[Today’s guest post comes from freelance blogger Stephanie Marbukh.]
What do consumers find when they search for your business on the Internet? Whether you are just starting out or have an established company, your online reputation is an important factor in gaining new customers and keeping existing ones.
Unfortunately, many companies don’t realize the importance of reputation management until it’s too late and the damage has already been done. Follow the tips below to repair your brand’s online reputation.
Address the Issue
When your brand’s reputation has been damaged, ignoring the issue will only cause rumors to spread and the problem to worsen. Be upfront with your customers; speak up and acknowledge the problem with a notice on your company’s website or posts on your related social media sites. This will reassure your loyal customers that you are working to resolve the issue and show potential customers that you care about both your brand and your clients.
Once you’ve publicly acknowledged the harmful information about your company, apologize to your customers for any misunderstanding or inconvenience. This is especially important if your company’s reputation has been damaged by the words or actions of one of your current or former employees.
Since your online reputation also reflects on your business partners, reach out to any companies that you work with to apologize and assure them that you’re working quickly to resolve the problem.
Respond to Negative Comments
When you encounter less-than-stellar remarks in the comments section of your business website or in posts on independent sites, respond quickly. Make sure that your reply is positive and offers solutions rather than excuses. In many cases, negative comments come from customers who feel that the company is not paying attention to their needs or concerns.
Ask for Help
If your brand’s reputation has been tainted by unfairly negative or untruthful comments, see what you can do to have the statements removed. Speak directly with site administrators and blog owners to explain why you think the post is undeserved; many of them want to maintain their own reputations and will quickly take down a post that is slanderous.
Consumer ratings sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List regularly patrol their pages for reviews that appear to be false or malicious, and some sites even allow business owners to dispute posts and have them removed.
Drown Out the Negative
In cases where you can’t remove harmful material from the internet, drown it out with positive information about your business. Regularly post fresh content such as new products, announcements, and special promotions, and ask regular customers to write positive testimonials and reviews.
Also, use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to increase your site’s search engine results rankings and ensure that consumers find your content first when they do a preliminary internet search.
Call in the Professionals
One way to protect your brand’s good standing is to invest in the services of a reputation management company, such as Reputation.com. For a fee, these reputation management companies monitor the internet and alert you when they find damaging information. They can even help you improve your reputation by moving harmful material farther down in search engine rankings and away from your customers’ eyes.
Once you repair the initial damage done to your brand’s reputation, stay on the lookout for other potentially harmful information on the internet. Monitor your website, social media pages, and related sites on a regular basis, and address small issues before they turn into bigger problems. Make sure that you check out what customers are saying about you on consumer review sites, and use programs such as Google alerts or Yahoo! alerts to notify you when your company’s name is mentioned anywhere on the internet.
While you can’t prevent an unhappy customer or unscrupulous competitor from posting harmful information about your company on the internet, you can take steps to minimize the effects.
About the Author:
Stephanie Marbukh is a freelance blogger who writes about topics such as reputation management and SEO techniques.