Protecting your business through online reputation management

Whatever lines of work your business engages in, the chances are that it’s operating in a competitive environment. Potential clients or customers are going to have several options to choose from when deciding who to go with, and obviously you want to increase the chances that they’ll decide in your favour.

Let’s take it as read that you’re already offering an exemplary service and are confident that you’re the best at what you do. What matters at this stage is how people perceive you. In this day and age, for better or for worse, this is based on what comes up when they type your company name into an internet search engine.

What is online reputation management?

Online reputation management is all about managing those search engine results so that what comes up first when someone Googles your name is positive and accurately reflects how you want to be seen. People make decisions based on what a quick search tells them about a business. What they find can decide whether they engage with your services or not.

Online reputation management isn’t about distorting the facts. It’s about making sure that you’re represented fairly. The way the world sees your business shouldn’t be dictated by malicious gossip or the actions of one disgruntled individual. Unfortunately, sometimes one person with an axe to grind is all it takes to completely skew how your business is seen.

It doesn’t matter whether their allegations are true or not. Anyone with a grudge can start a vicious blog, and if that is what comes up when someone searches for your business, then that is what they will see. If it’s genuinely defamatory, you can take legal action, but by that time the damage is often done.

What you can do

You can put your side of the story and take control of how you’re perceived. Counter any negativity with positive articles and positive responses by genuine customers on social media. Even if you don’t have a problem with bad reviews, or the extreme example given above, having no reviews is almost as bad as having none when it comes to maintaining an online presence.

ReputationDefender can help you to manage your online image, promoting the positive and downplaying the negative. Understanding the algorithms that determine the order of search engine results can be a complicated matter, which is why using a professional company to manage your online reputation can be a good idea. However, there are also steps you can take yourself to improve matters.

Paint a balanced picture

One simple thing that you can do is to make sure that your own company website is giving out accurate and up-to-date information about your opening hours, address, services and so on. The next step is to encourage satisfied customers to write honestly about their experiences with you.

Too often, it’s only when we have a bad experience that we speak out about it. If things go well, we take it for granted and get on with our lives, but when things go wrong, we’re moved to complain. This is understandable, but as a business, it’s essential that your reviews paint a balanced picture. For this to be the case, your many happy customers need to say a few words about their feelings. Obviously, this has to be their decision, but there’s no harm in letting them know how much you’d appreciate it!

Your reputation is your livelihood

Part of good business practice is protecting and promoting your brand, and that means looking after your reputation. For any business, their reputation is everything, and damage sustained to it can be far worse than immediate financial losses in the long run. This is one reason why good customer management is so important. If you can deal with issues as they arise, before they result in a negative customer review, then the trouble you have gone through will definitely be worth it. It will also be appreciated by the customer, who may even show this by writing your company a positive review instead!

Make sure that there is plenty of positive, helpful and accurate information about your company available online. Take advice about search engine optimisation to make sure that it gets seen. Try to nip negative reviews in the bud before they happen, but if this isn’t possible, then engaging with the customer online in a friendly, conciliatory manner will show that you take their problems seriously and are prepared to try to resolve them. Look after your business’s reputation and it will look after you.

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