Reputation Management for 2017

Every year, reputation management becomes an even more important part of building a successful business. In 2017, it’s almost impossible to attract clients without an online presence, and entrepreneurs who fail to take control of their company’s reputation early will find themselves at a disadvantage.

Reputation Matters

People are expressing themselves more than ever on the internet and they’re also increasingly turning to other people’s comments to decide if a product or service is worth buying. 64 percent of marketing executives worldwide say “word of mouth” advertising is more important than other forms of marketing. On a personal level, we’re often taught not to worry too much about what others think of us, but what people say about your business will have real consequences when it comes to revenue. Company leaders can’t afford to not pay attention or to not care. They must take an active role in promoting the company through all internet platforms.

5 Reputation Management Questions to Ask in 2017

At ReputationDefender, we assist businesses with building or maintaining their online reputation. Reputation management is a growing field that changes regularly as search engine algorithms are updated and SEO techniques evolve. Yet there are some basic elements that every entrepreneur should consider if they want their company to keep expanding in 2017.

Here are five basic reputation management questions, as well as some of the ways companies can answer them:

  • What are people saying about my business? – There’s a lot of negativity on the internet. People are comfortable saying things online that they wouldn’t say in person, and sometimes this manifests as unreasonable rants about businesses or services they feel have let them down. As a business owner, it’s easier and more comfortable to just avoid reading these comments, especially since they tend to detract from our confidence in the company. Unfortunately, the last customer’s rant may be the first thing the next person researching your business sees. If you can’t delete the comment, you can at least respond politely and appropriately, so that it will be obvious you’re not the party being unreasonable. Sometimes customers also complain about real issues, so it’s crucial to take comments as constructive criticism and use them to improve.
    1. Google Alerts – A Google Alert for your name, the brand’s name and any related keywords will let you know any time someone leaves a comment on the website or another review site. This will allow you to respond appropriately.
    2. Social Media – Unfortunately, Google doesn’t index social media pages so if someone rants about your company on Instagram or Facebook it won’t be picked up by a Google alert. There are lots of social media listening tools, like Geopiq for Instagram, Reddit Keyword Monitor Pro, Hootsuite and Reputology, just to name are few. Some are free, while others come with a minimal cost. Of course you still won’t be able to respond to a private social media post, but the more tools you have at your disposal, the better the chances of catching a bad comment or review before it does too much damage.
  • What are people saying about competitors? – Don’t feel guilty about eaves-dropping on your competitors. The internet is a public place, so the information is available to everyone, just as your reputation is available to competitors. If online reviews give your top competitor four stars and they only give you three, which business will the next client choose? Probably not yours, unless there are some other mitigating factors. It’s as important to follow competitor’s reviews and comments as your own, so you can see what appeals to customers and work on imitating it. Give customers a reason to pick you over your competitor, whether it’s a different service, a better price, or just higher quality.
  • Is your website attracting clients? – The official company website is the key to attracting clients. It needs to be professional, informational and easy to navigate. It also needs to be optimized to appear at the top of the search result page for your brand. Most website platforms will offer tools to analyze traffic and let you know whether you’re attracting clients who spend time reading material. If the results are unsatisfactory, consider getting a professional SEO audit to figure out what isn’t working and improve on it.
  • What is not managing your reputation costing you? – Many entrepreneurs think that reputation management costs too much or takes too much time. However, once damaging material appears online, it could reduce profits almost immediately, especially if there isn’t already positive material ranking right alongside the negative reviews. The time and money it takes to build a positive reputation is much less than the cost of trying to fix a damaged reputation after the fact.
  • Do I need a professional reputation management service? – This question has to be answered individually for each company. Large companies may hire their own reputation management team as a division of online marketing. Small or midsize companies should consider working with a professional service unless one of the founders already has experience with reputation management or SEO. Many entrepreneurs may feel they can go it alone to start with, but reputation management can be very time consuming and as the company grows there will quickly be too much to do. Working with professionals from the start will help to give the company the best chance of success.

For more information or answers to further reputation management questions, contact our experts at ReputationDefender.

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.

ORM is Vital for Company Success

Online reputation management (ORM) has become better known over the past few years, yet not many people realize just how important it is when building a business. A positive internet reputation boosts credibility, increases sales and improves the overall image of a company. It’s one of the most important keys to a startup’s lasting success. With all this at stake, it’s worth making a considerable investment in reputation management. You can look at professional reputation management services offered by Reputation Defender.

How Does ORM Work?

Why is reputation management so important? Simply put, page one of your company’s Google search has become the modern version of a company brochure. It’s where customers go when they want to find out more about you. Yet unlike an in-house publication, business leaders don’t have absolute control over the content of the SERP. It contains feedback from customers and articles written by independent news sources, as well as the official website. This makes the SERP more vulnerable, but also more powerful. Business leaders often have to work quite hard to influence organic search results in their favor, but once they do, there will be a much higher chance of turning anyone casually researching the brand into a long term client.

