6 Ways A Blog Can Improve Your Company’s Reputation

If you’re running your own business, writing a blog is probably the last thing you have time for. Yet this simple promotional tool can help more than you think. A professional blog gives customers a way to learn more about you; it can add a personal touch to your image that sets you apart from other companies.

At Reputation Defender we encourage all our clients to use blogging as a reputation building tool. Any individual can improve their online profile with a professional well-written blog, but for a business this is even more important. Brand development is all about defining yourself online, and there’s no better way to do this than by creating genuine content. Unlike direct advertising, blog posts can draw in people interested in a variety of topics, and help show the company is committed to more than profit.

The good news is you don’t necessarily have to write the blog yourself.

You can delegate the job to a lower level marketer with a talent for writing, or even outsource it to a company that specialises in professional writing. Just be sure to proofread the finished posts and check for style or content that doesn’t fit with image you want to present.

The Advantages of Blogging

Here are 6 ways a blog can help your company:

  • Be Your Customers’ Best Resource – Some people visiting your website know exactly what they want and are prepared to purchase right away. Others have questions. Maybe they already bought the product and want to know more about it. Maybe they have a future purchase in mind and want to educate themselves before they make a decision. If customers know they can find answers on your blog, it will keep them coming back to your site.
  • Boost Rankings – More people visiting your site will generate more traffic and this will improve your rankings with Google and other search engines. Getting your website at the top of the search result page for your brand is the goal of any ORM campaign and blogging will help accomplish this.
  • Increase Revenue – Every time someone clicks on your website is another chance to gain a new customer. New customers who keep coming back to read your blog are likely to turn into long term clients. This all adds up to a sustained increase in profits.
  • Create Shareable Content – Blog posts can be shared across all the company’s social media pages, keeping them up-to-date and generating interest and traffic at the same time. Ranking these results is important, since they help to fill up the first page of a targeted search and push any negative stories or reviews onto later pages.
  • Build Credibility – Blog posts can also be republished on LinkedIn’s Pulse platform, one of the most important resources for professionals on the web. Over time, this will increase the company’s influence and standing within the industry so that smaller business start linking to your site.
  • Create a Socially Responsible Image – A blog is a good place to share why you decided to start your company and what your goals are for the future. You can tell customers what goes on behind the scenes and post updates on any charity work the company is involved with. Regular inspirational messages resonate with people emotionally and keep them coming back to read your blog and learn more about the company.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a company blog is just a frill. It is a worthwhile investment which will help to build the company’s reputation and generate long term positive relationships with customers.

5 Steps to Improve Your Restaurant’s Online Reputation

You might think that a restaurant’s online reputation is built on good food, but today this is only partially true. Of course, satisfying your customers’ taste buds is still a must, but any client experience starts with getting them through the door and this is becoming harder to achieve without a solid presence on the internet.

Today’s consumers make most of their choices based on information they find online, and this is especially true of restaurants. As far back as 2013, a study conducted by Single Platform found that 81 percent of consumers had searched for a restaurant on their mobile phone, while 92 percent had used a web browser, making restaurants easily the top, most-searched industry. Increasingly, consumers are adding detailed filters to their research, including cuisine type, location and price range. To succeed, you’ll need to appear where customers are looking, with a professional online profile that makes consumers want to pick you over a competitor.

Creating A Better Online Reputation

At ReputationDefender we help restaurants and other businesses build an online reputation that will increase their customer base and generate a positive buzz about the establishment. Whether you have just started a new business, or are trying to improve an existing reputation, our specialists can help create an online profile that will reach more people.

ORM for Restaurants

Here are some of the most important steps:

  • Professional Website – The design of your website can really make a difference by helping customers find the information they need quickly. Include pictures that show the ambience of the restaurant and the type of food you offer, but compress the images for a smooth load time, even on mobile. A sample menu helps customers get a feel for what you have to offer.
  • Create an Online Presence – Expand your internet presence beyond the website. Give the restaurant a social media profile on Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites and share news and updates on a regular basis. Write a blog focused on some of the foods and dishes you serve and other topics your customers may be interested in. Link all these pages to the website so it will be easy for a casual researcher to learn more about what you do.
  • Engage with Your Audience – Respond to comments as they appear. Even if feedback is negative, a professional response can help to undo the damage and make other customers realise you take their opinions seriously. People who feel they know you personally online will be more likely to become regular customers.
  • Put Technology to Work for You – There are many different programs which will make reputation management easier and less time consuming. A simple Google Alert lets you know when your brand is mentioned on Google. More sophisticated software, such as Hootsuite, will assist with regular social media updates. Other programs, like Upserve, are specifically geared toward restaurants, helping to manage everything from ordering to a personalised guest experience.
  • Ordering and Delivery Apps – Today many people don’t even want to go out to a restaurant, they want good food delivered to their door with minimal effort. Apps, such as Just Eat, will help you capitalise on this market by letting customers order and pay online. GrubHub research has shown that small restaurants often see a 50 percent increase in revenue when they invest in online ordering and delivery.

