What do people who haven’t contacted you yet see when they Google your business? Are the results: Positive? Negative? Non-existent?
Your business’s online reputation starts with Google (or in the case of voice search – Google Home or Echo). It’s where people go to learn more about your brand, or when they want to buy what you sell. If business success is your goal, you’ve got to invest in how your business is seen by people who might buy from you.
The first step to managing your business’s online reputation in this 2017 environment is to take Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seriously.
That’s because when a potential new customer first sees or hears your business name, what do they do? They Google you. What they find could be what decides them to buy from you or not.
Most people think SEO is a way to promote your website to get more business drawn to your site so you can make some profit. And that’s true… in part.
Now we’re going to dig a little deeper to see how those two principles can work to protect your online reputation, attract new customers and increase your sales.
As we said, the goal of SEO is to make your online content more visible to search engines, to get your business to page one of search results for relevant keywords.
If your SEO campaign is successful, then competitors trying to rank for those same keywords will see their content fall down the results page, because you replaced their name with yours.
Numbers don’t lie: search engines get over 6.5 billion searches every day, making search engines one of the best places to connect with consumers, and businesses are missing out if they don’t focus on SEO. Since the majority of web users only look at the first couple of search results, SEO done well can boost traffic to your site, and ideally, convert those searchers into buying customers.
Google would have you believe that SEO is simple. Just post some great content and people will flock to your site!
Hold the phone and not so fast.
The Internet is a big place, competition for your keywords is fierce, and it’s filled with people who have a lot to say—not all of it good. What do your potential customers see when they search your business name? You can’t address problems if you don’t know what they are. Perform searches with “reviews” or “complaints” at the end of your name if you want to see the real dirt.
An efficient ORM plan involves constant monitoring for mentions of your name, business name, and products you sell.
When someone searches your business, every result on the first page should support a positive view of your company.
Consumers are easily influenced by negative mentions of businesses, and with so much competition out there, one negative review is often enough to send someone to your competitor.
If your online reputation is just not what you’d like, you can’t necessarily have negatives removed, but you can do some damage control. Lessening the harm of negative search results is a big part of ORM
The best method to lessen the impact of negatives is to use some or all of the most well-understood factors that affect search engine results.
- Contribute to other websites as a guest writer using your company name in the headline and content whenever appropriate.
- Create profiles on multiple social media sites.
- Refresh your content. New and up-to-date web content is a big indicator to Google of the quality of your web page. Also important are activities on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Work on your SEO so that positive content appears first in search results. This means having content that goes beyond your own website. (See #1 and #2 above)
- Get your business listed on your industry’s profile and resource pages.
- Encourage others to write about you by sharing press releases about your business.
- Ask satisfied customers to leave good reviews about you by showing them where to leave reviews. Make it easy for them to do so.
- Overwhelm the bad with the good. You’re never going to have control over what is written about you online, but you can show your business the way you want it shown. Focus your efforts on making sure there are lots of positive results when people search for you.
YOU CAN’T OPT OUT OF REPUTATION MANAGEMENT.
In Part Three of our investigation of Online Reputation Management tactics, we’ll look at proactive steps you can take to reduce the impact of any negatives that may pop up about you and your business.