Many businesses fixate on the notion that your online reputation only matters when your customers are actively looking for reviews. During that search, they stumble onto your website, so you perform online brand reputation management to leverage positive reviews and influence their buying decisions. But did you know that your online reputation matters even before they reach your website?
At some point during the customer journey, your users will want to perform a branded Google search on your name. And when they do, your website and Google Business Profile won’t be the only things they see. But what they do see directly impacts your perceived authority and influence, which in turn affects the decisions they’ll make moving forward. This is your online reputation in action and essentially why reputation management is important.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at the customers’ journey and how your online reputation can impact their decisions even before visiting your website. We’ll also discuss how to incorporate online reputation management in search engine optimization (SEO) and how to remove negative reviews from Google search results to improve online reputation.
A Look at Your Online Reputation During the Customer Journey
A potential customer takes a series of steps before deciding to do business with you. This process is called the buyer’s journey, and it describes the sequence of decisions a buyer has to make before selecting a brand they want to do business with. The process begins when the customer realizes a need, which normally happens even before they stumble onto your website.
As potential customers consider different companies to work with, they start with a branded search to find information about those businesses. If yours is one of those brands, this search provides an unfiltered view of what it’s like to work with you.
When search engine results pages (SERPs) return results, such as social media reviews, Google My Business reviews (also known as GMB reviews), your social media activity and brand mentions, these appear as either success or horror stories based on previous interactions. Collectively, they provide your user with a first look at your online reputation.
How these come across to your target customer determines their next course of action. This shows the importance of reputation management outside of your website. Let’s go into more detail on why online reputation management is important and how it makes or breaks a sale.
Why Online Reputation Management Is Important
Not staying on top of your online reputation leaves you vulnerable to negative reviews, unfavorable comparisons and other potential reputation issues. In the age of the internet, all it takes is one negative review to go viral to put your entire operation in a crisis. The importance of reputation management in preventing any of this from happening can’t be stated enough.
By monitoring your online reputation through online brand reputation management, you can proactively listen to what everyone is saying about you and catch potential issues as they occur. This way, you’re able to paint a positive picture of your brand, enhance your online image and consistently protect your reputation.
To be clear, the main goal of online brand reputation management isn’t just to showcase positive reviews. A brand that doesn’t have any negative reviews looks suspicious and inauthentic. Reputation management helps you improve online reputation by showcasing your positive GMB reviews or social media reviews while also responding to anything negative that shows up on your Google Business Profile. And by leveraging Google My Business management best practices and responding to feedback the right way, you gain an opportunity to show genuine concern and rebuild connections with your customers.
How To Perform Online Reputation Management SEO
Do an Online Brand Reputation Audit
One of the biggest lessons to be learned in SEO reputation management is that you can’t go in headfirst without knowing how deep the water is. Before implementing online reputation management in SEO, you have to conduct an online reputation audit to get a picture of what users see when they search for your brand. Get a glimpse of the issues you’re facing and what SEO reputation management strategies you need to apply to improve online reputation. SEMrush shares a quick way to do this yourself:
- Open an incognito window and do a quick Google search on your brand name.
- Take note of the features related to your Google Business Profile, such as GMB reviews, user-submitted photos, comments, etc., and evaluate how others perceive your brand.
- Look at the pages appearing at the top search results and separate them based on level of control (full, some or none at all):
- Examples of pages you have complete control over include your website and social media accounts.
- Instances where you have some form of control include accounts on third-party websites and one-off negative mentions that can easily be fixed by outreach.
- For full-blown crises, you may need to tap the services of a reputation management agency to set up a PR campaign and rectify the situation.
Alternatively, you can also enlist the services of a reputation management agency to perform the audit or use auditing software to automate the entire process.
Control the First Page of SERPs
Your first goal in online reputation management SEO should be to control what a user sees on the first page of SERPs. Whenever possible, the top results should be managed by you. Controlling this page means you oversee the information received by your target audience.
Online reputation management SEO experts recommend setting up branded social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. These are low-hanging fruits but are highly reputable and will help you rank highly on branded searches. Other websites that are beneficial for online reputation management in SEO include industry directories and review sites.
Another lesson from SEO reputation management 101 on how to remove negative reviews from Google search results is to take advantage of the different SERP features. These allow you to maximize your online presence while also pushing down negative reviews and relegating them to the next page. Helpful features that accomplish this include:
- Featured Snippets
- Image Packs
- News Boxes
- Local Three-Pack
Be Active on Social Media and Review Sites
While having an increased presence on social media can certainly be advantageous, it also has its drawbacks. People will be leaving comments about your business, and not all of them will be positive. That’s why you need to employ social media reputation management and actively monitor your social media reviews.
Not all reviews will be coming from your social media presence. Reputation management is important outside of social media, as well. Be active on review sites and respond to both positive and negative feedback as soon as you get them.
Optimize Videos for Brand Search
If you’re running a video marketing strategy, one of the most helpful SERP features you can control is the video carousel. By optimizing your videos for branded search, you can control the front page of SERPs while also increasing the visibility of your marketing videos.
For WordPress websites, this process is made easier by SEO plugins like Yoast. Simply install the video SEO plugin and re-index your site to generate a sitemap to help Google crawl and index your videos.
Monitor Online Mentions
Monitoring your online mentions is a crucial aspect of online reputation management. As mentioned above, staying on top of reviews and mentions gives you ample time to respond to reviews about you.
Responding to positive reviews shows you are grateful for users’ active engagement with your brand and this encourages them to continue doing so. For negative reviews, responding early takes away the power of the negative review and shows that you are open to and respectful of feedback. When those appear on branded searches, your response shines a positive light on your brand.
In this blog, we’ve looked at how and why reputation management is important. Controlling how users perceive your brand is crucial in driving more interest toward your business and influencing user decisions.
Social media reputation management and Google My Business management play a key role in overseeing customer reviews. Meanwhile, monitoring and getting on top of your SERP activity allows you to paint a positive image of your brand during the buyer’s journey. By putting all these strategies together, you’re making your online reputation work for you as it drives customers down the sales funnel.
Do you need help managing your online presence? Let Rize be your partner. We are a reliable reputation management agency that helps you take control of your online presence to leave a good impression on your target customers. We offer social media reputation management and Google My Business management services to improve your online presence across the internet. Contact us today to get started.