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Managing Your Online Reputation

By Glenn Cowan

It's fair to say that more business than ever is conducted online. People use Google and the other search engines as a matter of course. In fact, the term “search for” has been replaced with “Google it”. With this in mind, if you are running any sort of online business then you need a really good reputation. Without it, potential new customers might go… elsewhere.

The same applies if you are a traditional bricks and mortar outlet. Even when potential buyers visit a store it is very likely that they will conduct an element of search verification before concluding their purchase. They might be searching for validation on the item that they are going to buy, the brand that they are looking to deal with, or both!

Brand Signals

Typing a business name into Google is likely to show a series of results.

In most cases your business website will be shown at the top of the listings as this is deemed to be the most relevant result that Google can offer. After that, you are likely to see other listings that in some way are connected to that business.

Sometimes you will see competitors shown in these results. These are trying to “ride on the back” of your success and can present a real risk to your business. At other times you might see social media platforms for your business. Assuming that you have created them and they are optimized properly. Often you will see a 3rd party’s review showing up in the front page of results. Bear in mind that there are 10 organic search results shown, so it’s very likely that you will see a mixture of the above.

In some cases you might even see some bad reviews or negative press on “consumer review” type websites. These have seen a growth in recent times and pose a real risk to your brand (more on this later).

Responding to Reviews

As a business it's likely that you will operate one or more social channels. These might include Facebook, Google my Business etc, etc.

While social media is generally a good thing for your business it can also represent a risk.

The review areas can be accessed by anyone and (believe it or not) people will sometimes leave damaging reviews even if they have never ever been a customer of that business. Sadly these are two of the main drawbacks to having reviews on both Facebook and Google my Business.The takeaway here is to keep a keen eye on what’s going on!

Dealing with Negative Posts / Reviews

Very often businesses that get a negative review on social media will “ignore it”. This in itself is very bad practice.The best mindset to have is that you are looking to provide an answer to each and every review that you get. Whether it is good or bad it should make no difference.

The reality is that when you respond to a bad review you are telling other potential customers your part of the story.

It’s fair to say that sometimes things do go wrong - even in the best of businesses. The measurement is how you respond and deal with issues when they arise.When you get a positive review you should also take the time to thank the person for leaving the review. After all, they have taking time out of their busy schedule for you!

Repairing Damage

If as we looked at earlier you are unlucky enough to have a negative post on another website, then there are a number of steps you can / should take. Firstly, if the review is just then you should be looking to respond in a professional way. Unfortunately, there are many sites that simply don’t allow a right of response.It might be that your reviewer has left something that just isn’t factual, or could even be classed as slander. In these cases you will want to approach the “review website” to ask them to take down the post. Sadly, many of these review sites are not interested in helping as they “earn their living” from publishing bad news.

It should be noted that Google my Business has recently changed its stance on reviews left by ex-employees. They will now allow you to submit a “removal” request as they have acknowledged that it could constitute a conflict of interest.

If you come up against a brick wall and simply cannot get bad reviews removed then there are still things you can do. Remember, these reviews generally are only shown when someone searches for your “brand name”.

Harnessing the Power of Social Media

One highly effective way to create a stronger band presence is to use relevant social media channels that suit your business. These might include the following:

  • Twitter

  • LinkedIn

  • Pinterest

  • YouTube

  • Instagram

There are others, but the ones above tend to be the main ones that people are familiar with.

Setting up and managing (properly) some of the social channels above will greatly assist your brand and it is very likely that when someone searches for your business these are shown above anything negative.

Even though you haven’t removed the negative reviews you have managed to push them further down the front page of Google. As a direct result of this less people will find them and they in-turn become less relevant.

If you have had an issue with brand reputation and want to do something about it why not drop me a line - glenncowan@voovagroup.com.

Alternatively, get in touch if there is a specific area of digital marketing that you would like me to cover in the near future - it would be great to hear from you!