As we know, the web is pretty much the first place people do their research about products, services, people, and even companies. Your customers are out there looking for you but are you in control of what they are finding? Effectively managing your online reputation is one of the most important initiatives for any online marketing strategy. Think about it…there is content out there about your brand being consumed by your potential customers. But is the content designed and delivered by you or are other people out there creating content that is inconsistent with your messaging and potentially damaging to your brand?
The web is a very transparent place and if there is damaging information out there, chances are some of your customers are going to find it. Let’s say for example someone is interested in hiring your company so they Google your brand name. They find your website at the top of the page but then right underneath the listing in the second position is an article on RipOffReport.com with brutal information about the company and key executives written by a disgruntled former employee or customer. Not good!! This could derail MANY potential customers and cost you tons of money. Other examples might include postings on rating and review sites or articles written by influential bloggers in your industry.
So how does a large company with potentially much to lose combat negative content while also giving customers and employees a voice?
The key is to be transparent and get involved in actively managing your online content. I will break this into three main components:
If there is negative content out there on the web, first address the issue. If there is validity to the comments maybe there is a legitimate concern and something that company executives need to look into. If a problem is discovered, the company should develop a messaging strategy for dealing with it and of course FIX THE PROBLEM. Once this is done, respond to the negative content with the company’s solutions and post new content on your website that addresses the issues in detail. We will get more into that later in this article.
Take inventory of both positive and negative material out there on the web and then create a strategy for managing your company’s online reputation. This could involve some or all of the following:
- Creating new content (this could be in the form of blogs, videos, press releases, white papers, etc.
- Create new pages on your website designed to address potential issues (rebuttal pages, FAQs, etc)
- Get involved in social media to communicate with customers and distribute good content
- Promote existing positive content more aggressively
- Create a messaging strategy for dealing with negative press
- Remove negative content
- Push negative results off the first page of Google through aggressive SEO and link building efforts
Be consistent. Effective online reputation management is an ongoing effort and can even be executed in a preventive manner as well. Whatever appoarch is taken it needs to be done thoughtfully and inline with the compay’s messaging strategy. If there is negative content appearing in the SERPs you need to consult and Internet marketing agency that knows SEO and ORM. Pushing content down in the search engines is a function of SEO and therefore a crucial component to managing online reputation.