With the rise of social media, third-party review sites, blogs, and other digital platforms, your online reputation matters more than ever before. With over 95% of shoppers reading online reviews before making a purchase, your online reputation can be a significant business asset. But, unfortunately, many businesses find that it can also be a serious liability. (Make sure you aren’t doing these four things that accidentally put your reputation at risk.)
We all know people who seem to have the worst luck with purchases, whose meals at restaurants are always wrong, who somehow receive poor service more often than not—and who love to vent about it to anyone and everyone. With the internet, these unlucky consumers now have a global audience, and can wreak havoc on a company’s online reputation.
Almost every business has gone online and found that someone left them negative reviews or feedback. You’ve likely experienced it yourself (if not, it’s only a matter of time). And from one minute to the next, your online reputation takes a hit. It’s unwise to simply shrug your shoulders and move on, though, because 97% of shoppers say reviews influence their buying decisions. Those negative reviews directly impact your bottom line.
Once those unflattering things are out there, businesses can feel powerless to do anything about them. An online reputation management (ORM) company can help. They give you a voice in the online conversation and help you show the world all the great things your business has to offer, rather than be at the mercy of someone who may have been having a bad day.
Online reputation management has been a concern for business owners for many years, but a 2018 study from TripAdvisor shows just how essential maintaining a positive online presence has become, with 97% of respondents saying reputation management is important to their business. This isn’t just limited to the travel and hospitality industry, either. Businesses in every sector worry about managing their reputation online, and many are turning to reputation management experts for assistance.
What Does a Reputation Management Company Do?
Reputation management companies have a comprehensive toolbox of strategies to analyze, establish, restore, and protect your brand’s image. Some of the ways they accomplish this are:
- Search Engine Optimization and Management – Search engine optimization (SEO) works to improve your rankings in online searches and often includes techniques for increasing traffic to your site. SEO can be used to bring positive information about your company to the forefront and push negative results to the background.
- Content Development and Management – To build a good reputation and rank well in the searches, you need to have quality content. Reputation management services can help you improve your existing content as well as create new material to build credibility.
- Social Media Management – Most online reputation management services can determine how your social media profiles affect your reputation and help you clean up your social networks if needed. They can also strategize the type of posts that will get the highest engagement.
- Review Management – Many ORM services help businesses acquire and manage their online reviews to improve the ratio of positive to negative reviews.
- Third-Party Website Monitoring – There are also third parties that can damage your reputation. Negative reviews on sites like Yelp and Glassdoor can make a big impact, and it’s not difficult for people like former employees or unhappy customers to create a new website or blog to blast your company. Reputation management services can monitor the internet to see what is being said about you.
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What to Look for in a Reputation Management Agency
When you’ve decided to enlist the services of a reputation management company, there are certain qualities to look for.
You want a reputation management firm who uses white-hat tactics, which are more trustworthy and long-term. White-hat strategies follow search engine rules and policies, and leverage organic digital marketing channels with a focus on a human audience rather than just search engines.
It’s important to see how transparent and ORM provider is about its practices. Is it clear about what it will do for you and how it plans to get results? If reputation management consultants are in charge of something as precious as your brand’s reputation, then you want to be aware of everything they are doing.
Reputation management is a long process that requires constant monitoring and adjusting. Therefore it’s essential that communication is a priority for your ORM agency. They need to be easy to reach and provide comprehensive answers and explanations.
Anyone can claim to do reputation management, so look carefully at the experience and skill that they have in ORM strategies and techniques. Do they have a track record? Reputable companies can provide you with testimonials and/or case studies.
Everyone wants a quick fix, but online reputation management isn’t one of them. Here are some red flags when shopping for a reputation management agency:
- If they promise a complete reputation turnaround in less than six months or guarantee they can achieve certain search results for you.
- If they have a way to “outsmart” Google, through things like keyword stuffing, link farming, fake websites or reviews, or any other shady tactic.
- If they don’t allow visibility into the ORM campaign. Some companies try to mystify the process.
- If they don’t regularly track progress and adjust. Search algorithms change and results move up and down, which may lead to opportunities or require a change of strategy.
- If you don’t have a human representative who is available to work with you each month on strategy and your evolving brand.
- If they boast quantity over quality. It doesn’t matter how many websites or social pages a company creates if the quality is poor. Google wants value and quality, so that’s what you need to give them.
Choosing the Right Business Reputation Management Service
Unfortunately, just about every public relations or search engine optimization agency claims to be a reputation management firm, so it will take some due diligence on your part to choose the right one for you.
First, figure out your needs and goals. Next, research your options. (Recommendations from your network may be a great place to start.) Finally, talk to the companies you are considering and get a feel for how they treat clients, the services they provide, and what they can do for you. In the end, you want an honest, experienced provider that cares about your company and goals, and approaches the relationship as a strategic partner.
A Trustworthy ORM partner
If you’d like to have a trustworthy reputation management expert on your side, Big Leap has years of experience improving and protecting the online reputation for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Our reputation management experts can partner with you to put your best foot forward online. Contact us today to find out what we can do for your business.