Reputation is everything in business. 

Without a good one, you’re doomed. Think about it. The last time you considered trying a new restaurant or purchasing a hotel stay, what did you do? Googled it. If all that research pulled up too much negative, you skipped it without batting an eye.

With 95% of shoppers reading online reviews before making a purchase, your online reputation can be a significant business asset or a significant pitfall if you neglect it. It is essential to learn how to protect your brand, which starts with learning all about reputation management best practices, key mistakes to avoid, and where to go when you need an expert’s opinion. 

How Your Reputation Can Affect Your Business

Sometimes, a negative review of your brand from a publication with a higher domain authority will rank higher than your actual website. Or maybe you’ll see content from your competitor instead of yours, and you just can’t quite get past them. This can directly impact customers’ perception of the business and keep customers from navigating to your site. 

It’s also important to note that managing an online reputation is vital for all businesses, even if there isn’t a single bad word about you out there. As you’re able to position your brand and your site as an authority, your SERP (search engine results pages) positions will improve organically as both real people and Google see the value you offer.

The Basics of Online Reputation Management

Before diving into what your business should be doing, let’s discuss what reputation management is. Reputation management is the continuous process of working to maintain a good public opinion surrounding your business or brand. Having a solid reputation is pivotal in inspiring customer loyalty, which is what can ultimately boost your profit. 

How to Start Using Reputation Management to Improve SERP Rankings

Reputation management should be a consideration for all brands when they’re monitoring how they’re doing in the SERPs. Timely, negative reviews can easily skyrocket to the top result, even if it’s for just one or two keywords that your audience is searching for. When that happens, it’s your job to find ways to elevate more positive content up above the other content.

To get your business to the top of Google in a way that will benefit you, it’s important to: 

    1. Get those reviews: Getting Google reviews will improve your credibility with searchers, and Google likes to see it, too. To get more reviews, reach out to customers who you know have been happy after their experience with you, and use automated software like Yotpo to collect reviews regularly.
    2. Write great content: Use content marketing to your advantage. Blogging regularly gives you a chance to demonstrate expertise, establish authority, and build relationships with your readers. 
    3. Drown out negative content: If you’ve noticed that there’s some sort of negative content showing up at the top of the SERPs you’re trying to rank for, first figure out which keywords they’re ranking for. Then, try to write more valuable and informative content and target the same keywords to try to displace it.
    4. Go Beyond Text: If you really want to give yourself an edge in the SERPs, you should be optimizing for multiple types of SERPs. That’s right, Google’s general search isn’t the only one to focus on. Make sure you have quality images and videos about your brand that will show up in dedicated searches for either one. In some cases, your video can even show up on the first place of results even in regular searches.
    5. Incorporate SEO best practices: If you want to make the biggest impact and get onto Google’s first SERP page, you need to implement SEO best practices. Focus on fast site loading speeds, keyword optimization, and improved crawlability.

Common Mistakes and How to Mend Them

While managing reputation is essential, it can be difficult to control. Much of your online presence stems from outside influence. However, you can easily protect your reputation, keep customers coming back for more, and pull in a few new ones along the way by avoiding these common mistakes.

Mistake #1: Ignoring Online Reviews

Online reviews are a powerful currency in reputation management. What you say about your business matters little compared to what others say. After all, you’re a tiny bit biased and consumers know it.

Engaging with online reviews is a crucial reputation management strategy for both good and bad feedback. So what should you do? Express gratitude for the good and resolve the bad.

For good reviews, thank users enthusiastically for their time and review. Let them know how much you appreciate them. For negative reviews, respond genuinely. Apologize for the poor experience and follow-up. If someone from the customer support team has resolved the issue, state that. If not, inquire further. 

Mistake #2: Deleting Negative Reviews

We’ve all felt that pit-in-the-stomach, heart-sinking feeling that comes when we see a negative review of our business. Our first instinct is to hide it. Why would we want anyone to see that? But before you do, take a deep breath. Do not delete. Here’s why: Do not delete. 

First, it shows a lack of transparency. Customers notice when their review has been deleted. Often they then broadcast their story louder and more widely. If word gets out that you censor reviews, you’ll be seen as untrustworthy, if not downright fraudulent. 

More importantly, documented evidence proves that people like to see non-perfect reviews. It’s seen as more realistic and honest. 95% of customers suspect fake reviews or censorship if they don’t see anything negative. 

Mistake #3: Maintaining an Inconsistent Online Presence

You’re likely using several different marketing channels to connect with your target audience. It’s imperative to stay consistent and present on each. Otherwise, potential customers assume you’re out of the game. You want to send the message that your business is thriving. If your business is struggling with this, digital marketing blogs tend to have great resources. 

