Ultimate Guide to Online Reputation Management
The internet is full of misinformation, but an active online reputation management strategy can protect your brand from being tarnished.
Online reputation management (also referred to as ORM) is an important strategy to include in your digital marketing tool box.
In this guide we’ll discuss:
- What is online reputation management?
- How to monitor your online reputation
- How to influence online reputation
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management is the process of owning the digital narrative on your brand to ensure you’re represented fairly when searchers are looking for you.
To own this narrative, you’ll need to actively keep a pulse on the information being said about your brand on the internet. Pay special attention to negative or false mentions of your brand so that you can react to them in a timely manner.
Why is Online Reputation Management Important?
Word of mouth has always been one of the strongest forms of marketing. And in the digital age, consumers don’t only survey their friends and family when they’re making a decision. Thanks to a little thing called the internet, they have access to opinions across the world.
1) It influences purchasing decisions
Those opinions, especially the negative ones, can be the deciding factor in whether a prospective customer opts for your product or your competitors.
For example, if I’m looking for pizza (which I often am), the reviews in the local search results are going to influence my decision on which pizza place to order from (especially if they’re all around the same cost).
2) It can influence investor decisions
Although not the focus of this guide, it’s worth mentioning that if a company is publicly traded, meaning that it has a stock available for purchase on a stock exchange, brand perception can influence both existing and potential investors’ decisions.
For example, if an investor were looking for information on Planet Fitness stocks and searched for “PLNT” (their ticker symbol), they’d see the following search results that could influence their perception of the stock and guide their research.
How to Monitor Your Online Reputation
Some of our free favorites ways to keep tabs on what people are saying about your brand include:
- Google Alerts
- Online reviews
- Third-party review sites
- Google My Business
- Social Media
- Search Engine Results Pages
Monitoring when new content is published is one of many applications of Google Alerts. When you set up a Google Alert, you’ll get a notification sent to your inbox if a new article is published about your brand - good, bad, or indifferent. This gives you a chance to see the latest people are publishing about your brand and a chance to respond quickly.
You may be thinking “easier said than done, there are so many hours in a day!” but you can focus the amount of review sites into a manageable list by focusing on the most impactful (i.e. the ones prospective customers are most likely to see).
Focus on the most important review sites to avoid biting off more than you can chew.
Which review sites should you focus on for Online Brand Management?
Simple! The sites that are ranking on page 1 for your brand + “reviews” keywords.
For example, if we were doing this exercise for Tito’s Vodka a prospective customer may search “tito’s vodka reviews.” Off the bat, there are a few sites that we could prioritize, such as the ones that own answer boxes (flaviar.com and spriritsreview.com), the top ranking organic listings (like businessinsider.com), and the videos that are appearing in the results.
How to tell if forums are relevant to your brand
Before going down a rabbit hole in Reddit or Quora, consider testing whether there is search interest in your brand name + “reddit” or “quora.”
Two options for testing:
- Is it a forum modifier being auto-suggested by Google?
- Is your brand + “reddit” or “quora” appearing in related searches when you look for your brand?
For example, if the brand is Brilliant Earth. The branded search identifies the following related searches (one of which is “Brilliant Earth Reddit”).
Either of these is a good indicator that people are talking about your brand on a forum - indicating an area of opportunity for exploration.
Google My Business
For Google My Business to be a viable option, you’ll need a Google My Business Listing. Google My Business is available to businesses that have a physical location that customers can visit or that travel to visit customers where they are.
This is a great way to get a pulse on what customers are asking or reviewing. Google My Business listings include not only Google Reviews but Questions & Answers. This is a great way to collect feedback and respond to customer concerns.
Social Media is the modern equivalent of Speakers’ Corner in London. It’s a place where everyone can air their grievances to your brand’s audience.
Keep an eye out for negative comments, tweets, and posts. This negative feedback can be an opportunity to have a two-way conversation and exercise your customer service skills.
Search Engine Results Pages
Elements on a search engine result page can help brands understand larger trends in the questions people are searching for related to their brand through People Also Ask (PAA) results.
For example, if your brand is “Blue Nile” and you search for your brand on Google, you’ll see that there are common questions surrounding the validity of your business and products. These types of questions can help determine the types of content that a brand should publish to own the answers.
How to Influence Online Reputation
1) Increase number of positive reviews
Encourage people who have used your products or services to leave a review, especially if they’ve had a positive experience. After all, a consumer is 21% more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one.
2) Treat reviews like a two-way conversation
If someone leaves a review on your website, Google My Business listing, or Social Media Profile respond!
This is your opportunity to clear the air and not only turn a negative experience into a positive one for your unhappy customer, but it shows prospective customers if something goes wrong that you have their back (building trust).
Comcast’s Twitter account, @ComcastCares is a great example of how to respond to unhappy customers on Twitter.
When responding to customer complaints, it’s important to lead with empathy and offer them a path to resolution.
3) Use reviews to enhance your online presence
Listen to what your customers are saying! Consider their reviews as constructive criticism. Some ways you can leverage their feedback:
- Look for any gaps in the customer experience that your customers identify - For example, if you’re a hair dye company and you received feedback that people were dying their hair and expecting it to look differently, you may want to consider adding information about how the dye looks on different-colored hair.
- If a negative review is outdated and you have corrected this issue, consider including this information on your site - For example, if you’re a resort and someone complained about your food in 2018 and you revamped your menu - promote it!
This is a great way to contradict negative reviews and show that you’re listening to customer concerns.
4) Invite customers to leave feedback directly on your site
63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has user reviews.
This is an excellent way to garner trust with customers while browsing the site. These reviews can also be marked up with Schema and appear in search engine results pages to make your brand’s organic listing more attractive to searchers.
For example, if I’m searching for “dusty rose bridesmaid dresses,” the listing below from JJs House provides me with a lot more information than the other organic listings.
Test how Review Schema Markup influences your click-through-rate. Consider testing this on your site with a few product pages and seeing how it impacts click-through-rate before deciding to implement it across your site.
5) Answer customer questions directly
Creating dedicated content on the site can help answer prospective questions, and ensure that third party sources aren’t owning the conversation.
When you leave the third party to answer questions about your brand, you open up the door for inaccurate information.
Going back to our Blue Nile example, it may be helpful for them to create a page that explains how they’re able to sell real diamonds for such affordable prices rather than let others tell their story.
In addition to on-site changes, if you have a Google My Business listing, you can answer questions asked by real people directly.
Online Reputation Management: An Exciting Opportunity
Mitigate the risk of spreading misinformation about your brand with an online strategy for reputation management. This will make it easier for you to ensure that your brand is reasonably portrayed while potential consumers browse for your goods or services.