When customers perform a search for your company, what do they see in the first page of the Google results? Chances are a search might include websites with negative content about your company. Negative websites can hurt your brand and decrease your company’s revenue.
You can either let your reputation and sales suffer, or you can manage your online reputation just as you manage everything else in your company—by taking steps to get the results you want and keep your company on track for success.
The most effective online reputation management strategy is to get positive websites about your company to rank high, which pushes other negative websites down in the rankings. Easier said than done, of course. But this strategy has three distinct advantages:
- You don’t have to confront the owners of the negative sites, who may or may not be cooperative in removing the comments, reviews or forum posts.
- You are in control of your efforts to rank the positive sites, and are no longer at the whims of complainers, critics, disgruntled employees or disapproving reviewers who post their opinions online.
- It’s completely fair. You’re not forcing anyone to change their content, whether through begging, arm-twisting or legal threats. You’re simply helping those who search about your company to see the good side of your company.
Imagine the effect on your online reputation when an online search produces a page full of websites containing only positive reviews, complimentary articles and glowing testimonials. You’ll project a much better image to everyone who finds you through Google.
How do you improve your company’s online reputation? Here are five key strategies to improve and protect your online reputation.
1. Develop a Plan
First and foremost, take charge of your online reputation. If you wait until there are multiple negative websites showing in the Google results, a lot of damage has already happened. It can take months or even years to repair a bad reputation, so it’s best to never get to that point in the first place. Your goal is to dominate the first two pages of Google search results with results that present a positive and accurate image of your company.
If you control the top 20 spots in Google it’s very difficult for a negative page to suddenly appear and rank in the top five, where it can have a significant impact on your reputation. So the first thing to do is to develop a proactive strategy and build a defensive position that will help you maintain an accurate online reputation from the start.
2. Be Very Active on Social Media
One of the best ways to protect your online reputation is the proper development and constant updating of social media profiles. Your company should be active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Link all of your social media profiles together. For example, your YouTube “About” page should link back to all of your social media sites and to your main website. Be sure to flesh out your social media profiles and pages with complete descriptions about what your company does, and with relevant keywords to help the search engines find you. The more information you put on social media, the better chance you have of getting them to rank high in the Google results.
Ideas to improve social media frequency, include posting:
- A link to a subpage from your corporate website each week
- Pictures of team members in corporate offices
- Pictures of company representatives at meetings and events
- Company representative testimonials
- Executive videos
- Short videos from recent events
- Short testimonial videos from events (very important)
- Interviews about business success
- Useful content from Direct Selling News
- The latest news about your company
- Statistics about your company (growth, expansion, etc.)
- Corrected misconceptions about the direct selling channel
- Company milestones
- Answers to commonly asked questions about the business
- Answers about the product lines
- Introductions of the executive team
- Introductions of the marketing teams
- Facebook Live events
- Polls for your followers
3. Create a Reviews Section on Your Website
Many companies live and die by online reviews, so don’t leave this to chance. Reviews will have a great deal of influence on prospective company representatives. There is always high search traffic on phrases that include the term “reviews,” and people are frequently making buying decisions based on what they read in those postings. First, be sure to have a distinct section on your website called “Reviews.” In this section include both text and video reviews. Don’t be shy about quantity. A great way to get lots of reviews is to have an area at your next conference where someone can simply record people individually talking about their success with your company. These videos don’t need to be long, or even professional (actually a little less professional makes them more believable). These testimonial videos should be short, under 60 seconds long. You should be able to generate 25-50 great reviews at your next company event.
You’ll also want to create sections on your social media accounts for reviews. You can set up a Reviews tab on Facebook and a Reviews playlist on YouTube. If you do business in other countries make sure to divide the reviews into geographic areas. Reviews on your YouTube channel can then be shared on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn and embedded in the “Reviews” section of your website.
4. Search Engine Optimization
Basic search engine optimization is critical for your corporate website. While Google’s algorithms are always improving, there are a number of things you can do to help Google “see” your site.
- Use your company name as the meta title and description tag
- Use various header tags
- Internally link to other pages on your website within the content
- Provide links to social media profiles
- Do frequent content updates
- Be sure your site works on mobile devices
Google doesn’t like stagnant websites, because they tend to be less relevant to users than sites that are kept up to date with the latest information and news. Key pages on your website should be updated at least on a monthly basis. Content updates can include videos, blog posts, press releases, company news, or channel-related events. In fact, you should have a plan to constantly create content so you have something to post on a regular basis.
5. Stay Active with Public Relations
Good public relations are critical to a positive online reputation. Sometimes companies feel that because of the internet they don’t need to be as active developing their brand in traditional media spaces. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that the best traditional media (newspapers, magazines) all have great websites. When your company is featured in an article there’s a good chance that article will show up high in the Google results. I have a recent client that secured great articles in Forbes, Entrepreneur and HuffPost. Now each one of those articles sits high in the Google results.
Press releases can often rank high in Google for your company name, so it’s worthwhile to report on anything newsworthy from your company. Include information about your company in the press release, mentioning your company and brand names while also linking to your social media sites. You can then publish the release through websites like BusinessWire or PR Newswire. Your releases should contain legitimate news and paint a progressive story of your company’s ongoing success. These releases will comprise much of the “digital footprints” your prospective customers will see over time. Aim for a release every month or two, but only do so if the release contains legitimate news that will continue to be meaningful for the long term, as the Google results will remain for many seasons to come.
All of this may sound like a fair amount of work, but the process is straightforward. In the digital age, managing your online reputation is just as important as keeping your books in order or delivering excellent support. It’s something you need to set aside time for, and assign a team to handle. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way toward developing a positive online reputation that will improve your company’s bottom line.