Do you know what people are saying about you online? Traditional marketing has always known the value of word of mouth marketing. Today the internet, well, more specifically search engines, has made knowing what people are saying about you even more important than traditional word of mouth marketing. Why? Because 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So, if your reputation isn’t managed well it could be very costly. And, did you know that what people say about you online impacts your search results?
Case in Point
A few years ago, American Airlines had a costly run in with a guitar. In fact, it cost the airline $180 million and a 10% loss in their stock prices. When a passenger witnessed the airline mishandling his guitar, which resulted in the instrument being seriously damaged, and the airline refused to pay for the damages, the passenger — musician David Caroll — wrote a song, United Breaks Guitars. The YouTube video was a huge hit with more than 15 million views and the major contributor to the airlines dip in stock prices.
Granted, this one incident didn’t bring American Airlines to destruction, but it is a good example of how, when a company has a bad reputation, business is simply more difficult to conduct, the cost of doing business increases and it’s far more difficult to retain customers and employees, shareholders, and other important stakeholders, than it is in good times.
How to Fix a Bad Online Reputation
Arguably, protecting an organization’s reputation is the most important yet difficult task facing senior management teams and boards of directors today. First, it’s important to point out that reputation management is a game best played using offense. When you’re on the defense, when you’re trying to fix a negative online sentiment it’s an uphill battle that takes a lot more work than had you started your vigilance early and when things were calm and clean. However, if you find your business in a toxic situation, here are some things you can do to keep your reputation on track:
- Monitor! This is first and foremost. If you don’t know whether or not you have a negative reputation, how can you fix it? There are a lot of tools as well as agencies such as LocalDirective that offer services to help you monitor your online reputation. But just like protecting your online identity, monitoring isn’t enough.
- You need to respond to what is out there and be proactive in acquiring positive reviews, testimonials, and stories from happy customers.
- Finally, never become complacent. The moment you think you’re safe something will happen. What I mean is that just because there isn’t negative chatter around your business doesn’t mean that you don’t need a reputation management program. Be proactive in building your brand as a strong company to do business with.
You know, Benjamin Franklin once said “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it”. No other words have ringed so true as this statement. Especially in today’s digital, share-everything world.
How to Manage Your Online Reputation
Managing your online reputation isn’t just for businesses with a toxic situation. Your online reputation also plays into other things such as your search results. I am sure you’ve seen the stars that show up next to a company in Google search results, but did you ever wonder how or why the stars were there? Most SEO strategists find a strong correlation between reviews and organic search result rankings, particularly in Google. It is widely believed in the industry that the importance of reviews as they relate to search result rankings will only increase over time. Therefore, being able to display your stars will show Google that your customers trust you, that they are happy with what you provide, and that you’re a credible solution. Here are some things we know about reviews and how they impact local SEO:
- It’s generally believed that 10 reviews left at Google provides a little bit of a ranking boost
- Google may be trying to incorporate review sentiment into its ranking algorithms so it would be who of you to get ahead of that and start managing your sentiment today so that when this does happen you’re not playing catch up.
- On-page SEO remains the top factor that Google considers when ranking local business, but studies show that reviews are rapidly growing in importance.
- Finally, Google knows a fake review when it sees one and can penalize you for such tactics. In order to rank and to rank with stars, be sure that your reviews legitimate.
Get Started Today
While SEO and online reputation management play nicely together, they are not the same thing and should not be used unethically to impact each other. Online reputation management avoids using black hat SEO techniques. Black hat techniques can ultimately damage your reputation by making it difficult to maintain a positive long term presence on search engine results.