Now more than ever your company’s online presence is essential to its success. An effective online reputation management strategy can enable you to both bolster your public image and drive business to your door. Although there are many benefits to utilizing ORM strategies for businesses, nine of the top benefits of online reputation management include that it:
- Builds trust and community;
- Reinforces your brand and image;
- Attracts a younger, internet-savvy generation to your business;
- Increases customer retention;
- Increases profitability by driving business your way;
- Attracts strong employees and increases employee retention;
- Improves search engine rankings;
- Differentiates your business from competitors;
- Provides cost-free advertising.
At Minc Law, we provide customizable online reputation management services as well as digital risk protection services to help monitor, bolster, and protect your business’s online reputation. Using both legal and non-legal services, we remove damaging online content and help individuals and businesses boost their online reputations.
In this article, we will discuss why implementing an online reputation management strategy is important to your business’s success. We will then discuss what benefits online reputation management services can offer your company and how to choose the best online management plan for your needs. Finally, we discuss what self-help steps you can take to manage your business’s online reputation.
Importance of Online Reputation Management
Online reputation management refers to a combination of digital marketing, public relations, and search engine optimization (SEO) tools and strategies that you can use to improve and maintain your online image.
Whether you are a business owner intent on bringing more customers in the door or want to strengthen your personal reputation ahead of a career change, online reputation management provides a game plan to cultivate a positive online reputation. ORM is an effective way to bolster positive reviews, news articles, and statements about you or your business online.
A comprehensive online reputation management strategy can also help suppress negative content about you or your business, driving it further down in search results.
How Do Online Reviews Reflect Your Reputation Management?
Whether it be an online review on a consumer review site like Google, TripAdvisor, or Yelp, what people say about your business online matters. A lot. In 2020, 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year. Of those consumers, 87% read online reviews before making their decision. That is up from 81% in 2019.
In a 2015 Nielsen survey, 83% of consumers cited word of mouth recommendations, like online reviews, as a critical factor in determining their purchasing decisions. In another study specifically about online reviews, 67% of consumers said online reviews impacted their purchasing decisions. More than half said that online reviews were important to their decision-making process.
With online reviews, as with potato chips, one is never enough. The average consumer reads 10 online reviews before feeling like they can trust a local business. That means to best attract consumers, the top ten public reviews on major review platforms must accurately and positively reflect your business.
Bottom line: a good online presence can make consumers want to buy your product or hire your service. A negative online presence will have prospective clients looking elsewhere.
What is Social Media Reputation Management?
Social media reputation management, like online reputation management, focuses on improving your business’s reputation on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media reputation management typically includes posting brand-centric content, monitoring what social media users say about you or your business, and engaging with those users.
Social media reputation management also includes user-generated content on business review sites (like Yelp or TripAdvisor), listservs, and apps.
Is Managing Your Online Reputation Necessary?
Your online reputation is critical to your professional and personal success. Managing that reputation is increasingly necessary to stay competitive, grow relationships, and even survive as a business.
A digital footprint that reflects poorly on your business will turn customers away. A lack of online presence will cause customers to go to a business that they feel they know more about.
Online reputation management is important for your personal image as well. A negative online personal image can affect your ability to get or maintain a job. It can even affect your personal relationships.
Online reputation management helps you and your business put your best digital footprint forward. It enables you to show the world the picture of yourself (or business) that you want others to see. This, in turn, can lead to greater success, both professionally and personally.
Benefits of Hiring Someone to Track Your Online Reputation
How Do Job Candidates’ Online Reputations Affect Hiring Decisions?
What you put in your public social media profiles (including social media accounts, dating profiles, and online reviews) is available for everybody to see. That includes prospective and current employers.
Roughly 70% of employers Google a prospective candidate before making a hiring decision. If a Google search of you turns up negative information, it is likely your potential employer will see it. And that may affect your ability to get the job.
On the flip side, negative reviews on employee review sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed can have catastrophic effects on a company’s ability to attract and retain employees. For example, a 2016 article by Harvard Business Review found that employers with a negative online reputation spent on average 10% more per hire.
What Can a Business Do to Improve its Online Reputation?
A bad review, or a lack of information about a business, can turn away a potential customer. However, there are countless steps a business can take to improve its online reputation and brand, such as:
- Evaluate your current online reputation and image,
- Become active on social media,
- Claim all business listing profiles,
- Adjust your social media privacy settings,
- Create positive online content,
- Remove or suppress negative content,
- Encourage reviews from clients and customers,
Evaluate Your Current Online Reputation
The easiest way to evaluate your current online reputation is to Google your business. Pay close attention to the first page of results, since the first three results account for over 75.1% of all clicks on Google and most users do not scroll past the 5th result.
What do these results say about your business? Would someone reviewing these results trust your business? Would they want to do business with you? What do you want people to know that is not showing up in your search? What needs to change?
Get Active on Social Media
Customers want to feel like they know who you are and what values your company has. A robust and engaging social media presence can help personalize your company, retain current clients and customers, and obtain new ones.
