What’s harder: Repairing an offline reputation or an online reputation?
Because everything posted on the internet can be accessed forever, it’s more challenging to undergo online reputation repair. Reputation is all about trust, and only 22% of brands are trusted. If you can earn consumers’ trust, your brand can be ahead of the game.
There are multiple ways your online reputation can take a hit. We’ll cover them in this guide. Then, we’ll take you through six tactics you can engage in to build trust, repairing your online reputation.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this practice.
Online Reputation Repair: Why You Need It
If your online reputation hasn’t taken a hit, you might wonder why you even need this guide. The short answer to this question is: The best offense is a strong defense. In other words, by boosting your online reputation before it takes a hit, you can minimize the effect of negative press.
And if you have experienced negative attention already, this guide can help you tip the scales in the other direction.
Before we get to the meat of the guide and show you the online reputation management tools at your disposal, you need to understand the types of negative attention to look out for and prevent:
- Social media complaints
- Negative reviews
- Hate sites
- Negative media coverage
Of these, social media complaints are the smallest threat because they’re less likely to earn a prominent rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). However, the other three can cause serious harm to your online reputation.
Without further ado, let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of this guide: the online reputation tactics you need to know about.
Online Reputation Tactics
Some of these are easy to do on your own while others will require that you seek out the help of a professional. For example, if you need help with search engine optimization, you might check out www.thegallascompany.com to make use of their expertise. The six tactics we’ll cover in this section include:
- Monitor what folks are saying about your brand
- Understand where the negativity is coming from
- React the right way
- Be transparent
- Treat errors as lessons
- Ask for help when you need it
Ready to rock your online rep?
In order to know if your reputation has been tarnished, you need to know what others are saying about you: You as a person, you as a brand, your services and products, and you as an employer. Social media is one way to monitor this. Another way is to set up Google Alerts to automatically search yourself online.
For example, if you wanted to monitor for hate sites about your brand, you can search for and set up Google Alerts for:
- Your brand rip off
- The truth about your brand
- Your brand scam
These are some of the most common naming conventions for hate sites.
Knowing who is saying bad things about you and why is crucial to both dealing with it and countering it. For example, if a former disgruntled employee creates a hate site called “The Truth About Your Brand: Exposed” where they disparage you as an employer, you might want to post several blog posts or videos about your positive company culture.
If a former customer posts a bad review, you might share reviews on social media that discuss how you offer a stellar product or service. Do you see how understanding who is speaking against you and why can help you manage the situation?
When 91% of consumers from North America rely on online reviews to learn about a business, knowing how to deal with and counter negative press is crucial.
How you react when someone makes a negative comment about your brand can make or break your online reputation. If there’s nothing else you take away from this section of our guide, acting quickly and being polite are two principles to which you must adhere if you want to build a positive reputation.
There are other best practices too. If a customer or past employee, for example, says something critical of your brand, don’t hide from the criticism. Address it directly.
Speaking of employees, whenever possible, don’t swear them to secrecy. Let them talk up your products and services in a public venue.
Invite positive feedback from happy customers. Whenever anyone provides feedback, positive or negative, try to talk to them one-on-one. Don’t just direct them to a customer service number where you know they’ll have to explain their story six ways to Sunday.
Sometimes, people go too far in their critique of a brand or person. If someone’s illegal actions damage your online reputation, you may need to get the law on your side to deal with it. Despite free speech protection, negative content may count as illegal if it:
- Includes defamatory wording
- Aims to damage a reputation
- Presents lies as facts
Legal battles like in these situations aren’t always easy to win. By responding with a lawyer, you can have the chance to tell your side of the story.
4. Be Transparent
In the previous sub-section, we mentioned responding publicly and letting employees post publicly. This tactic deserves is own section though because it’s essential. Transparency suggests honesty, and honesty breeds trust.
Since your reputation is all about building trust, transparency is necessary. Be open and honest wherever possible. If something goes wrong, admit it.
The good thing about being open and transparent is other people start to see you as human. When they see you as human, they’re more likely to connect with you and your brand. Humans make mistakes, so when a brand is viewed as human, it’s okay for the brand to make mistakes too.
What’s not perceived as okay is for you to repeat your mistakes. Consider a product recall. Companies have been praised for transparency about recalls and judged for lack of transparency about recalls.
But consumers expect companies not to have to recall the same product for the same reasons again. Similarly, people online expect you not to repeat your mistakes. Own up to them, fix them, and remember them.
6. Get Help
With so many tactics to weave into your online reputation management strategy, repairing your brand’s identity can seem daunting. In fact, there are some tasks that you simply must get help for. A good example is getting into a legal battle over defamatory language.
But there are other professionals, in addition to lawyers, who can help you manage your online reputation. They include:
- Online investigators
- Online reputation managers
- SEO specialists
Online investigators bring data analysis skills to the picture. They can perform tasks like tracing emails to determine the source of defamatory content. They can cross-reference data to help you understand your detractors.
If you need to collect and analyze massive amounts of data–or hard to access data–in order to improve your online reputation, an online investigator may be just the help you need.
Online reputation managers are the pros to go to if you need to boost your online image. They work with clients of all kinds, from your average parent to your not-so-average Fortune 500 company. A great online reputation manager will be able to scale his or her services to suit any client’s needs.
This is because they combine PR skills and technical skills. They can help you send negative search results packing…to the second SERP and beyond. They do so by guiding you in creating positive content.
They then promote that positive content to bury the negatives. If you want to try to remove negative reviews, an online reputation manager might be able to help you. Depending on the review site, it’s important to keep in mind that it may be a lengthy process to do so, especially if you’re paying a pro by the hour.
Finally, it may be necessary to get out the big guns and opt for some aggressive SEO. If you’re not an SEO specialist, this isn’t something you want to try to tackle on your own. SEO management can require technical skills and it’s not an area you in which to feel around in the dark.
Not only will an SEO specialist have the necessary skills, but a good specialist will also be up to date on the latest SEO trends.
Damaging someone’s or a brand’s reputation online is easier than it should be. Because 75% of users never look past page one of SERPs, the stakes are high.
But now that you’re armed with the knowledge to ensure your online reputation repair, and to bolster your reputation against negativity, you’re ready to create your online reputation action plan. If you feel like you don’t have the time or expertise to put your plan into action, that’s okay. Get help if you need it.
If you still have questions about SEO and how it can impact your reputation on the internet, drop us a line. Maintaining your online reputation can seem daunting. But, with the right knowledge, you can ensure that your brand puts its best foot forward.