To compete in the marketplace, nowadays, you have to be able to manage your company’s online reputation. It’s a field of study that is always growing, but there are some points that are basic.
In this article we explore the most important ones.
Your own company name is your most important keyword phrase. A search engine will see your site as the ultimate authority on your company. Ranking relies on the authority of a subject. If your company name is used to optimize more than one of the pages on your site, you’ll push your own company further up the rankings, if not to the top. This is significant, especially if there are sites with negative content about your company. So make sure your company name is used in the HTML Title and URL, especially on the ABOUT US and CONTACT US pages.
The whole point of marketing on the internet is to make sure you occupy as many of the top slots as possible, when a prospective customer does a search. Not only does it portray your company as a leader in your field, it will work to push competitors and detractors down, and make them less visible. You can’t really delete bad reviews and contrary information about you, and your company, but you can at least control where you end up in a web search.
One of the best ways to ensure that you end up in most of the top spots in a search is to fully utilize other sites that search engines, such as Google, see as credible sources, or authorities. These sites would be Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+. Fully utilize these social network sites, making sure that your company name and information is featured in the best possible light. Make sure you update and add content and information on these sites. The more original and unique your content is, the better.
There isn’t a company that has been able to capture every slot on the first page of a search, no matter how big they are. Not even Apple, or Coke, can do that, but they are able to dominate the top ten. To be able to control the whole first page of a search, a company would have to have a name so unique that nothing else on the internet has a name of that sort, or anything similar. That would seem almost impossible.
Patrick Ambron, CEO and founder of BRAND YOURSELF, says that LinkedIn has become the most important social network for businesses. Your profile on LinkedIn will get you higher rankings. If you don’t have the time or money to manage all your social sites, regularly, at least keep your LinkedIn page current. You shouldn’t actually neglect any of the big social media sites, but if you have to narrow your focus, LinkedIn should be a priority.
Anchor Text is a hyperlink, or blue underlined phrase, that when clicked takes you to another web site. Linking in this way to other web sites can improve your search rankings. But, make sure that all your Anchor Text phrases are different. Google will move you down the search ladder if all your Anchor Texts use the same phrase. So, partnering up with other sites that complement your business can be a very good thing, and can lead to a symbiotic relationship that can optimize each other’s searches.
Regularly Google search your company name, so you can see where you land. Rankings change very often. But, remember to go a few pages back, as links you may not want could make their way up to page one. You want to maintain your dominance of the first page, so be vigilant.
If negative content does wind up on the first page, you can always contact the originator of that content. Ask them point-blank, but in a polite and professional manner, how you can change their mind about you, or your company. If you can’t change their mind, at least comment on their page, if that’s an option, to relate your own view point. Tell how you will, or could make up for your mistake, and how your company gives exceptional service.
Make sure you keep up good service, in the real world, and treat all your customers with the best possible attitude. Any disgruntled customer you have could end up leaving a bad review. The opposite also happens. A customer that is treated well, and loves the service you gave them will be much more inclined to give your company a glowing review, and thus enhance your reputation.
Press releases can also help you rank highly on Google. Send them out regularly, but make sure they are informative, unique, and relevant. Tell what your company is doing, or will be doing. Any time you provide a service or product, there is someone looking for what you are offering.
Wikipedia entries almost always land in the top five search results. You can’t write your own entry, or change it, if it contains negative or untrue content, but you can get help. Search the wiki pages for help on how to change bad content. Read through Wikipedia’s guidelines.
When you get involved in changing, and upgrading the reputation of your company, you have to be realistic. It could take time to get you into the top ten slots of a search. If you have a lot of negative content that comes up near the top of a search, it could take a year or more to move it off the first page. You have to work at it, and make sure there is a lot of good, natural, informative content about your company on the internet that will come up.
Google Analytics, iWeb Tools, and other sites can help you analyze and monitor what is being written about your company. There are many SEO and Reputation companies that can also help.
You have to constantly clean up and refine your keywords and incoming links. These are two of the most important factors in helping customers find your company in the web. If customers can’t find your company, it doesn’t’ matter how good your reputation is. When you build you brand, you have to be very aware of what keywords your demographic searches for.
Be sure to install a Social Media Newsroom (SMNR) on your website. It raises your search rankings, and allows you to organize all your media on one page. This will also allow you to increase your searchable content with blogs, comments, announcements, news, or anything else. You can also link to other authoritative sites, such as YouTube, where you can post an instructional video.
Social Media management sites, such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck help you keep track of tweets or posts about your company on Twitter, Facebook, or even RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. These management sites can help you direct your attention to content that needs to be counteracted. It will also help you see when good things are posted about you, and you can showcase them, or link to the sites that carry them.
You also have to create your own good will. The executives and key employees of your company can be spotlighted, as they do things that help their communities. Pictures and videos on your social sites are invaluable as promotion.
Contests and giveaways are great attention –getters on social media. They are also great content for Press Releases, and earn you clicks that add up to higher rankings.
You can’t just promote your company with statements about what it’s doing. It won’t increase your rankings, and people will get bored reading them. You need to engage your public. You need to ask them questions and be open to acknowledging them, and even thanking them for negative constructive criticism.
One of the most important things a company can do is to get involved in its on-line and real-life communities. Whether it’s participating in community projects, or becoming involved in blogs and forums that relate to your company, these things generate content from sources outside your company. Good deeds irl, and online, add up to good reviews and kudos that enhance your web presence.
The more people in your own company that you can get involved in the conversation, the better. If customers think that all the employees of a company care, that company becomes more attractive to them. It also increases your internet presence with unique and natural content.
People get the vast majority of their information on the internet. They even turn to social media sites for news, and instruction. If you don’t have a social media presence, you can become invisible to a huge section of the population. Almost everyone checks out companies they deal with on line, before contacting them. If you have an amazing social media presence, you ensure yourself new customers, and returning ones. People also get involved via social media. It is much easier to interact that way, rather than in person. The better your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or any other page, the more likely you are to have interaction with your customers.
As you build your brand, some customers will become loyal and even fans of your business. You can showcase these good customers and highlight the good words they say about you. Good reviews add up to fresh, unique content, and greatly increase you search rankings. You can encourage your customers to give you favorable reviews by providing them with links so they can do it easily. But, be careful because fraudulent reviews can decrease your rating, as search engines know this trick. It will also turn off your smarter potential customers.
So, there you have the most important things you can do to manage your reputation.