When a consumer wants to learn more about a product, he usually takes his search to the Internet. From his comfortable computer chair, he can read reviews about the product, find out whether his friends have tried it and learn more about the history of the product through information readily available on the first page. Consumers also like to check for the bad stuff too, by adding the word “scam” to searches to see what pops up.
Whether you are afraid of these types of issues, or you discover someone has put together a small smear campaign on you, the solution is reputation management. These strategies look comprehensively at what issues your customers are taking with your product, how to address those issues, and ultimately how to improve your image in the search engine.
How Reputation Management Works
Brand.com reviews the reputation of a company comprehensively, looking at all of the negative posts and data that exists. A reputation audit looks at position in the search engine, all potentially negative reviews and other data that might unintentionally turn customers away from your business. These types of companies practice a unique form of PR that targets bloggers for good press, engages community members actively for feedback, and improves content based on those results.
By analyzing the techniques search engines use to rank Web pages, you can look for new ways to improve your ranking. Some of this is basic SEO, like cleaning up the coding of your site. The process also involves outreach, sometimes to the customers that make the complaints in the first place.
With a few basic changes to your site, you can practice reputation management on your own. Work actively to get other sites to link back to your site. Guest post wherever you can to spread your expertise around the Web, and get more involved with social media. Try contacting the host of the negative content as well. A takedown notice, or sometimes a polite conversation can settle the issue and get the information removed.
Is It Ethical?
Another way to look at reputation management is like you are telling your side of the story. Negative press can spread quickly through the social sphere, and often ignores facts in favor of a spin for page views. Managing that spread is no more immoral than trying to clarify a statement taken out of context. While there may be some truth to the criticisms you are receiving, there is nothing wrong with attempting to change for the better.
Reputation management is also an important part of defending the integrity of your business. Cultivating a good reputation with customers takes time, money and energy. A bad review from a first timer with a poor experience should not derail your business.
For contractors, managing one’s reputation can be the deciding factor in landing a job. It’s fairly safe to assume that whoever is hiring you will review your reputation online. Conduct regular Google searches for yourself and read what you find there.
Where someone can cross the line is when information is faked. Avoid soliciting reviews from customers and paying for positive press. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of paying to have content removed either. Quick fixes, like 500 directory links, usually provide a short term fix to a long term problem. This will only reinforce your bad reputation to the search engine.
Stay honest and stick to your guns. Crisis management can seem like a tunnel with no way out. Focus on the customers who still support you, reach out to those who do not, and take feedback seriously. Good reputation management presents your best features first. Great reputation management addresses the issues that created your challenge in the first place.
Image Credit: ShashiBellamkonda