What You Need To Know About Online Reputation Management

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is a rapidly expanding field, with more people looking to manage their image all the time. The internet is largely unregulated and, even when it is possible to have content removed from a website, people will be able to share information far faster than it can be taken down. This is why ORM is becoming more popular all the time. Any person or company who might be researched via Google or social media needs to get up to date with ORM, and make sure their public image is well taken care of.

How Does ORM Work?

The strategies employed by ORM professionals can take many forms, but the overarching idea is to create positive content that people will see online. When people look for information about a person or company on Google, there are no regulations that govern what might be found. This is why it is important to make sure positive information exists, and that it is presented on easily accessed websites. At its core, ORM is all about creating honest, straightforward content that gets seen by the public.

Keeping Up With Your Image

ORM is an active solution for online image maintenance. There are a number of ways to keep track of what people are saying about you online and you owe it to yourself to keep an eye on what might be trending.

Web services like Google Alerts, Yahoo Alerts, Twitter Search and Social Mention will help you to stay current with what is being talked about, and allow you to create content that engages the ideas that are popular. ORM isn’t only used to defend your image. You can also use it to create media that will associate your image with popular topics.

Why ORM Is Relevant To You

Your image is everything, so using advanced strategies to maintain it online is a good idea. Social media creates the perfect situation for PR nightmares, with users able to share information in near-real time. By the time you realise your image is being smeared, it will be too late to stem the damage. ORM creates a depth of positive resources online, so there will be a defence waiting if negative information starts trending. If you have been ignoring your online image – or just hoping for the best – now is the time to create an effective ORM strategy. Enlisting the help of ORM professionals is a good start and will get you on the right path.

4 Tips for Handling a PR Nightmare

Bad publicity is something every company fears. One misstep has the potential to create a huge amount of backlash if it is picked up by the press and becomes a major news story. Marketing and communications professionals are at the front lines when it comes to PR, but if the issue is big enough it will eventually come back to the company’s leaders, especially the CEO.

Reputation incidents can pass quickly, or they can become an ongoing issue that eventually takes down the entire company. Much of this depends on how leaders deal with the situation from the outset. A genuine, nuanced response, one that takes into account the seriousness of the problem while emphasising the organisation’s desire and ability to fix what went wrong, can go a long way to neutralising the damage.

Here are four tips from company leaders who’ve successfully negotiated this delicate situation:

  • Be Transparent – In 2011, the young communications manager at Bath City Football Club, Ned Vaught, found himself at the centre of a controversy when the company offered an 80 percent discount to local groups, including one nearby Polish community. Public comments from fans were taken up by local and national news organisations. Rather than hiding, Vaught responded to every interview request. Before the controversy was over, he had appeared on BBC, talkSPORT, and ITV West Country. His steady communication of the company perspective helped to minimise the negativity the story had generated. Vaught commented afterwards that “it’s much better to be out in the open” in situations like this.
  • Offer Specific Solutions – Brian Berry was unlucky enough to be CEO of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) when the Daily Mail took up a story about a couple whose house had collapsed after they picked a builder from FMB’s member list. Berry responded immediately to requests for comment and expressed his sympathy for the couple on an interview with BBC’s Rip off Britain programme. He also explained what the firm was doing to address the issue: the builder responsible for the faulty house was suspended from FMB membership and eventually dismissed, and the organisation went on to establish stricter entry criteria.
  • Emphasise a Positive Track Record – In 2007, a Virgin Trains crash in Cumbria killed one passenger as a result of a missed inspection. The company took some flak for the incident, but Virgin head, Sir Richard Branson, tried to put the issue in perspective in a TV interview where he pointed out that his company had safely transported half a million passengers without facing a situation like this. Branson’s comment was successful because he maintained sympathy and understanding for the passengers involved in the incident, while at the same time pointing out that, overall, his company had a good track record.
  • Be Prepared – Preparation is everything when it comes to reputation. Companies that have a clear plan for how to handle potential issues will be responsive right from the start. They will be better equipped to coordinate the company’s various branches so everyone is telling the same story. Allyson Stewart-Allen, CEO of International Marketing Partners, underlines the importance of having a proactive strategy. Every executive should “know what the party line is and how to get that message out to their own national press” she says.

Consistent reputation management is an important part of any preparation effort. Reputation Defender’s professional ORM services help to build an in-depth online profile and assist companies with reputation repair as soon as a negative story surfaces. Contact our reputation specialists to learn more.

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.

Combat Online Crime – Five Ways to Improve Your Company’s Cyber-Hygiene

Cyber-crime is a growing problem that has begun to invade almost every part of the internet. There are numerous ways criminals can attack individuals and businesses online, from traditional fraud or theft, to leaking personal data and hijacking websites through ransomware or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. At ReputationDefender, we help businesses shore up their defenses against these threats which can damage the company’s reputation and leave its leaders struggling to regain control of personal data.

Unfortunately, not every battle is winnable. There are many targeted online attacks, called Advanced Persistent Threats (APT), which are carried out by a massive organization (often a nation-state) with a lot of resources at their disposal. The latest big DDoS attacks also have the ability to knock out huge swaths of the internet for a short period of time, and they are very difficult to defend against.

Most Online Crime is Preventable

However, the majority of cyber-crime instances occur as a result of human error or systems that aren’t secure. People who fail to practice basic hygiene are more likely to get sick or spread disease to others and the same is true of online viruses and malware. Companies that succeed in blocking most access channels will send hackers on to easier targets. Basic cyber-hygiene won’t protect against every threat, but it will make it much less likely that your company will be one of the unlucky ones.

