You have worked hard to build a reputation for quality delivery, set up your online presence according to the latest information – then you find some negative comments posted about your business online!
Customers can give glowing positive reviews, but users will read the negative reviews first and will share negative information before they share the positive, this is just a fact of life, and verified in research (Dimensional Research).
Gen X users report a staggering 99% and high-income groups a 100% chance of sharing bad customer service. In addition, there is a 91% chance that an unhappy customer will not do business with a company again and that it takes forty positive reviews to undo the damage of one negative review, but only one in ten happy customers will leave a positive review. Do the math!
SERM Definition and Goals
Managing negative reputational risk online requires the use of good old-fashioned public relations (PR) mixed with technical skill in search engine optimization (SEO), namely Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM).
Customers rarely look at more than two pages of results in searches, so the goal of SERM is to get good reviews and publicity as high up in the rankings as possible, in order to push the negative comments so far down that most users won’t see it.
This means having to monitor for negative comments and publications and understanding what constitutes good public relations in your market, as well as a thorough understanding of how to improve rankings via SEO.
Why It’s Important to Monitor Your Online Reputation?
In today’s connected world, most users will do an online search before interacting, and
- Negative feedback will steer them to your competitors or make them doubt your attempts at presenting a positive image
- Review sites are becoming more and more popular, showing that people do read reviews by customers before deciding to connect.
Your company’s market value is directly related to your online reputation, and research conducted by Aon shows that reputation damage now heads the list of Top Ten Business Risks, with an eighty percent chance of your company losing value in five years.
Tips to Increase Your Positive Web Presence
In order to get as many positive listings as possible regarding your brand at the top of the search engine results, you need to start with the following.
Ensure full optimization of your company’s website to ensure that it always shows up first in search engine results – this way you present to the customer the first impression of your company or brand, and you get to control the narrative.
Ensure that all your communications are published to your website such as testimonials, white papers, case studies, press articles and press releases, the more positive content the higher your website will be in the rankings.
Submit regular press releases to the wire services with positive brand-related content
Check other highly ranked sites to make sure that content about your company is accurate and up to date, maintain a good relationship with their publishers to correct it quickly.
How to Fix & Improve Your Online Image
Actions you should consider to fix and improve your online image.
Claim Your Identity on Social Media before Someone Else Does
A small business has come under attack even when they do not have an online presence, and this can be the most damaging type of negative online profiling, as there is nothing to counteract it, it will always show up at the top of the search engine results. Make sure you cover the most important social media channels too.
Get help with professional bio’s and make sure your landing page states clearly what you do, quality information and contact details. Identity theft is becoming widespread, and unscrupulous people could pretend to represent your business unless you claim your brand and identity early.
Actively Contribute to Common Business and Personal Profile Sites
Adding your information to these sites sets a positive tone, and contributions to discussions or forums can help build a profile of trustworthiness. Do not be spammy – contribute relevant content in a professional manner. Control the narrative this way, if an occasional negative comment pops up it is more likely to be ignored if you have made yourself known as being professional.
Add New Blog Content to Your Site on a Regular Basis
Blogging is an excellent way to show off your expertise, knowledge, and professionalism, add regular blogs to your website. Keep the content relevant and fresh to attract positive comments and highlight those comments. This will assist with boosting Google and other search engine rankings too, in addition to frequent press releases, which can bury negative commentary way down in the search engine results.
Monitor the Web for Negative Comments and Address them Directly
Apart from responding to all customers on your own website or social media platforms in a timely and polite manner, do regular searches or sign up for Google Alerts to pick up any mention of your company online. Use the following keywords to conduct your search:
- Branded queries
- Your brand plus a key service or product offered
- Your brand plus “comparison”, or “reviews”, or “advantages” etc.
- General queries related to your niche market or industry
Make sure to check all graphical content as well, for example, podcasts, videos, infographics (as it may not be picked up by search engines). Alternatively, you may want to use an automation tool such as SERP tracker if you have a very large online presence.
Actively Work to Remove Irrelevant and Unwanted Content
First and foremost try diplomacy, contact the offender and discuss the issues in a polite, non-defensive manner and see if you can repair the damage and calm the person down enough to retract the comment or review. Oftentimes customers just want an apology, and if the person dealing with them did not offer one, it will escalate very quickly.
If diplomacy and reason fail, or you have no leverage to use to rectify the situation, you may need to resort to using expert sites, such as BrandYourself, that uses proprietary techniques to remove the offending content, or as a last resort turns to the legal system to have defamatory content removed. If you are dealing with trolls on your own website, you can remove their comments, if you do so speedily.
Remember to check staff satisfaction – if they have access to your online profile they can do serious damage too.
Conclusion on PR SEO Best Practices
Of course, the best course of action is to prevent negative commentary, rather than trying to fix it after the event. If you live the reputation you want to see online, you will most likely not need to do so much damage control after.
This means providing a product or service quality as promised, great customer service (i.e. being accessible and responsive), and providing customer education as to how to use your products or services most efficiently. Great customer service is priceless.
Moreover, to grow your website traffic, you can check out this exclusive SEO optimization guide.
Author’s bio: This is a guest post by Kevin Whalez, a marketing specialist, business consultant, and psychologist, who investigates how to make people and organizations more effective. Currently, he is working with Smart Pill related resources.