perform a Google search with your brand name. The first page of SERPs is what most people will see so list each site and determine whether it is positive or negative.

Research shows that a single negative site on the first page can lead to a 22% drop off in business while three or more negative articles can really lead to a notable decline.

You should also jot down any rich results that are surfaced here and Google My Business (GMB) features such as user reviews, ratings and photos. This word of mouth is very important too.

Now you have a complete list of sites, you can start targeting those that you have some degree of control over. Your GMB profile, social media accounts and website blog fall under this category while third party content does not.

You can easily fix the first by making amendments and updates. The latter is trickier, but you can get in touch with any sites to ask them to remove misleading reviews, for example, and start a conversation that could change their perception about your brand. They may be willing to update an article with a statement from you addressing concerns, or remove them altogether if you can demonstrate any objective issues have been fixed.

After a basic audit like this, you should start answering key questions about your online reputation such as:

  • How many sites on the first page of results do I control?
  • What types of sites are ranked in the top positions?
  • Is the overall sentiment for my brand positive, neutral or negative?

Start repairing by prioritising SEO

As demonstrated above, the first page of Google is very influential, so you need to focus on SEO to improve your rankings for target keywords.

The initial audit was centred around your brand name but to improve your reputation you need to dominate SERPs for a few other terms and queries that searchers are making when looking for your products and services.

According to SEMrush, branded keywords are defined as a “query that includes your website’s brand name or variations of it and is unique to your domain.”

You can conduct keyword research using free online tools. You want to find branded keywords that have a high search volume. Targeting any terms where there are negative results for your brand is also important as outlined earlier.

Greenlight new content

Using SEO services to craft search friendly content that will outrank negative pieces and show up regularly at the top of SERPs for branded terms is one of the best ways to start repairing your online reputation.

Content marketing is an excellent tool for branding as it enables you to showcase authority and deliver messages that will shape the perception of your business. Think of content and SEO as a means of projecting what you want your brand to be and influencing consumer’s views of it.

Creating and maintaining a blog section on your site will make it easier for you to rank for your brand name and core offerings over time. Blogs and articles, when deployed correctly, can feature in Google’s top-ranking spots and keep other potentially negative content at bay.

Encourage positive reviews

You also need to put work into areas that you have less control over such as online reviews. Around nine in ten consumers say negative reviews makes them second guess a potential business and around half demand a four-star review of higher before considering a purchase.

Customer experience expert Dan Gingiss recommends asking people to leave a review but only after delivering an excellent or added value experience. This is where content comes in again. You can educate, inform and entertain customers and then subtly ask them to comment, review or share your content via a social link.

You can also encourage customers to leave positive reviews in newsletters, follow up emails and on social media. However, not all reviews will be glowing so be ready to respond to anything negative in the right manner to mitigate potential downsides.

A study by Lee Resource found 70% of customers are willing to return to a business after an unsatisfactory experience if they get the right response.

To conclude, your online reputation will have an impact on what consumers think about your brand and their desire to conduct business with you. While negative reviews can be a hindrance, you can take active steps to rehabilitate and improve your reputation to change minds, generate positive brand mentions and drive traffic and sales.

If you want to start the process of repairing your online reputation and need help with SEO and content, contact us today and one of our consultants will assist you.


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