Increase Your Business’s Visibility
With close to 95% of consumers searching online for their business needs, it is important to show up on search results. In particular, it is important to show up on the first page of search results, since the majority of search engine users rarely navigate beyond the first page.
To increase visibility, make sure to claim your Google My Business Profile. You also need to make sure the information in your business listing is accurate. For instance, make sure the address and phone number associated with the listing are correct.
Encourage reviews from prior customers, since prominence is a big factor in Google’s ranking metrics.
Adjust Your Personal Social Media Privacy Settings
What you post personally can affect what people think about you and your business. Profanity-laced posts, even if they are private, reflect poorly on your professionalism. Similarly, posts espousing a controversial political view or hate-based posts will turn away potential customers.
You can avoid some crossover between what you post and what people see by adjusting your privacy settings on social media. Make sure that your settings are set to “private” to limit the reach of your posts. Anything that you keep public should reflect positively on you and your business.
Create Positive Content
Keep your customers engaged by having an active online presence. Post relevant information to your company’s social media pages. Take it a step further and create a company blog.
A company blog not only shows expertise and gives you content to share on your social media platforms but it can also improve your Google rankings.
Remove or Suppress Negative Content
To the extent you can, remove negative content. If you cannot remove it, try to suppress it. Remember, most potential customers will rarely scroll beyond the first page of Google results.
Encourage Reviews from Clients & Customers
Online reviews are essential to your company’s brand and visibility. Nearly 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations from friends or families. The good news: up to 70% of customers will leave a review if asked. So, ask!
How Does Online Reputation Management Impact Your Business?
A successful online reputation management campaign can bolster your business (and its longevity) in countless tangible ways.
Online Reputation Management Builds Credibility & Trust
A positive online presence lets potential and current customers know that you are a reliable, credible business. It shows that you are established, transparent, and engaged.
Online Reputation Management Reinforces Your Brand
Your brand is how you are viewed as a business. To be viewed as a trustworthy company, you need to have a clear, consistent brand and message. Online reputation management can help promote items consistent with your brand and suppress those that are not.
Online Reputation Management Attracts a Younger Generation
Not having an online presence simply is not a tenable business strategy moving forward. A 2019 study from Pew Research Center showed that 86% of millennials used social media, and 93% owned a smartphone. In comparison, only 59% of Baby Boomers used social media, and 68% owned a smartphone.
You need to attract your younger consumers where they interact most – and that is online.
Online Reputation Management Helps Retain Customers
In addition to attracting customers, online reputation management helps you keep them. A robust online presence, complete with active social media, helps keep your company at the forefront of your customers’ minds. That means it is more likely they will turn to you when your services or products are needed.
Listening to your customers and clients, understanding their expectations and issues, and validating their feedback enables businesses to not only improve customer experience but business as a whole.
Online Reputation Management Drives Business
A Harvard Business Review working paper found that every one-star increase in Yelp ratings leads to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue. Higher placement in Google searches further drives business to your door.
A robust online reputation management strategy can enable businesses to achieve more consistent, higher ratings, and better business search placement.
Online Reputation Management Attracts Strong Employees
Employees want to work for a company that has a strong brand and that treats its employees well. A favorable online presence shows that your company is trusted and has a positive work culture.
Online Reputation Management Improves Search Engine Rankings
Each new online review is treated as new content by Google. It allows Google to obtain more connections between relevant keywords and your business. This means that online reviews can help bolster your online presence.
In fact, online reviews are estimated to make up over 10% of the criteria for how Google ranks its search results.
Online Reputation Management Differentiates Your Business from Competitors
What is it that makes your business unique? A strong online presence helps you tell your story and easily distinguishes you from your competitors.
Online Reputation Management Provides Cost-Free Advertising
With a robust, established online presence, customers can easily find you. A top spot on a Google search page is the best advertising your company can get.
A prevalent and positive online presence can also lead to other customers, advertisers, and influencers sharing your content and promoting your brand.
What is the Most Distinct Advantage of Online Reputation Management?
The most distinct advantage of online reputation management is that it lets you craft the brand image that you want to show your customers. Online reputation management enables you to tell your business’s story the way you want.
Positive reviews and stories that highlight your brand are promoted, and those that conflict with your business’s image are suppressed. This allows you to put forward your best digital footprint and attract customers.
How an Online Reputation Management Service Can Help You or Your Business
As Warren Buffet famously said, it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. The same holds true with your online reputation.
How Can an Online Reputation Management Service Impact Customer Opinions of Your Business?
Up to 94% of consumers say that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business. The flip side is that 92% of consumers are less likely to use a business based on negative reviews.
An online reputation management service can give you and your brand a voice. It helps to highlight the positive and protect your carefully crafted brand reputation. ORM services can also suppress those negative comments that can tank your hard-earned positive reputation. This translates into more loyal customers, dedicated employees, and increased profit.
How to Find a Trustworthy Online Reputation Management Company
Not all reputation management services are created equal. To find a trustworthy online reputation management company or service, we recommend conducting a Google search, seeking out referrals from friends, family, and business partners, and vetting them on your own by keeping the below key factors in mind.
