Let’s face it – we google everything now. Whether we are looking to find a service, a date, information about someone we’re set to go a date with, a definition, a recipe, this list can go on and on and on - the fact is we live in a search-happy world.
The point is, as a business owner – regardless of your industry - your company’s website and your brand’s online reputation is pertinent to your business’ success. When someone goes to research your company online, you want the results that show up to be in favour of your company. To achieve this, you’ll want to manage your online reputation by creating easily searchable content that lends credibility to your business.
You'll want to make sure you're doing the following to protect your company’s online reputation:
For many businesses, their website is the first interaction potential customers will have with their brand. You want to make sure that this first impression is a great one. That means having the basics in place, like a great web design, your contact information is easily accessible and your product or service offerings are clearly and succinctly stated.
Your website should be easy to navigate and follow best practice UX web design principles. In addition, you want all the information on your website to be up to date, such that when someone goes to call your office to inquire further – they call the right number. Don’t forget to change your contact information if your office makes a move! This is so important for your local SEO efforts.
You also want the design of your website to be in keeping with the times. Outdated sites, look outdated and for some people indicate that the business is either lazy or doesn’t care about its online reputation – which makes you second guess if they care about how they do business. Your website must be mobile responsive if you want it to show up in mobile-first results also. And with mobile searches surpassing desktop searches, to not have a mobile friendly layout for your company website is just plain bad for business.
A super effective way to ensure that your website remains up to date is by creating a company blog and committing to a regular posting schedule. Not only will a blog help increase your visibility in search engines (woo hoo – SEO!) but it can also be a valuable resource for your customers.
By producing useful and helpful content, you engage with your existing and potential customers on a level that goes beyond just selling stuff. You provide additional value to your audience by sharing your expertise and in turn, gain more credibility as an industry leader.
The more posts you publish, the more web pages search engines will be able to index from your website and in turn, the more likely your website will show up in search engine results. By covering a wide array of topics in your industry, you are also able to gain more traffic through various search queries beyond just your company name or service. Google likes to see that sites are maintained and remain active – and by creating a blog and committing to a publishing schedule you take a proactive approach to ensuring your site is updated regularly.
There are numerous websites that are strictly devoted to compiling user reviews - RateMD’s, Travel Advisor, Rate My Professor, Total Beauty, Yelp, Zomato, etc. The point is – people are increasingly taking to the web to voice their opinions about businesses by leaving reviews and at the same time, researching online what others have to say about services and products through online reviews.
Online reviews allow people who are contemplating doing business with your company, to see how others who have paid for your product or service feel about the transaction after the fact. Clearly, a good review will only come from doing good business and that means being kind and respectful to your customers both online and offline.
This also highlights the importance of asking your clients and customers to leave reviews when they’ve been happy with your service. Don’t be shy about it, you have to ask to receive. Bad reviews are easier to give in some people’s minds because their anger propels them to seek revenge any means they can and if that means getting online to write something mean – they will.
Because the internet is an online forum that is public, managing one’s online reputation is essential and that begins with paying attention to the reviews of your business that are out there. If you do receive a bad review, respond with grace and address the concern accordingly. Granted, we know there are people out there that just troll the internet looking to be mean – in that case, just remember that an accumulation of good reviews will outweigh that one bad review.
While we understand that maintaining multiple social networks takes time and work – we still advocate that you claim your brand’s space on social networks. If you do not have the resources or the time to be active on social media – that is fine. Just set up your profile and leave it. Posting sporadically and infrequently looks worse than just setting up your profile without posting. But do optimize your social profile and max out the information you do provide. Don’t just leave your twitter profile with the egg head!
By claiming your space on social networks you at least guarantee that the space is your company’s own and does not get claimed by a business with a similar name that offers a different service. By securing your identity online, you then have the option to pursue growing your social network presence or not. In addition, most social networks have search features within them and if your business is there, you will show up when someone searches for you within the network.
By actively making an effort to manage your company’s online reputation, you safeguard your business so that when you do get searched for on the web, the search results are flattering, favoring and help your business flourish.