As a business owner or operator, your livelihood hinges on your online reputation. And with 93 percent of online experiences starting with a search engine, you cannot afford for a prospect’s initial impression of your company to be a negative one. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to rebuild your online image and prevent your business from experiencing future reputation problems. Below are some signs that you have a negative online reputation and five ways to start turning it around.
What are some signs that your online reputation is in trouble?
Recognizing that your online reputation is suffering is unpleasant. But it is the most important step you will take on the path to reestablishing a positive presence online. Unfortunately, the signs of a tarnished online reputation are not always easy to spot. The hints are often subtle, and may take the form of sagging sales or slow traffic at your next trade show. Here are some of the most common signs that your online reputation is in trouble:
1) Your profits are suffering
“Studies make it clear that what people say about your brand online directly affects your bottom line. Businesses can lose contracts, employees can get fired, and even more importantly, the brand’s reputation can suffer, whether the negative information is true or not. Online reputation impacts profit.”
– Sameer Somal, Chief Financial Officer at Blue Ocean Global Technology and Blue Ocean Global Wealth
Sagging profits are a telltale sign that something is amiss with your business. But because many factors can lead to decreased profits, many people fail to associate their poor business performance with their poor online presence.
2) Your online reviews are terrible
In contrast to lackluster profits, poor online reviews are easily linked to an unfavorable online image. Negative reviews typically revolve around a consumer’s unsatisfactory experience with a product or service. They may also take the form of a complaint about one of your policies or procedures. The only good news about poor online reviews is that they are easier to spot through regular monitoring.
3) Your company does not appear on the first page of Google
If you suddenly notice that your company is no longer appearing on the first page or two of Google during an online search, then your online reputation might be in jeopardy. In most cases, you are either failing to attract sufficient reviews of your pages or not producing enough high quality content. Regardless of the reason, you need to improve your search engine ranking.
What are some steps you can take to improve your online reputation?
A sullied online reputation will not magically repair itself. You will need to take a proactive approach to improving your online image and use a variety of strategies for best results. Below are five steps to help you begin to improve your online reputation.
1) Promote your accomplishments and exciting news
Prospects will have a hard time believing a scathing review about your restaurant’s terrible pancakes if you just posted a video of your chef receiving a major award for the state’s best pancakes. If your brand is suffering, you can help restore your image by promoting all of the positive news about your business. Examples include industry awards, certifications, community volunteer activities, and exciting product launches.
2) Rebuild your credibility with client testimonials
“A testimonial means that the person giving it is putting their reputation with their own tribe on the line. If they give a testimonial and the business doesn’t live up to what they have to say, their reputation is damaged.”
– Andrew Griffiths, Entrepreneur and Author
Testimonials – especially those from industry leaders – will work wonders to help reduce the sting of negative reviews. When a customer posts a biting remark about you or your products, fight back by seeking a stellar testimonial from one of your high profile clients. This measure will send a message that your products or services really are as good as you advertise them to be.
3) Monitor your social media accounts
Social media monitoring can help you gain valuable insight into the conversations – or lack of conversations – that are unfolding about your brand. In addition to helping you identify your brand’s strengths and weaknesses, social media monitoring can help ensure that you consistently post high quality content and respond to comments from your followers.
The simplest way to achieve this step is to designate a member of your staff to regularly monitor your social media pages. Or, you can explore one of the latest social media monitoring tools that are designed to help you track your followers’ activity and determine which of your social media strategies are having a positive impact on your business.
4) Find the silver lining in negative reviews
“Reading a negative review about your company can feel like a punch to the gut. But once you get over the initial impact, there are lessons to be learned and a silver lining or two.” – Megan Krause, Marketing Land
As painful as it is to admit it, negative reviews often contain clues that your business could stand to improve in one or more areas. For instance, if you take the time to dive into a review that slams your business for not answering incoming phone calls, you may discover a glitch in your phone system. By addressing this glitch, you can prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.
5) Seek feedback from your customers
Asking your existing customers to be brutally honest about their experience with your company is essential to increasing your repeat business and attracting new prospects. You can seek feedback formally through a brief survey or informally through conversations or email exchanges with customers. Remember to encourage honesty, and to take note of any negative feedback as well as positive comments.
What is the single best step you can take to improve your online reputation?
As outlined above, there are multiple measures you can take to restore your online image. However, the single best thing you can do to improve your reputation online is to seek the services of a proven reputation management expert. An accomplished specialist can help you develop a PR campaign that will help your damaged reputation become a distant memory. Most importantly, they will provide the support and guidance you need to regain your confidence.
We invite you to contact us at Geary Company Advertising to discover how we can help you overcome your negative online image. We will put our 50 years of industry experience to work for you by crafting a bullet-proof PR plan that focuses on your company’s many positive accomplishments. We look forward to helping you transform your online reputation!