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.

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.

6 Tips for Better Business Blogging

Writing a business blog is an excellent way to build a positive online reputation. At ReputationDefender, we recommend blogging as a keystone strategy for all our business clients. Blog posts offer valuable information on issues related to your brand and let customers know why they should invest in your services. In addition to this, they help to build traffic to the company’s other pages, directing potential customers back to the official website and acting as fresh material to share across social media profiles.

How to Write an Effective Business Blog

So, how does one actually go about creating a business blog? What is the difference between this type of publication and a personal journal? What are the pitfalls to be avoided and how do you generate genuine readership?

Here are 6 tips that will help to answer these and other questions:

  • Brainstorm a List of Topics – Deciding what to write about can sometimes be the biggest challenge. Readers will be more interested if they feel you are invested personally, but at the same time it’s important to maintain a level of professionalism and stay focused on topics that are relevant to the industry. Write a list of questions about the company: What does it do? How did it start? What challenges do staff face on a typical day? What are your goals for the future? The answers to these questions will start to uncover a wealth of business-related blog topics.
  • Plan the Blog – Once you generate a list of possibilities, plan the first few months of posts in a way that will makes sense to readers. Include at least one company origin story that offers a window into your (or the founder’s) inspiration. A behind the scenes look at how staff serve customers on a daily basis is also helpful. From there, move on to more technical posts that focus on industry trends or specific products. If there are any special company events coming up, plan to cover them with a blog post. Stick to a regular update schedule, whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, so readers know when to look for new content.
  • Choose the Style – A business blog should let customers get to know you on a personal level, while at the same time remaining formal enough to generate a sense of professional authority in your field. The exact style depends on your personality, the company’s overall vibe and the type of reader you want to attract. It’s fine to employ one or several ghost writers who are able to match the style and tone you want, but make sure you personally double checks posts to avoid publishing mistakes that could cause reputation damage.
  • Create a Formula that Works – Not every blog post needs to look the same, but it helps to stick with a general formula so readers know what to expect. This will also make it easier and quicker to write the posts. Draw readers in with an engaging story. Lay-out the problem as well as how your company can fix it. Add a Call to Action sending customers to the page you want, whether it’s the company’s website or a special offer page. Add interesting details so customers don’t feel like the post is just an advertising gimmick. Numbered lists or bullet-points help to format content in a way that is easy to follow and has been proven to boost traffic.
  • Vary Post Length – Anywhere from 300-2,000 words can be an effective length for business blogging. Different readers will be attracted to different types of content, so it’s a good idea to vary length, but most typical posts should be between 500 and 750 words. Interesting content is more important than length.
  • Use Click Generating Titles – A viral headline is what will get a blog post to rank where customers will see it. Using a numbered list is one of the best ways to attract readers. Directly addressing the reader and offering a concrete promise (such as ‘how to improve your blogging ability’) has also been shown to be effective. Beyond this, using emotion-generating superlatives, like ‘amazing’, ‘inspiring’ or ‘unique’, helps to attract the reader’s attention. Don’t resort to click-baiting, since this won’t attract long-term readers and may even end up hurting the company’s reputation. Make sure the content follows through on the headline’s promise.

Even the most interesting, well-written, relatable content won’t attract readers by itself, so it’s important to promote the blog once it’s written. Run a marketing campaign across all channels including the website, social media profiles, email signature and physical location if there is one. Promote the blog at all events so it really becomes part of the company’s personae. Once you generate a regular readership, posts will rank higher and they will be seen by more people. Popular posts can generate traffic over an extended period of time, so it’s well worth the initial effort to get the ball rolling.

Online Reputation – Don’t Forget to Manage Your Review Responses

Reputation management has a lot of similarities to online marketing, but it doesn’t stop there. Building a professional website, writing blog articles, and running an advertisement campaign are all important aspects of ORM. Yet beyond this, companies need a structured plan for building lasting relationships through online customer interaction.

Reviews Are Important

At ReputationDefender, we assist clients with generating and ranking positive content, but unfortunately, a few negative reviews can quickly undo all your hard work. Today’s customers are looking for more than brand generated content. They also want to see what kind of experience past customers have had. Studies have shown that 90 percent of customers read online reviews before trying a business for the first time, while 88 percent will trust these reviews the same as an in-person or word-of-mouth recommendation. This can translate directly into profits; businesses that receive predominately positive reviews see a 31 percent increase over those that don’t, while just one negative review can cost a company about 30 customers.

It’s Hard to Control What People Say

It’s hard to control who writes reviews on the internet, which can leave business leaders feeling somewhat helpless. Customers who’ve had a very memorable experience, either positive or negative, are more likely to take to the internet to express their feelings, and since many people tend to notice negative experiences more often than positive ones, online reviews don’t often represent a good cross-section of a business’s customers.

You can change this, as we mentioned in an earlier post, by generating more reviews. If every customer writes an honest critique, you’ll likely get a lot of positive comments (assuming the business is doing a good job overall) as well as a few pointers about where to improve. But even with the best review campaign, the majority of people visiting the site will still be there to read what others say, not to contribute.

Company Responses Make a Difference

This makes it very important for businesses to participate in the conversation taking place on review sites. Responses posted directly to this page will be read by everyone. Even if you don’t change the mind of the person who originally gave your business a negative rating, you can show other customers that you take feedback seriously and are sincerely trying to do a good job. Professional responses can often make you appear the more reasonable party.

Any serious ORM campaign needs to include a strategy to manage reviews, especially the company’s responses to reviews. The wrong response can generate more negative attention than the original comment, yet the right one offers a way to undo a lot of the damage and build a better, more honest relationship with customers. Managing reviews isn’t a job to be delegated to a college intern who happens to be handy on the web. It needs to be handled by a professional, preferably someone with real experience and standing in the company.

Planning a Response Strategy

Managing reviews is just like managing other aspects of your reputation. It needs a well thought-out plan, good writing and online communication skills, and of course technical tools to avoid missing content. Your response strategy will need to answer these four questions:

  • How do you keep track of reviews? – There are a lot of review sites on the internet and even with a full-time team it’s impossible to keep track of them all. It’s easy to set up a Google Alert for the brand name and any other relevant keywords. Other software is available with more complex capabilities that will let you monitor social media sites as well.
  • Which reviews are you responding to? – Don’t just respond to negative reviews. It’s important that people who write positive feedback feel their comments are also important to you. You should aim to respond to about 99 percent of reviews, even if it’s just a simple thank you.
  • Who writes responses? – Designate a person or a team to write responses. It helps if a high ranking executive or manager responds to at least some comments so it’s obvious the entire organisation is taking part in the feedback effort. Given time constraints, it may not be possible for this person to write every response, but make sure all team members have clear instructions about the style and content expected so the responses have a similar tone.
  • How will you respond to customers who are dissatisfied? – It’s never a question of if you will get a negative review, but when. It’s important to take these comments as constructive criticism and not react defensively. Some customers may bring up real areas where the company could improve, while others may be hard to please in any circumstances. Either way, write a short polite response within a few days. Take ownership of the problem. Explain what happened, and also what action has been taken to prevent to the issue from occurring again. Compensation can be appropriate in some cases if the customer experienced a loss of time and/or money.

If you stick to your response strategy, you’ll be able to build on positive reviews and avoid sustaining too much reputational damage from negative ones.

Knowing you have the ability to dilute the effect of hurtful comments just by how you respond makes online feedback feel far less threatening.