Mistake #4: Thinking No Reputation Is a Positive One

Some brands straight up don’t invest in their reputation management because they think it’s not important. We haven’t had a crisis, so we’re good, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, no news isn’t necessarily good news. You need to have a reputation. 

Using Review Schemas For Reputation Management

Review schemas are an extremely simple concept. You add a snippet of code to your site to showcase the reviews you’ve obtained from your customers. When users see your listing in the SERPs, they’ll also see a visual rating out of five stars that showcases your current reviews.

Since 84% trust reviews as much as recommendations from a friend, this creates an opportunity to not only stand out in the SERPs but also make a powerful first impression. When people click, they’ll go in on a good note, knowing others have had favorable things to say about your business, products, or services. That can carry a lot of weight with online reputation management (ORM), so use it to your advantage. 

How to Implement Review Schema

Implementing review schema can be a little technical, but the good news is that there are so many tools out there that will make the process easier. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll be in good shape to improve your online reputation in no time.

Set Up Review Software

Setting up review software on your site is an important first step because it allows you to collect and encourage the creation of new, original reviews on your site.

Trustpilot  is an excellent choice. They’re an official Google Review partner, the software is reliable and easy to install on your site, and paid plans will send out emails to customers who have made recent purchases to ask them to leave reviews. You can display these reviews on your site, and then use them to create review schema.

Even better, Trustpilot and other options including Whitespark (which is more affordable, also great, and better suited to smaller businesses with tighter budgets) are coded in a way that they’re search engine friendly.

Generate the Review Schema

There are a number of different ways to generate review schema, but one of the easiest will be to use the JSON-LD Aggregate Rating Generator. There are a number of schema generators out there if you aren’t a fan of this one.

You can head to the schema generator and enter in the information that you want users to see in the search field. For this simple version, you just need a product name, the average rating, the number of ratings, and the number of written reviews.

Install the Review Schema

Copy the code that the schema generator provides you. Note that you may need to create different codes detailing the reviews for each different product. Go to the text editor of your site, and insert the code onto the page. This will be placed directly into the source code.

WordPress sites can use the Schema plugin to easily install schema markups onto the site, even without a lot of coding knowledge or experience. Shopify stores can use the Shema App Total Schema Markup, and other tools are available for other CMS systems.

Test It

Once you’ve installed your review schema, you want to test it. It’s easy for schema coding to go a little awry even if you’re using a tool to help.

Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool is a quick and easy way to ensure that your schema is in good standing and working well. Warnings might not be anything immediately concerning, but you should fix Error alerts immediately. All you need to do is enter the URL of the pages you want to review and have Google evaluate it for you.

Rules to Follow

Now that you know how to actually install review schemas onto your site, there are a few rules set out by Google, so it’s important to follow them:

  • Never use aggregate rating on your homepage; it should only be used for product or service pages.
  • Reviews must come from actual reviews from real users, and they must all be visible on your website pages that are showing the review schema. 
  • Pages that have the review schema must be directly relevant to the reviews. 
  • Reviews should be unique to your site and not pulled from your Google My Business listing, Facebook, Yelp, or other sites. 
  • You should have the reviewer’s permission to publish their statements. 
  • Users should be able to add new reviews to your site that would affect the rating.

Hiring a Reputation Management Company

Whether your business is struggling with bad reviews and visibility or you simply want to outsource the work, you may need outside support. Reputation management companies can protect your brand’s image with:

  • 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 As discussed, quality content is key. 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 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 online reputation services help businesses acquire and manage their online reviews to improve the ratio of positive to negative reviews.
  • Third-Party Website Monitoring – Reputation management companies also monitor the internet to see what is being said about you.

What to Look For

Online reputation management (ORM) is hard! If you’re ready to outsource help, be sure to vet companies thoroughly. Certain qualities to look for include: 

  • Trustworthy strategies: You want a firm that uses white-hat tactics, which are more trustworthy and long-term. 
  • Transparency: If reputation consultants are in charge of something as precious as your brand’s reputation, then you want to be aware of everything they are doing. Ask lots of detailed questions about their process. 
  • Communication: Managing a reputation is a long process that requires constant monitoring and adjusting, so a good consultant needs to be easy to reach. 
  • Expertise: Anyone can claim to do consulting, so look carefully at their experience. Reputable companies should always be able to provide you with testimonials and/or case studies. Big Leap’s case study for Nu Skin is a good example of what you can expect to see. 

Red Flags

Everyone wants a quick fix, but ORM 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.

In the end, you want an honest, experienced provider that cares about your company and goals and approaches the relationship as a strategic partner.

Get Started with Big Leap

Developing a strong brand takes a ton of work. Reputation management is an ongoing endeavor that should be carefully and consistently nurtured. 

If you’d like to have a trustworthy and effective expert on your side, Big Leap has years of experience. Get started with our reputation management services now and see where we can take your business.