The following types of SERP results are crucial to creating a revenue-generating reputation:

  • Credible Testimony – Today’s customers are more likely to trust the opinion of other consumers over what you say about yourself. Positive comments left by genuine clients will reinforce the company image and make it seem more trustworthy.
  • Positive Reviews – Consumers are more likely to buy a product if they can find reviews from other satisfied customers. Drawing four and five stars on well-known sites boosts sales more than any other single factor.
  • Personal Interaction – Even internet customers want to feel a personal connection with the businesses they patronize. Social media posts, blog articles and responses to comments and reviews all help to show there are real people who take pride in their work behind the company logo.
What Constitutes ORM?

ORM today is a multifaceted field that includes regular social media monitoring, responding appropriately to comments, blogging, news and website updates, as well as more technical SEO techniques. Today’s internet no longer functions from the “top down”, with business leaders informing customers about their company. It is a grass-roots environment in which everyone has a voice.

Businesses need to create the impression of transparency, allowing customers to feel involved with all parts of the process. Appropriate responses and honest admission of mistakes or lapses in services can minimize the impact of reputation-damaging material and is much more effective than lying to cover up the issue. Beyond this, ORM is about creating a deep reserve of positive, ranking content so that even when negative material makes it onto the SERP, it will be balanced by informational articles about the company and positive testimony from other customers.

ORM is a big task and businesses shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re struggling to establish a positive online reputation for your business, consider working with our team at Reputation Defender.

UK E-mail: uksales@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (+44) 800 131 0700

US E-mail: support@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (888) 851-9609

ORM for Hotels – The Importance of an Online Profile

Nowhere is online reputation management more important than within the hospitality industry. Statistics show that 97 percent of people look at online comments from previous guests when considering a hotel, while 93 percent find this an important way of determining their choice. More than half (53 percent) won’t book a hotel without reading online opinions.

Many hotels don’t establish an ORM strategy until they start receiving negative attention. This is a mistake. Google and other search engines rank content from online travel sites such as Trip Advisor and Expedia highly, so what people are saying about you really does matter. Unless the hotel already has a strong online profile, content from these sites is going to appear prominently on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and this will be the first thing a potential customer sees. It’s impossible to control guests’ opinions, but by optimizing brand-generated content so that it ranks high on page one of the search results, will at least ensure that clients find a balanced representation of the hotel. Responding appropriately to customer comments further decreases the impact as researchers see you are using feedback to make the experience better for everyone.

ORM Strategy

An online reputation management (ORM) strategy needs to be planned and coordinated just like any other marketing campaign. Large hotels often devote an entire department to this effort. Small and medium sized organizations may have fewer resources to employ qualified full-time staff. Working with a third-party can be a cost-effective way of implementing a professional ORM campaign without expanding employee payroll. Reputation Defender has been a global leader in this industry since Michael Fertik founded the company in 2006. We help numerous individual and corporate clients establish their brand’s presence on the internet.

Online Reputation Equals Revenue

A 2015 TripAdvisor survey which investigated more than 10,000 hospitality businesses around the world, found that ORM was a top investment priority for 60 percent of hotels. This was in contrast to small scale renovations which were only a priority for 53 percent and other marketing campaigns which ranked at 51 percent. This study shows that hoteliers are recognizing the strong correlation between positive online reputation and sales volume. A TripAdvisor rating, which is based on the quality and quantity of the recent guest feedback, can have an almost immediate effect on booking, so it’s important to already have positive content posted, especially positive customer testimonials.

Establish an Online Presence

How does a hospitality manager counteract the weight of customer opinion which is now so available and measurable on the internet? Every business will face negative online comments at some point. The key is to build a positive presence through brand generated content, so researchers can see at first glance that the hotel has a lot to offer. It’s not enough to build a professional website and move on to other things. Hoteliers need to maintain a constant stream of up-to-date and relevant content, backed-up by thoughtful and genuine responses to guest feedback.

Here are 5 musts for establishing a hotel’s online profile:

  • Optimize the Brand Name – Promote the hotel’s website with Google Business and claim official profiles on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Connect company blogs and secondary websites on an alternate domain to ensure your content dominates as many results as possible.
  • Post Regularly – Fresh content will rank higher with search engines, so make sure you post regular blog and social media updates. This includes multimedia content such as images and videos. Tag the hotel’s brand name in filenames, titles and alt content so that it ranks for that search term.
  • Set Up Automatic Alerts – It’s important to be the first to know about negative feedback, yet it’s impossible to constantly monitor all social media platforms, especially when you are running a business at the same time. You’ll need an automatic system that directly notifies the hotel when new comments are posted. Someone should monitor this feed during business hours and notify appropriate staff.
  • Analyze Feedback – Figure out what went wrong. Was it a one-time lapse in service, an endemic problem that is likely to happen again, or an unreasonable guest who would not have been satisfied no matter what you did? Knowing whether the root of the problem lies in the service department or within ORM strategies will help you devise an appropriate response that limits similar problems in the future.
  • Work as a Team – Set reputation objectives and share these with staff so that everyone promotes the same cohesive brand message. Put a coordinated team in place to handle monitoring and responses. Make sure everyone posting on official social media profiles exemplifies the same professional style.
Summary