Leveraging the internet to create a better reputation will bring more local customers to your restaurant and increase the chances that travelling visitors will try out your cuisine. Even a small, family-owned restaurant or pub can’t afford to depend on people who’ve been coming for years. It’s important to make use of modern technology to attract today’s customers who are used to finding what they want online. For more information or tips on restaurant ORM, contact our experts at ReputationDefender.

7 Types of Malware and How They Attack Your Computer

Did you know that the first malware dates back to the 1970s, long before the internet even existed? Harmful computer codes and software were considered a prank in the early days of programming, but as our dependence on computers has grown, criminal attacks have become sophisticated and lucrative.

The term malware, short for ‘malicious software’, was first used by an early security researcher, Yisrael Radai, in the 1990s. It refers to any harmful program capable of controlling a computer, usually for the purpose of stealing sensitive information or destroying functionality. Destructive code can be hidden in any program, but today’s malware are most commonly delivered via the internet where criminals can conceal their identity more easily. Once hackers gain access to sensitive data, they use it for financial gain, or to destroy personal and professional reputation. At ReputationDefender, we help our clients safeguard their personal information with ongoing surveillance and privacy reporting. We also assist with removal and reputation rebuilding if you’ve already become a victim.

Antivirus and other software will protect against many types of malware, but hackers are constantly developing new programs and delivery techniques that will pass under the radar. Malware concealed in a harmless looking link can infect your computer almost immediately and be very difficult to get rid of.

Defining Malware

Today, there are so many different types of malware it’s hard to keep up with all the terms. These are seven of the most common malware and how they affect your computer.

  1. Viruses – just like a cold virus, a computer virus infects by reproducing, copying its source code until it can control the entire computer. This type of malware is delivered in a file attachment and it can also spread to other computers via corrupted files that you send. Today, viruses are frequently detected by antivirus software, so they are less common than they used to be.
  2. Worms – this is a ‘standalone malware’. Like a virus, a worm is self-propagating and can spread to other computers, but it infects networks rather than computer files.
  3. Trojans – like the famous story of the Trojan horse, this type of malware masquerades as a legitimate download, often an email attachment such as a routine form. Trojans don’t replicate themselves, but they do open a backdoor that will allow hackers to steal data from your computer.
  4. Ransomware – this type of malware will encrypt computer files so they are unreadable. Once the files are scrambled, the hackers will demand a ransom price in return for the key that can decrypt the data. This new type of malware has been on the rise over the past few years, with large scale attacks aimed at organisations that store a lot of valuable information, like hospitals and police networks.
  5. Spyware – this is a form of malware that will monitor your browsing activity and sometimes try to steal passwords. Spyware works similarly to adware, which is responsible for the annoying, but harmless, advertising that pops up on some websites or apps.
  6. Browser Hijackers – malware that will take over a browser, usually creating a new homepage and redirecting searches to pages you don’t want to visit.
  7. Rootkit – this is a term you’ve probably heard in relation to malware. A rootkit won’t actually harm your computer, but it will hide a virus or other malware from detection. Most major antivirus software now include rootkit removal.

Phishing Scams Target Some of the Biggest Online Brands

Amazon and PayPal are the best ways to make financial transactions online. WhatsApp is the secure messaging service with end to end encryption. Everyone uses Facebook and Gmail. What could go wrong?

If you think the best-known names on the internet are safe, it’s time to think again. Online criminals are getting smarter and sometimes the bigger the brand, the more worthwhile it is to invest in a scam that will actually fool people.

In the past, phishing emails were easy to spot, with bad grammar and spelling mistakes a native speaker wouldn’t make. Today, scammers not only use perfect English, they’ve often expertly matched the logo, style and URL, so it takes a careful comparison to see the difference. Meanwhile, legitimate sales platforms, such Facebook Marketplace, are full of people trying to convince you to hand over money for nothing in return.

Don’t assume anyone online is telling the truth unless you have verification from an independent source. It takes only a few seconds for hackers to steal financial details or infect your computer with malware that will allow them to access personal information. Help protect your privacy and safeguard the entire family’s reputation with ReputationDefender’s online privacy services. We’ll tell you about system vulnerabilities before they become a problem and help you deal with leaks after the fact. We’ll also keep you up-to-date on some of the most recent scams.

Companies to Double Check

Here are 6 well-known companies that have recently been targeted by scammers.