  • Education – A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and in this case that means the employee with the least amount of tech experience. Reduce the risk by educating everyone with computer access in basic security protocols, such as password strength and phishing scam recognition. Make sure anyone with home access is running security software.
  • Use Available Resources – There are a number of online sites that have a lot of information on cyber-security. In the UK, the Get Safe Online site offers valuable resources for companies and individuals who want to protect their privacy. Do not assume that you know everything; read the experts’ advice and then share it with other staff members.
  • Update Regularly – Microsoft, Adobe and other office software offer regular updates and security patches. It is extremely important to make sure someone is in charge of installing these; they’re often designed specifically to close vulnerabilities that criminals have learned to exploit.
  • Invest in Security – Viruses and malware are constantly changing. At some point, technology from ten years ago simply won’t protect against modern threats. Up-to-date security might seem like a big investment, but it’s nothing to what the company will lose through direct stealing or reputation damage if it’s hacked.
  • Perform Internal Audits – Security issues do not go away if you ignore them; they get worse. It’s worth hiring a professional to perform regular audits so you can diagnose the company’s weakest areas and work on fixing them.

Ultimately, combating cyber-crime will take a concerted effort amongst international and governmental agencies to track down these individuals and eliminate all the different ways they can attack. However in the short term, companies can accomplish a lot by making sure their own security practices are first rate.

Why Do I Need to Know About SEO?

With Google’s algorithmic changes aimed at putting the user experience first, page optimization has become increasingly focused on content. Manipulative black-hat techniques, such as link generation and keyword stuffing, have fallen into the background, whilst well-written content and traditional marketing techniques have become key.

Yet the latest slogan, “Content is King”, undermines the important role technical SEO still plays in ranking a page. It’s true that well-written, original content is a must for today’s algorithms, yet with everyone on the internet focused on creating quality material, expert page mark-up, crawlability and optimal load-speed, these features are also needed to rank a page high on the SERP. At Reputation Defender, we help brands to build their reputation using all aspects of SEO; from quality content creation to running technical audits that analyze how the page is performing.

A Basic SEO Checklist

SEO isn’t something companies can just ignore. A thorough SEO check-up is a necessary part of building a website, since all the time and money will be wasted if Google can’t index the page and rank it where a potential customer will see it. Even for a small website, an SEO check-list constitutes a comprehensive task. Here is a basic overview of some of the most important areas:

  • On page SEO – This includes basic attributes such as the page title, meta description, headings, keyword usage and keyword density. A sitemap will help Google and other search engines navigate and index the website, while a Robot.txt file tells bots which pages to crawl. Text to code ratio, page requests, CSS and Google analytics tags must also be analyzed.
  • Speed Test – Page load speed is an important ranking factor for Google, so SEO needs to consider HTML page size, (around 33 kb if possible) and use Gzip code compression if necessary. Pages should contain a caching mechanism to load faster; the use of flash items should be avoided if possible since this will slow the page down. A Site Loading Test also needs to perform to verify load time.
  • Server and Security – Check URL and IP canonicalization to ensure that each page has its own unique URL and IP. Analyze security issues such as directory browsing, harmful botnet access and server signatures. The website should be “on the green side” for safe browsing, otherwise it could infect customers with a virus, making them unlikely to return.
  • Mobility – To succeed on today’s internet, websites need to be optimized for mobile devices and include Social API’s for major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc).
Auditing a Site

There are many reasons why a page that seems to be well-optimized may not be ranking. It could be due to content, website traffic, incoming links or other off-page factors, but this will be impossible to prove without first checking technical aspects related to indexing and ranking. Bad URL’s, incorrect internal linking, duplicate content or Schema marking are just a few of the reasons pages could fail to rank on the SERP.

Most SEO’s use software to perform a technical audit. These programs can crawl the webpages in a similar way to Google bots and highlight the issues that could be causing a problem. These are three choices site auditors might want to consider:

  • Screaming Frog – One of the most popular programs that is easy to use and free up to 500 pages.
  • ISS SEO Toolkit – A Microsoft based program that is slightly more in-depth for those possibly with more advanced SEO training.
  • SEMrush Site Audit – A valuable tool for analyzing site changes.

Software choices often depend on personal preference as well as the size and complexity of the site.

Technical Requirements of SEO

Today’s SEO’s need a lot of different skills, so good work usually results from collaboration between different members of a team. Writers and content editors need to develop articles that will draw in clients and encourage them to browse further through the website. Marketers promote products, construct a company image and establish connections. But without technical SEO analysis all these efforts will be ineffective at promoting content and building a positive online profile.

These are just a few of the topics modern SEO needs to be familiar with to analyze a page and improve SERP ranking:

  • DOM (Document Object Model) – A structured representation of a web-page that enables it to be read by scripts and programming languages.
  • Structured Representation of Data – An organized way of representing data that relies on protocols laid out on schema.org.
  • Critical Rendering Path – The method by which a page loads and is constructed or rendered into the browser.
  • Log File Analysis – Using the record of server requests to analyze how the site is being crawled by search engine bots.
  • JavaScript Framework – A popular website program that presents challenges for crawling and SEO.
  • HTTP/2 – A new web protocol that Google has been developing. It is likely to replace HTTP/1.1 which has been in effect since 1999.
Managing SEO Needs

Company founders have a choice to go it alone and become an SEO expert as they develop their website, or to invest in professional help. Time and financial constraints often create a part, as well an entrepreneur’s natural aptitude for this kind of work. However, as the company grows, the workload will almost inevitably become too great for one person and most organizations will need to invest in a professional team with the skill set to handle all aspects of SEO. Whatever the size of the company, no one should ignore SEO. It’s a vital part of building an online reputation and establishing a credible, professional image on the web.