What is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management refers to all activities undertaken to shape opinions of a business or brand’s audience based on its online presence. A company’s online reputation is largely built on the total information available on frequently used search engines like Google or Facebook. Online Reputation Management (ORM) involves proactively influencing the nature of that information so target audiences are more likely to see the brand in a positive light when they search for or come across it online.
A number of strategies and techniques are used in building and repairing online reputations. For example, to suppress damaging and harmful content on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), a brand needs to rank with desirable original or third-party material above it.
Online Reputation Management Basics and Why ORM is Important
Digital media has come a long way in the last few years. People have access to unfiltered information and global communication from their phones and computers. While this is great for networking and showcasing our creativity, the downside is that with the increased exposure comes the risk of more negative content, which can be difficult to contain and manage.
Every time a potential stakeholder hears about your brand for the first time, the first thing they do is Google your company to know more. Consumer surveys by Bright Local show that 98% of those potential stakeholders will read online reviews about the brand left by other consumers. Many human resource departments scour the internet to research job candidates as part of their screening process. Even individuals on dating apps tend to Google their matches before meeting up with them.
Statistics show that no matter how many thousands, or even millions of hits come up on a search results page, only a quarter of searchers click beyond the first page. This means that 75% of internet users rely on the information they find on the first page only.
A brand’s most valuable digital asset is the cache of positive search results that reflect its values and offerings in a positive light. A positive online presence can enhance future opportunities by improving the ratings and reviews of the business, attracting new clients for products and services, and increasing the reputational value of the brand.
Ignoring your online reputation means that anything posted online, regardless of its nature, including social media, forums, reviews, blogs, and search rankings, can affect you or your business. Shrewd entrepreneurs know that leaving their online reputation to fate is not a risk worth taking. Enlisting the services of a professional reputation management firm to help you build your online reputation will allow you to focus on other critical revenue generating activities.
The basic components of online reputation management according to brand reputation management experts are:
- Online reviews.
- Profile optimization.
- Content development.
Reviews are an integral part of an online reputation management strategy. Positive reviews can be leveraged to increase revenue, while negative reviews have the opposite effect of potentially impacting sales and growth.
As the top website for reviews, Google influences consumer decisions more than any other business review website. Zero-click searches are becoming more commonplace. This is when a search will pull up enough information that the searcher doesn’t need to click on any of the links offered. This means Google reviews and ratings have become more prominent in search engine results and their importance is further amplified.
Testimonials have a strong influence on consumer decision making. Service industry professionals, care service providers, and those in the healthcare industry consider customer testimonials as an important part of their business. People are also more likely to leave a positive review about a business if an initial negative experience with a service provider turned into a positive one. This illustrates that in addition to boosting the reputational value of a business, a negative online review can provide a learning experience for a business about certain aspects of its services that may need to be improved.
A good review management strategy should also incorporate ways in which a business can ensure a continuous funnel of positive reviews, and tactics to suppress or remove a negative Google reviews.
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A business or individual only gets one chance to make a first impression. The most successful brands take their online presence seriously, so that the first time a potential consumer comes across them, that first impression is a positive one.
A strong brand is an indication of authority and expertise in a particular industry. Incorrect, negative, or missing information can cost high-value clients, or if it is your personal brand, lucrative job opportunities. Because the first page of Google Search Engine Results Pages is equivalent to a physical first impression, it is crucial to monitor what is being said. The first thing any good ORM consultant will do is conduct an audit of a business’s entire online presence. They will look for positive and negative reviews, content and discussions, as well as outdated contact information, and misspelled names and words.
The next step is to acquire some digital assets that can help to strengthen an online reputation, such as:
- Google My Business profile listing.
- LinkedIn profiles, and other profiles related to your industry.
- Personal websites.
- Relevant social media profiles.
Optimizing a profile simply means making it easier for Google to rank it, in order for it to be visible to your targeted audience.
You can optimize your profile using:
- High resolution profile pictures and banners that easily communicate the nature of your business or profession.
- Well-written biographies that highlight the most important aspects of your brand.
- Showcasing your business connections and partners.
- Positive testimonials and reviews about your business.
- Third party content that shows your business in a positive light.
Content development refers to the creation of content that promotes your brand. Content can be paid for or generated organic. Examples of paid-for content include Google Adwords or paid guest blog posts on other influential websites. Good content is original, high-quality, and well-written content, which can be further optimized with:
- Well captioned and relevant images.
- Relevant keywords incorporated.
- Published on high domain authority websites with networks of backlinks created.
- Synchronized content across all online platforms.
- Diversified channels of distribution, such as podcasts and internet radio in addition to conventional social media.
Warren Buffet once famously said: “It takes about twenty years to build a reputation and about five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
All organizations stand to gain from a positive online reputation. Consumers prefer to interact with respected brands, and a positive digital footprint helps businesses accelerate their growth. A negative online reputation, on the other hand, can cost an organization or person valuable contacts and opportunities. A strong digital presence forms a company’s online foundation and is key to its survival and growth in a rapidly evolving digital world.
Reputation Management Is an Integral Component to the Success of Any Company.
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