  • Amazon – Hackers have been sending convincing receipts for products that were never purchased complete with a link to follow if you want a refund. Don’t fall for it. Open a new browser window and sign into your real Amazon account to check your orders.
  • Apple – A group of scammers have been caught trying to convince people to pay off tax debt with iTunes gift cards. The message may come as a phone call, text or email claiming to be from the HMRC, but fraudsters ask for iTunes vouchers, which can be sold or traded anonymously, to pay off the overdue tax. The HMRC would never communicate in this manner and Apple doesn’t use iTunes as payment ‘outside of official stores’.
  • Facebook – Facebook Marketplace isn’t even a year old and it’s already full of scammers. Since there is no official payment method, it’s up to buyers and sellers to make an agreement. A number of fraudulent users have been insisting on payment via bank transfer, but once the money is turned over the product is never delivered and messages are blocked. Never agree to a bank transfer with someone you don’t know well; there are too many ways this can go wrong.
  • Google –A new Gmail scam has been scarily effective, even with tech savvy people who don’t usually fall for phishing. The trap appears to be an attached file from a contact, but instead it’s an embedded image which will take you to a Google sign-in window when you click on it. The window also appears legitimate, complete with ‘One Account, All of Google’ at the top of the page. However, once you enter your login details hackers have complete access to your account and start to target your contact list almost immediately. The only way to spot this scam is by noticing a subtle difference in the URL which begins with ‘data:text’ rather than ‘https’.
  • PayPal – Look for a warning that claims there’s been ‘unusual activity on your PayPal account’. The scammers have cleverly copied enough identifying marks to make the email look legitimate, but the clicking on the link will give them access to your account.
  • WhatsApp – WhatsApp users have reported messages claiming to offer free Sainsburys gift cards in celebration of new stores opening. Unfortunately the message has nothing to do with Sainsburys and clicking on the link will install malware that allows hackers to steal information from your phone.

New phishing scams appear all the time. Learning to recognise the signs will help protect your reputation and keep your information secure. For further questions or concerns about phishing scams, contact our experts at ReputationDefender.

Redesigning Your Website? Follow These 10 Steps to Keep Your Ranking

If you’ve been using the same website for a number of years, it’s probably time for a makeover. Designing an updated site is an exciting chance to give the brand a new image, but it can be challenging as well. What if the new look doesn’t resonate with customers? What about ranking the site for key brand-terms? Are you going to have to start over with promotion for the new site?

SEO is an Important Part of Redesign

Any entrepreneur thinking about updating their website should be asking these questions. Search engine reputation management, ranking the brand’s official website high on page one of a Google search, is vital to attracting and keeping customers. At ReputationDefender, we assist business clients with building a positive reputation that will make it easy for customers to find them online. A professional, well-optimised website is part of this.

The good news is it’s possible to design a new site without losing all the work you put into the old one. In fact, this can even be a good time to fix some of the issues that are still causing problems so the updated version actually generates more traffic. However, to be successful you’ll need to put a good deal of time and effort into SEO. It might be less interesting than the more artistic elements of a redesign, but it’s worth it in the long run.

10 Steps to Updating Your Site

If you’re working with a professional website building company, make sure you communicate your SEO needs from day one. Follow these 10 important steps to make sure you don’t lose ranking.

  • Crawl the old site. – This will give you a blueprint of the existing site’s structure, including meta data, titles, URLs etc.. You can then use this data as a roadmap for designing the updated site. To crawl your site, you will need the Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool, or a similar type of software. Free versions of Screaming Frog are available, depending on the size and complexity of your site.
  • Run an SEO audit. – After crawling the site, it’s important to examine the data and identify errors or areas that aren’t performing well. This will help show what you need to change in the new design. Audit tools such as Woorank will do this for you, or you can manually go through the crawl-data to get a better feel for what the issues are . You’ll need analyse titles, H1 headings, meta descriptions, canonicals tags and alt-image text. Check for duplicate content, missing tags and broken links. Use Google’s analytics tools to verify how the pages are being indexed, and check speed and performance.
  • Block the test site. – Missing this step is one of the biggest mistakes you can make with a redesign. If Google indexes the test site as it’s being built, then the pages will be devalued as duplicate content when you launch the site for real. Fortunately, there’s a simple fix. WordPress and many other website-building platforms have a ‘noindex box’ which you can check to ‘discourage search engines from indexing this site’. Alternatively you can also block the site using the Robots.text file.
  • Crawl the test site. – Use the software from step one to crawl the test site. Save a copy of both crawls, the current site and the test site to use for editing.
  • Analyse and compare the data – Match up the page structure and headings that are working on the current site with corresponding elements on the test site. Fix the issues that were uncovered in the audit so they aren’t transferred into the redesign. Keep or promote pages that are working well.
  • Update URLs – If you don’t redirect the old URLs to the new site, you’ll get 404 ‘page not found’ errors. To fix this, you’ll need to first create a corresponding URL on the test site, then redirect the old address to link directly to this page.
  • Optimise New Content – Some new pages won’t have a match-up link in the old site. These will need to be optimised to use keywords in the title, URL and H1 headings. Make sure there’s only one H1 tag per page.
  • Optimise Links – Links are an important ranking factor, but it’s just as important not to overuse them. Limit yourself to links that are actually useful for SEO purposes. Use specific descriptive words in your CTAs so it will be easier for Google to index them and rank their importance.
  • Unblock the Site – Don’t forget to remove the ‘noindex’ tag before you go live.
  • Test Ranking – Once the site goes is up and running, you’ll still need to test how it’s performing for important keywords. Check Google’s indexing and analyse organic traffic. If there are problems, another SEO Audit like you did in Step 2 may be necessary to find and fix the issues.

Going through these steps will help to transfer the reputation capital you’ve worked so hard to build and that will save a lot of time and money once you start using the new site. If you are not familiar with technical SEO, consider getting professional help since this is a very important part of the process. Our experts at ReputationDefender work with new and well-established companies to make sure every update enhances the brand’s existing reputation.