ORM for hotels is about balancing your own content against what customers say about you. Be ready with a strong, positive online profile, whether this is created by your own staff or a third party like Reputation Defender. Once a comment is posted, it’s time for damage control. Respond appropriately and take action to avoid attracting similar criticism. If you have the SERP already filled with positive, brand controlled content, one negative review will have less effect.

Promote Your Business Online – Get a Handle on Online Reviews

Word of mouth used to be one of the most reliable ways to build a business reputation. Satisfied customers recommended businesses to their neighbors and relatives, building long-term loyalty amongst the local population. With the growth of the internet however, all that has changed. Most promotion now takes place online and companies serve a wide geographical area.

Online reviews have largely taken the place of personal word of mouth recommendations. The internet is both a more powerful and a more dangerous medium. Once posted, a written review will be hard to erase and it will be visible to anyone researching your business – even if they are on the other side of the planet. It’s also easy for consumers to post an anonymous review without having to be held accountable for exaggerated or angry comments.

Online reviews can have a big effect on a business’s reputation, both positively and negatively. This is especially true for small companies, who may not have a large online profile to counter the effect of several negative reviews. ReputationDefender is a leader in global online reputation management services, helping business clients generate positive content and construct a resilient brand name. Our experts can help turn online reviews into an asset rather than a threat to your brand’s image.

The Importance of Online Reviews

If you doubt the power of online reviews, look at the following 8 statistics from a cross-section of different studies.

  • 80 percent of customers say they have decided not to purchase a product or service after reading a negative review.
  • 90 percent say reading positive reviews has impacted their decision to buy certain products.
  • 45 percent say they trust online reviews the most when decision making.
  • 92 percent say they’ve made some buying decisions based on online reviews.
  • 67 percent of customers read less than six reviews before making a decision.
  • A three-star versus a four-star rating on Yelp can drop a restaurant’s revenue by 9 percent.
  • 72 percent of internet users believe online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • Online review content carries about 10 percent weight with Google search page rankings.

Figures can vary somewhat from survey to survey and amongst different industries but it’s easy to see that both positive and negative reviews can have a huge impact on your business.

How to Handle Negative Reviews

Every company will face a negative comment at some point. Businesses can often find this frustrating, especially since one upset customer who had a bad experience is more likely to leave a review than one hundred people who had good service and have nothing to complain about.  A desire to withdraw from the situation is natural but unfortunately it is not the best strategy.

Monitoring reviews and responding appropriately will help to diminish their impact more than pretending they do not exist. A simple Google alert can help by letting you know when a new comment about your business is posted. You can also buy or download more complicated software. It is a good idea to follow your competitor’s reviews as well as your own. If a similar business in your area is getting positive reviews, it is going to undercut your clients.

Responding to reviews is generally a good idea, whether they are positive or negative and any justified complaint definitely deserves an explanation. Avoid being defensive; instead accept the comment as constructive criticism. Take responsibility for the problem, explain what went wrong and how you plan to fix the issue in the future. This helps to show you take your clients’ opinions seriously and want to do the best you can. Even if your response doesn’t change the opinion of the original client, others who read the review later will respect your conscientious attitude. Keep your tone professional and avoid getting into an angry back and forth, however the client responds.

Creating more Positive Reviews

Counterintuitively, the best solution to an online review problem is to get more reviews. If everyone leaves a comment, most will be positive, however, when only those who have a negative experience write a review, well, we know what happens. Here are a few suggestions to encourage positive testimonials from your clients:

  • Automatic survey – A short multiple choice survey followed by a comment section is easy to answer and the results will be private to start with. You can post positive statistics from the survey on your website. If customers leave personal feedback make sure you ask for permission before sharing it as a review.
  • Send an Automatic Review Reminder – This is another good way to let clients know you care about their opinions. Automatic review requests will up your overall review numbers so one or two negative comments will be less likely to affect your average.
  • Create an incentive – Organize a contest for clients who respond to your request for a testimonial. You can ask for a short description or a picture of how they use your product and what your business means to them. Give away free or discounted services as a prize and encourage participants to follow you and learn the results on social media. This will help you gain followers, as well as give you more genuine positive comments to use on your website and review pages. Make sure to ask for permission before publishing anything, especially an image or video.

Remember there is no way to create a positive online reputation overnight. It is something that can only be built slowly over time. But actively promoting positive comments, whilst at the same time developing a good sense of how to respond to negative ones, will get your business off to a good start.

Click here for more information on how to turn negative reviews into an asset.