Online Reputation Repair in 5 simple steps
Business reputations are as fragile as ever for companies large and small alike. With online searches, social media, and customer generated reviews on sites like Yelp or Facebook it’s easy for a business’s reputation to be negatively impacted in seconds.
It’s no surprise that shoppers do their research before purchasing. However, in today’s digital age, negative articles and reviews can appear higher in the search engine rankings which can damage reputations dramatically. If that wasn’t bad enough, more and more websites like RipoffReport.com and PissedConsumer.com are popping up every day.
Studies have shown that the Internet is not only a trusted source of information, it is the first place the majority of people go for general news and product research. So, of course, it’s important for every business to protect its brand against intentional attacks, defamatory comments, and inaccurate information. But how can you fix a negative online reputation?
How to repair your online reputation (Step-by-Step Guide)
Step 1. Listen
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
To listen, you need to set up online monitoring to hear the conversation about you and your company, whether on the web or on social media. These alerts will be your early warning system and should be the cornerstone of your online reputation management strategy.
It sounds complicated, but online listening is easy to set up and can be done for free. We’ve tried more than a few business reputation management tools and wasted plenty of money. If you’re just getting started with your ORM (online reputation management) strategy or you’re in need of online reputation repair, we’d suggest you start with the basics:
The most popular free reputation tool on the internet
Google Alerts – will provide you with simple online monitoring delivered straight to your email inbox. Google will send every mention of those keywords to your inbox or you can view them whenever you’d like at google.com/alerts. This means you can listen to blogs, forums, news sites and stay on top of most information being said online.
How to set up Google Alerts:
- Go to google.com/alerts
- Enter a keyword or phrase to track. For example, [My Company Name], or [My Company Name] + price or [My Company Name] + complaints.
- Click “Show options.”
- Choose how often you’d like to be emailed: as it happens; at most once per day: at most once per week.
- Choose a language and region.
- Select how many results you’d like to see: all results; only the best results.
- Enter the email address where you’d like Google to send your free alerts.
- Click “Create alert.”
How to set up an Alert to monitor business reviews for free:
- Basic company name alerts like the ones outlined above should show reviews but it might be worth setting up an alert just for business reviews so you don’t miss them. To do this, create an alert: [My Company Name] + intitle:review
A Free Social Media Monitoring Tool
Rankur – allows you to stay updated on what is happening on social media. They offer a free plan that offers real-time monitoring for two social profiles and affordable paid plans if you need a more robust solution.
Like most free solutions, Google alerts and Rankur have a few limitations but in general, if you’re not using them you are definitely missing out on some helpful insight. If you’re interested in learning about more great tools check out this page all about Digital Marketing Tools.
Step 2. Read
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it”
– Benjamin Franklin
Now that you have online monitoring in place, you can read what people are saying, sharing, and reading about your business. Checking social media and reading your company’s online reviews are natural places to start. Research shows:
- 93% of U.S. consumers check online reviews
- 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family
- 4 out of 5 consumers have reversed a purchase decision based on negative information found online.
In addition to setting up alerts and basic keyword monitoring, we always recommend periodically doing a few Google searches for your business. Like in the example below, it’s important to not only examine the name of your business but the name of the business connected to potentially negative keywords. For example, price and reviews will often appear in the autosuggest dropdown feature on search engines.
According to Moz research, roughly 92% of searchers aren’t going to look at page two or beyond. Therefore, if the first page is free of any negatives, it can significantly strengthen the online reputation of the business. In fact, we might even argue that Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) are the most important component of a positive online reputation. Why?
We’ll use an example to illustrate. Let’s say you’re shopping for a new computer. Maybe you’re thinking about getting an Apple. So, you try Googling “Apple reviews”
Now, a large company like Apple, Inc. probably isn’t as concerned because sales are still strong but for a small business, a negative result like a 1.8 star rating in the first position of Google could spell disaster. The good news is that whether you run a Fortune 500 or small e-commerce website, some simple proactive reputation management could fix this problem.
Ideally, you “own” the first-page search results for your company name. This means you control the pages and content for those first 10 spots in Google. The simplest way to do this is to make sure you have claimed all the major online profiles (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Etc.), link to them from every page on your website within the footer, and then link to them again from every online directory you have registered. This tells Google that these profiles are your official pages and should help them rank highly in the search engine result pages.
Similar to the example above it’s very possible that a review site like Yelp, TrustPilot, Yellow Pages, or Better Business Bureau will show up higher in the search results for your business name. That’s not bad a thing unless your review rating is less than flattering. If that is the case, keep reading this post because we’ll show you how to fix that too.