Before hiring a reputation management service, you want to make sure it can do the job. Your chosen firm should have a proven track record of success. Ask for examples of some of the company’s success stories.
Ability to Work Together
It is a good idea to meet with your potential online management team, either in person or remotely, before hiring. This will give you a sense of how well you get along, if your ideals are aligned, and your general comfort level with the crew.
An Action Plan
Ask the potential firm to provide a detailed plan of what services they intend to offer you before sealing the deal. This will give you not only a sense of what they intend to accomplish for you, but also how long it will take. This will also help you budget for the cost of these services.
A Great Reputation
If an online reputation management company has a bad online reputation, that does not speak well to their ability to manage your online presence. A stellar online reputation management company should have an impeccable online presence.
A company that promises you the moon cannot deliver. Online reputation management is neither quick nor easy. If it were, you would not need to hire someone!
Promises of quick results might also reveal that this company uses unapproved, or “black-hat” techniques to manipulate search results. This can quickly damage a good reputation and may even get you banned from some search engines.
Choose a company that is realistic about what they can offer you and their timeline for doing so.
Honesty & Clarity
Online reputation services should be open and transparent, from what they can do for you, to when, to how much it will cost to do it. If the company is being cagey about any of these things, especially online reputation management costs, you should look elsewhere.
What Tools Can You Use for Online Reputation Management?
There are countless online reputation management tools, services, and software that you can implement immediately, even without paying for an online reputation management agency, such as:
Reputation Monitoring Tools
Sign up for free Google Alerts. When your keywords (usually your name or business name) appear online, you will receive an email notification and link to the article, post, or review. Alternative free monitoring tools include Awario and Talkwalker Alerts.
Social Media “Buzz” Tools
Google searches usually do not capture social media mentions. Tools like Mention and Sprout Social help track social media hits. They can also help you manage your online strategy.
Review Solicitation Tools
You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave you online reviews. Services like ReviewInc and Birdeye help expedite the review process and allow you to collect more reviews.
Review Management Tools
If you are ready for something more than review solicitation, consider using a customer engagement kit that helps you manage your reviews and communicate with your clients. Reputable companies include Swell and Podium.
Search Engine Optimization Tools
Many companies are dedicated to helping improve companies’ search rankings. Tried and true companies include Ahrefs, Moz, and Website Grader by HubSpot.
Social Media Management Tools
Keeping an active social media presence can be exhausting. You can schedule posts in advance, and get insights into what to post, using tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Sprout.
Web Content & Research Tools
Not sure what to Tweet about next? Stay in the know on trending content with sites like Exploding Topics, Buzzsumo, and SEMrush.
Digital Risk Protection Tools
Unexpected digital threats such as account takeovers, website hacks, and sensitive data leakage can devastating damage to your business’s good reputation and longevity.
Digital risk protection services enable you to monitor, identify, prevent, eliminate, and respond to digital threats in real-time, giving you and your brand peace of mind 24/7.
What Online Reputation Management Strategies Can You Implement on Your Own?
There are numerous steps that you can implement on your own to protect and enhance your online reputation without the aid of online tools.
Audit Your Online Review Profiles & Reviews
You cannot respond to a negative review if you do not know they exist. While using online reputation management tools is the most streamlined way to see what is being said about your business, you can also search on your own.
Try both Googling your business name and checking the most popular review platforms, including Yelp, Google Maps, and Facebook.
Devise a Response Plan For Your Reviews
Think about who within your organization will monitor and respond to reviews and how to determine whether or when a comment will require a response.
Respond to Customer Feedback Professionally
While it can be tempting to fire back at an unearned one-star review, or just ignore it, it is important to respond to reviews in a polite, professional manner. You should also consider responding to positive reviews with heartfelt thanks.
71% of respondents in a Bazaarvoice survey stated that a brand’s response to an online comment changes their perception of a brand – while nearly 90% of customers noted they were more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience.
Provide Stellar Customer Service
One way to avoid negative online reviews is to provide excellent customer service. If your customers like you, they are more likely to leave you a positive review – and less likely to leave a negative one!
Ask For Feedback From Clients
Solicit positive reviews from your clients, particularly when you have had one-on-one contact with the client. Let them know how much you appreciate the effort.
Protect Your Business’s Online Reputation With Experienced ORM Attorneys Today
If you are ready to see how online reputation management services can improve your business, we at Minc Law can help. We will work with you to understand your needs and identify an online reputation management strategy that best suits your business.
“Minc Law did an outstanding job on our case, particularly Daniel and his team. They guided us through the entire process of unveiling the individual who was defaming our business online, and then all the way through to getting a satisfactory settlement. They always returned calls and offered sound advice for whatever came up during our case. If I ever need these types of services again, I will definitely go to them first.”
Jason Moore, May 12, 2021
We can also discuss with you whether negative online reviews or comments may be legally actionable and explore removal options.
To schedule a consultation with the online reputation lawyers of Minc law, call (216)-373-7706 or fill out our online contact form.