With buying decisions relying on online sources more than ever before, your brand’s online reputation is something that simply can’t be ignored.
The reputation of your brand online can be a complex thing to manage with many different considerations including communications channels, review, branding and content creation elements that you must consider. Let’s explore how you can get started.
What is online reputation management (ORM)?
Online reputation management (ORM) or digital reputation management is the online component of your brand’s reputation. These are processes of monitoring and managing how your target audience perceives your business online and taking strategic action when necessary to improve your brand’s image.
ORM techniques also apply to the reputation of individual business leaders because they are seen to represent the brand.
We recommend that our clients follow the PESO model which encompasses all of the important areas of ORM. This model takes in all important forms of media that are relevant to marketing and PR and combines them in an easy-to-follow framework.
P is for Paid Media. Paid media covers any advertising that you pay for. TV and radio
E is for Earned Media. Earned media covers third party endorsements – mentions of an individual or brand that you don’t pay for, but you have to work hard to get.
S is for Shared Media. Shared media refers to references of an individual or brand on social media. These can be positive or negative and require monitoring.
O is for Owned Media. Owned media covers all content owned by a brand or an individual.
In basic terms, online reputation management has a direct effect on a business’s bottom line with regard to sales and revenue.
INFLUENCing BUYING DECISIONS
More consumers are using search engines like Google before making a purchase than ever before. According to BrightLocal, in 2021, 81% of consumers they surveyed did. This means that your brand’s online sentiment could be a make or break.
THE ONLINE version OF WORD-OF-MOUTH
Consumers are also relying on online reviews to vet your business more than in previous years. Positive reviews can improve business and negative comments can severely damage it. In 2021, the same BrightLocal survey as above found that 77% of consumers ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read them when browsing for local businesses.
Additionally, 89% of consumers are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews. So, tardy responses could affect your bottom line.
Online reviews can offer you something very valuable – feedback on your products or services. This customer feedback can be used to make changes to your offering if needed.
1. SEO AND SERP MANAGEMENT
SEO is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results – called a search engine results page (SERP) – returned by a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo. Each brand will have a list of branded keywords; words or phrases people search for that include your website’s brand name or variations of it.
Your main goal is to show up on the SERPs for your branded keywords. The best way to get there is to have a website that ranks highly. The second way to get there is by other sites discussing your brand online.
It’s unlikely that you will be able to fill the SERP with content that you control. Here are some ways you can influence the competing content in the SERP, or earned media:
1. Define your brand keywords
Using an SEO tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs, you can search for your website and determine what your brand keywords are. These tools will do this by filtering them out from all of the keywords your site currently ranks for.
2. Manage negative content
If there is some negative content ranking for your branded keyword, you could try to contact whoever owns the site, or whoever wrote the article and ask them to change it. For this to work, you must be polite and inoffensive and offer detailed reasoning on why they should do this.
For example, if the content is a blog article giving your product or service a negative review, you could outline what changes you have made to improve it since then.
3. Rank for branded keywords with your own content
It is possible to essentially push the competitor’s content down the SERP – and ensure that less people will see it – if you can outrank them for a brand keyword. This is called SERP management.
To do this, you will need to identify the relevant brand keyword, analyse the competitor’s content, ensure that yours is of higher quality, and perhaps do some link building to the page.
2. MANAGing REVIEWS EFFECTIVELY
Depending on the size of your business and the number of customers and reviews you receive, managing your reviews may be quite a complex job. To simplify things, here are our top tips:
· Track your reviews across all channels using an online review management platform
· Encourage positive reviews at every opportunity
· Respond to negative reviews promptly and with empathy
· Own up to your mistakes and present a solution to the consumer.
Make a feature of your positive reviews to showcase your products and services. Place them on services pages, product pages, transactional pages or landing pages for best results.
3. LEVERAGing PR
PR services can be a useful tool to improve online sentiment about your brand and to push negative content down in SERPs. There are two main components to this:
· Securing press coverage in the right publications at the right time with high-quality campaigns and media outreach.
· Responding to negative press with statements to give your side of the story.
If you do not have an in-house press team, we recommend working with a PR agency to use the right strategy and tactics to meet your goals.
BEST ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Effective online reputation management is a complex job. Fortunately, there are online tools such as review management software and brand perception monitoring tools which can speed things up and make sure no stone is left unturned.
Google Alerts, Buzzsumo, Brand Watch, Meltwater and Semrush are some of the tools utlites by ORM professionals for maximum results. Like any tools, of any trade, they are most effective when in the hands of an expert.
Online reputation management is constantly evolving as digital channels grow and change. To ensure business success, your online reputation has to be cultivated, maintained and monitored constantly.