Step 3. Respond
“Respond; don’t react. Listen; don’t talk. Think; don’t assume.”― Raji Lukkoor
Responding to positive and negative feedback builds consumer trust, it proves you value your customers and care about your business reputation. As an added bonus, Google has said that responding to reviews improves your local visibility within search results, and according to a study done by Harvard Business Review when businesses responded to customer reviews, good or bad, ratings improved.
As a business owner, we know you already have a lot on your plate so in order to save you time, we wanted to share a few review response templates that you can save and customize yourself to make responding a breeze.
But first, here are tips to keep in mind when responding to online reviews:
- Discuss the feedback internally before responding publicly
- If the review is vague, ask questions to clarify the customers’ issues
- Respond quickly and publicly
- No business is perfect, so be transparent if you made mistakes
- Suggest taking the conversation offline by sharing your direct contact information
- Take ownership of the situation and sign your name
Negative review response examples:[reviewers name],
Thank you for writing a review. We’re sorry that your [insert details from reviewers experience] was anything short of wonderful. Your business means a lot to us, so if you have additional feedback for us, please contact me directly at [your direct contact information].
Sincerely,[Your name, your title]
Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us. I’ve shared your review with our staff and we’d like to apologize for [insert details from reviewers experience]. That should never happen but because it did, we would love for you to come back for [apology offer] so we can make things right. If you’re interested, please contact me [your direct contact information].
Thank you,[Your name, your title]
Positive review response examples
Dear [reviewers name],
On behalf of our entire team, thank you so much for taking the time to share your positive feedback!
Sincerely,[Your name, your title]
Hi [reviewers name],
We are thrilled that you [insert details from reviewers’ experience]. The entire team truly appreciates your kind words and can’t thank you enough for taking the time to review us!
Thanks,[Your name, your title]
Step 4. Ask
“There is no harm in asking.” – Proverb
Still, want a better review rating? Need more reviews? Positive feedback is waiting to be shared, but, it’s well known that happy customers don’t write reviews because: “Writing a review is too tedious”, “I forgot” or “I have no time”. You need to ask to get more reviews. Make sure to do so with an easy, automated process using a combination of in-store signage, QR codes/short links, emails, or text messages. Provide a clear request to recent customers and don’t forget to showcase those reviews on your website.
This can be done for free by simply sending emails or text messages asking customers to share their experiences online. However, we’d strongly recommend using a review tool like GetMoreReviews to automate the entire process and prevent negative feedback from becoming an online review. Check out some of their core features below and be sure to signup for their 14-day free trial.
Step 5. Create
If your online presence is limited or the steps outlined above alone do not clear the negative search results, creating new content is probably necessary.
If you don’t have a blog on your website, that should be a natural place to start because you own the blog – you have complete control over what’s said, how well it’s optimized for SEO, and how often you post. You can share valuable information and answer commonly asked questions that people want to know about your company. Not sure what to write? Try Googling your company or your competitors and see what google auto-suggests. You could also look at the different SERP features such as: “People Also Ask” or the “Related Searches” at the bottom of the search result page.
For example, if Samsung was experiencing negative online feedback about their TVs. They might create an in-depth blog post aimed at addressing questions about price or quality. They might also write an article titled “How long does a Samsung Smart TV last” and post it on one of their many blogs or web 2.0 properties like https://news.samsung.com/
In addition to your website, you should consider claiming a few major online profiles. Namecheckr is a free tool that lets you quickly and easily check the domain and social media username availability. If you don’t already have a consistent brand presence for your accounts, you can use this tool to create consistency with all of your usernames.
For this type of content strategy, you should aim to strike a balance between quantity and quality. Every business should secure accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Next, it’s time to pick a few profiles or web 2.0s that have high Domain Authority (DA). Domain Authority is a search engine ranking metric that predicts how likely a website is to rank in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
Moz domain authority is on a scale from 1 to 100, with higher scores indicating a greater likelihood of ranking. You can enter any domain in their free domain analysis tool to check its DA but for this specific purpose here are a few sites that you might look to create: slideshare.net (DA: 95), Tumbler.com (DA: 86), flickr.com (DA: 92)
If you are tech-savvy you should follow the steps outlined to set up free online monitoring, create a review generation funnel and begin to create a stronger content strategy.
However, if you need more help protecting your business against intentional attacks, inaccurate information, collecting or managing your online reviews, drop us a message in the comments below and we’ll try to help!