Have you considered your online reputation?

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Manage your brand and the reputation of your organisation.

With the Internet offering a platform for everyone and anyone to leave their comments and feedback about anything they choose, it’s no surprise that companies are now realising the importance of monitoring what is being said about them, their brands, their products/services and their employees. Consumers make buying decisions based on the information that is available online and even if they actually buy offline, they often use the Internet to gather information, reviews and an opinion of the product or service they’re buying and the company that they’re buying it from.

The combination of today’s competitive marketplace and the explosion in consumer generated content means that information posted on blogs, forums, social networking sites, message boards and industry news sites is quickly indexed by search engines. If those sites are already ranked by the search engines as reliable sources of information, these opinions can appear high up in the search results, giving them the opportunity to influence your (potential) customers. Only by listening to what is being said about you, can you take action to resolve any problems, deal with malicious information and manage the reputation of your brand and organisation.

So what do you need to monitor?

You need to monitor your brand(s), products/services, company and key executives as well as news sites, social media tags, standard search results across the main search engines, blogs and forums.

You also need to monitor how your organisation operates. The important point to make about reputation is that a positive one has to be earned. It is the sum of what you do, in addition to what other people are saying about you so if what you do is dishonest, don’t be surprised when people decide to expose you.

Where can you monitor these?

There are a number of tools available to help you to monitor what is being said about you. Some of these include (but are in no way limited to); Google alerts; Yahoo alerts; Yahoo, Google & Bing; news sites; social media via tags (keotag.com) and Boardtracker.

Optimising is the most effective preventative measure and is highly recommended, however, reactive optimisation for displacing negative results is usually what companies are looking for at the point when they decide that managing their online reputation is important! You need to consider your reputation before something goes wrong!

Proactive online reputation management is by far the best way to build a positive reputation and it not only involves ensuring that the Internet is full of positive comments about your company and brand, it also involves managing every aspect of your organisation in a positive, consumer-friendly manner.

By monitoring what kinds of interactions customers are having with your brand you are able to identify and deal with any negative situation quickly. At the same time, if all new digital content is optimised then the more diluted any negative comments will be.

Treat the symptoms

Companies that wish to protect their brand visibility on the web should consider optimising every digital communication that leaves the organisation including marketing, PR, HR and related electronic content that is publicly available on the Internet as well as social media: text, images, audio and video so that more of the optimised content appears in the search engine results.

Dealing with negative publicity

One bad online review or blog post can quickly ruin a company’s reputation if goes unnoticed and unanswered and once you start monitoring what people are saying about you, you might find inaccuracies or incomplete statements. The best way to respond is to follow these 5 simple steps:

  1. Research the situation, what is the likely impact going to be?
  2. If what has been said is not true, produce optimised content that bears the facts
  3. If what is said is true, offer to discuss
  4. Be ready to respond with your own blog
  5. Be honest, transparent and listen

Google loves fresh content so if you want to get high up in the search results, make sure you update your blog/online material regularly. As long as you keep the search phrases you want Google to find in the forefront, the chances are you will find yourself closer to the top of the results.

Social media sites also offer vast opportunities for generating positive content and most offer the added bonus of high search engine visibility. Flickr, YouTube, Digg, Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia are the most highly recognised social media sites and due to search engines regarding them as high-authority sites, they often appear high up in search results. By emphasising key phrases and interlinking these profiles with blog posts, your website and any other positive online content with acceptable anchor text, you can help to push other pages to the top of the search engine results.

In this article I’ve given an outline of the kind of things you need to consider when attempting to manage your reputation online. For help with planning and implementing your strategy, please get in touch with M4 Marketing where I will be happy to go through these points in more detail, enabling you get the most from your online presence.