Your company’s online reputation is everything. Most of your potential customers cannot see you or meet your staff, and they cannot talk to business leaders or local community members who can recommend your products or services. They can Google you, though, and what comes up in search results will likely influence their perception of you and your company.
If they see positive content, they will likely stick around and check out what you have to offer. If they do not like what they see (or don’t see anything at all) on the first page of Google search results, chances are they will scratch you off their list and take their business elsewhere. So, what can you do to protect your company’s online reputation from negativity?
I had the pleasure of speaking to Anthony Will, an online reputation management expert, and CEO of Reputation Resolutions – a leading online reputation management company that has helped thousands of companies repair, protect, and manage their reputation online. Below are 7 tips and strategies Anthony recommends implementing to start protecting your online reputation for long-term success in the digital age.
- Buy the right domain names.
Even if you already own the domain for your company, think about buying related domain names that are critical or negative in nature (e.g., yourcompanysucks.com), then purchase and maintain those domains to keep them away from disgruntled employees, unhappy customers, and others who could do your company harm.
- Be vigilant and analyze your company’s search results.
You cannot safeguard your online reputation if you don’t know what Google says about you, so take the time to see what your customers are saying and where they’re saying it. At the very least, set up Google Alerts for your company name and perform an audit of your Google search results to identify any harmful or negative content that may be damaging your company’s reputation.
- React and respond to negative reviews.
As you analyze your company’s Google search results, you may come across something you do not like. If a negative review is discovered, take proactive measures to either remove the negative review (which is oftentimes possible) or have your happy customers leave new reviews to counteract the negativity. If you can’t remove a negative review, respond to it. How you respond to the negative review will play a significant role in how potential clients perceive your company and your brand. Even if you think the criticism is unwarranted, always respond professionally and address the customer’s concerns.
- Set up profiles on social media platforms.
Social media sites can be your best friend when managing your online reputation, so take advantage of the opportunity. Historically, social media profiles rank highly in Google search results when optimized properly, so the profiles can help prevent any current or future negative content from harming your company brand.
- Act fast to counter incorrect or negative information.
Ignoring negative information about your company and its products/services will not make those negative comments go away. This is a common misconception. Rather, negative content has a tendency to quickly outrank your company’s web properties due to Google’s negativity bias. Failing to address the issue will give those negative search results or comments more weight over time – so take action, or you risk having a tarnished reputation that is difficult to fix.
- Showcase your expertise.
You are an expert in your business field, so do not be shy about sharing what you know. Post case studies to your LinkedIn profile, share professional articles you write on social media and guest blog. The expertise you demonstrate can enhance and protect your online reputation in search results.
- Leverage your happy customers.
Unhappy customers tend to be louder, but happy customers are more plentiful. You can harness the power of your satisfied customers to mitigate the damage of any negative reviews that exist and to protect your company’s online reputation. Simply start by reaching out to your previous customers and ask them if they would be willing to leave feedback about their experience with your company. If they are, provide them with a link to the most visible review profiles that your prospective customers will see.
In the online world, you are only as good as your brand reputation on Google. How you handle your company’s online reputation can make or break your business, and protecting your reputation should be a top priority.