- Your online reputation includes everything people can find out about your brand on the internet
- Your company’s online presence can impact your brand image and potential customers’ decisions to do business with you
- Content marketing, press releases, social media, and other positive content can boost your brand’s visibility to potential customers in search engines
As a business owner, building a brand with a solid business reputation is crucial to longevity. Back when the world was offline, reputations relied on how you conducted business in your brick-and-mortar store, on the phone, and door to door—but the consumer landscape has changed.
According to a 2022 survey, 78% of consumers now search online for information about local businesses more than once a week—and make purchasing decisions based on what they find. That means your online presence can now be a critical key to your success.
Learn more about why your company’s online reputation matters, what online reputation management involves, and how to make it work for you.
What is your online reputation?
Your online reputation is everything potential customers see and read when they search for your brand online. Even if you haven’t been building your online reputation intentionally, your brand could still have an online presence in the form of:
- Mentions in the press, including newspapers, print or online magazines, radio or TV broadcasts, news websites
- Content created by you, like blog and social media posts
- Online reviews on your business website, Yelp, or other digital platforms
Why your online reputation matters
Because most potential customers search extensively online before deciding who to do business with (for example, 93% of people on Yelp compare businesses before making a decision), it’s important to be intentional about what you publish online, focusing on content that reflects the reputation you’re trying to build. Without your voice in the conversation, potential customers will only have third-party information to rely on, which may not always reflect your brand as you see it.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management (ORM) is helpful when people do an internet search for your business so they can more easily find the right information that encourages them to choose your brand. It’s a set of techniques and strategies that help build trust with customers, employees, and investors through controlled brand image management.
ORM operates on a few main principles:
- Gather and monitor all online mentions of your brand, including press, social media, and online reviews—whether positive or negative
- Aim to constructively address any negative content about your brand
- Continuously build authentic positive content around your brand, products, and services
An online reputation needs ongoing management to handle any difficulties that might arise, such as bad press. The more proactive you are in managing your online reputation, the easier it will be to overcome negative perception and cultivate a positive brand image.
What’s involved in online reputation management?
There are several key steps to successful ORM. Here’s a closer look at each of them.
Step 1: Monitor media
Actively make note of everything people are saying and posting about your brand. You might find mentions of your business on online forums or news sites, on social media platforms, or in product or brand reviews.
Once you’ve collected all the information about your business, you can review that content and decide how to approach it.
Step 2: Review your content
Look over your content to get a sense of the overall sentiment around your brand. Is it positive or negative? Where are the problem areas? Perhaps there are complaints about your website, critical feedback on review sites, or unaddressed issues on your social media platforms. There might also be customer experience issues to address or gaps you could fill where you have no presence at all.
Also, look for areas that are working well and could potentially perform even better with a little more attention. Be clear about what you have control over and what you don’t.
Once you know the areas you want to work on, prioritize them according to level of urgency and where you can make the greatest impact. Your ORM strategy should be realistic and consider the staff and financial resources you have available.
Step 3: Address criticisms
Critical content that isn’t managed can cause quite the stir online—and the more clicks, the higher a website climbs in the search rankings.
Immediately address critical content in the most constructive way possible, whether or not you believe the criticisms are warranted.
If you’ve received negative press from a news outlet, for example, consider issuing a statement that corrects any inaccuracies and addresses the problem. You can proactively and constructively address many issues through your social media channels or in your e-newsletter.
Responding to online reviews is another effective way to join the conversation about your brand and build your reputation. Recent research finds that 77% percent of consumers always read online reviews for local businesses, and data also shows that 88% of potential customers will overlook a critical review if they see the business has responded to it and adequately addressed the issue.
Your response affects their perception of your brand and their purchasing decisions. When consumers see the thought and care that goes into your customer service, they’re more likely to take the next step in their purchasing decision and start evaluating your products and pricing.
When you respond, do so in a way that shows you care. Be empathetic, polite, and patient so the customer feels heard and acknowledged. Thank them for their feedback, own up to any mistakes, and apologize if necessary. Then work toward solving the problem.
Time is of the essence when responding to negative content. In fact, 76% of reviewers expect a response to social media comments within a day.
Step 4: Publicize positive content and build on it
When you find positive content about your brand online, publicize it wherever you can. For example, if a customer gave you a rave review on Yelp, share a link to that on your social media accounts or consider including their comments on your website in accordance with Yelp’s guidelines.
To build your positive content further, create a digital marketing strategy. The more high-quality, positive content and engagement you generate, the more likely that positive content will show up higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
To achieve this, apply SEO best practices to all your content. Your goal is to stay at the top of the search results with the content you choose.
To build a more robust online reputation, share positive content on social media, your business blog, and review sites. Check out these platform-specific tactics:
You don’t have to be everywhere to make an impact. Choose social media marketing platforms that make sense for your brand. Share information with your target audience about upcoming events, product updates, and useful tips, or simply ask a question to start a conversation. Post regularly to your social media accounts to keep your brand top of mind and to showcase your brand personality.
Aim to regularly publish blog posts that add value for your customer base. Publish these on your website, publicize them across your social media platforms, and send them to your email list. Taking time to plan out your content marketing will help you organize and strategize content authentic to your brand.
Reviews rely on your customers’ experiences. The better the experience someone has with your business, the more likely they will be inspired to share that with others.
Review sites like Yelp can help you gauge your online reputation, respond to customer reviews, and improve your search rankings. Once you add or claim your Yelp Business Page, you can engage with customers—thanking them for their online reviews or reaching out to apologize for or clarify concerns about consumer experiences.
Review monitoring and responding appropriately are key. Along with responding to criticisms, try to respond to all of your positive reviews too. Thanking the customer, addressing them by name, and customizing your response to their experience shows them—and others—that you care.
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Manage your brand’s online reputation to improve your business
Your online reputation comes from all the content on the internet that mentions your brand, including your own website, news stories, and review platforms like Yelp. While you might not be able to control everything said about your business, you can take steps to put your brand in a positive light with ORM.
ORM requires monitoring for all mentions of your brand on an ongoing basis, addressing negative content, and building positive content to create brand trust. Because ORM can be a significant investment, make sure you have the time to dedicate to it and the funds in your budget before you get started. Having solid planning, writing, and SEO skills will aid you greatly in this endeavor.
Once you’re in control of your online reputation, learn how to improve your customer engagement strategy to build lasting relationships with your customers.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.