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.

How to Salvage Your Shattered Reputation

Small town gossip has nothing on the Internet. Historically, people may have whispered about infidelities to their neighbors or aired their opinions about a shady business deal on coffee-row.  With the advent of technology, however, that changed drastically and now people can post a comment or write a blog that goes viral.

Like the nebulous cloud where information is stored, bad publicity is difficult to control and/or delete. Unless that is, you have connections with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Israeli Mossad or the Russian Glavnoye Razvedyvate’noye Upravleniye (GRU.)

What to do? What to do?

You Google, Bing or Yahoo your name or that of your company or business and — gasp, shock, horror – some negative comments appear on the screen. What should you do next? Screaming at the computer won’t work. Neither will grabbing a bottle to Scotch.

First of all, take a deep breath. Secondly, hope it is not as bad a situation as you initially thought. Thirdly, call in the experts to help if you don’t think you can handle it. And, frankly, most people can’t.  

How to use a reputation service

The first question to ask is “What, exactly, is a reputation service?”  The second is “Why do I need one?” The third is “How can a reputation service help me?”

The 25-word summary is that a reputation service can assist you because they can “bury” any negative publicity about you found on the Internet.

If you run a pet shop in Kansas, chances are you likely don’t have a need for a reputation service. Unless that is, you get done for selling poisonous food that killed numerous pets. Once CNN arrives, it is unlikely anyone – even a top-notch reputation service – can do much. Get out of Dodge; change your name; move to Milwaukie.

For people who haven’t made the national news, there are measures that can be taken to restore a tattered reputation.

People who need/want/can use a reputation service include business people, physicians, lawyers and various other professionals. Negative comments of any kind can have an immediate and adverse effect on your reputation, your business and, consequently, your income.

Image courtesy of Marc-Andre Lariviere at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Marc-Andre Lariviere at Flickr.com

What do “they” have to say?

Consider for a moment that you are going to take your significant other out for a special meal to celebrate whatever. You scan through the lists of restaurants, including those recommended by friends.

You have heard that a place is great, but the first thing you see is the comment “Don’t eat here, the food is like poison.” Are you going to:

  •    pick up the phone and make a reservation?
  •    bother to scroll through another five pages of glowing comments?
  •    call the restaurant to hear the management side of the story?
  •    none of the above.

Remember that anyone with access to a computer and an email address can leave an unjustified comment about you, your business or your services. While you can’t stop them from writing whatever, a reputation service can help you control the damage.

Increasingly, there are reports coming out about customers holding businesses to ransom. The attitude of “If I can’t get a complimentary room upgrade I will leave a negative comment on hotel review sites” seems to be on the rise.

Again, that is where a reputation service come to the rescue.

How to understand the process

In the digital age, we are quick to move on – it only takes a click – and not bother to investigate any further. So to preserve your Internet reputation you have to set up a process to ensure the positive comments come to the top of the search engine results while the negative ones slide back into the double and triple digit pages.

A reputation service can help by following a tried and true process. First of all, they will meet with you to find out what your goals are and how best to achieve them. Next, the consultants will come up with a strategy plan for how to best address the issues.

The “secret” is to provide content – which you approve prior to publication, of course — that ranks highly with the search engines. This moves any negative comments about you or your business to page 33.

Really, when was the last time you bothered to search that far about anything? Even your competitors aren’t going to scroll through that many pages. And even if they do, what does it matter as nobody else is probably going to read it? It is “buried six-feet under,” so to speak.

The new and positive content then does its work through page position. It pushes back the negative by highlighting helpful comments and by encouraging good search results. Materials can be tailored to suit specific situations.

The result of working with a reputation service is that you can Bing, Yahoo or Google your name – or that of your company – and see only positive results.

And remember that your reputation online is as important as your reputation about town. So call on reputations services when you need them to help you keep your image clean. Then breathe a sigh of relief as it can be done.

How to handle negative reputation

A good reputation is critical for any business.  Nowadays with the unlimited access consumers have to search engines, social networks and reviewing sites, reputation management is a priority to businesses that want to turn negative experiences and comments into opportunities to enhance their company’s reputation.   

Before dealing with how to respond to bad online reviewing, the main reasons why your company might be receiving negative comments can vary.  Some of them are:

  • Dissatisfied clients because they were offered a bad service or received a low quality product.
  • Lack of a professional corporate image that conveys a wrong perception of your business.  It lacks quality and professionalism in social media profiles.  It might use inaccurate information, bad advertising and photos.  Profiles should be updated, clear and in optimal conditions.
  • Incoherence in the services offered or the skills advertised versus the reality of the company.
  • Lack of interaction.  Having a cold, boring and distant image is one of the mistakes made by some companies.  There must be interaction with the community.  Clients want to know more about the people behind the business.  They want to trust before starting any commercial relation.  
  • Spam is an abusive way of relating to clients.  Social networking should be a space to relate, share and connect with clients.  It informs the public of your services as well.  When a company overwhelms clients with advertisements, sales and other sorts of information on their potential clients’ personal profiles and emails, it is detrimental to the company’s reputation online.  

REACTING TO BAD REVIEWS

Not all cases of bad reviews come from the same motives.  Not at all bad reviews are even legitimate or fair.  The next tips illustrate some cases when addressing a discontented client is paramount and others that are not.  

You need to truly make amends:  Offer genuine apology if your company sold a defective product or offered a bad service.  Also, when a client is legitimately upset about this, the best way to react is to engage them and offer the best to compensate.  It does not cost much to offer a positive experience to a disapproving client.  It cost more for the company to be devastated by constant unresolved bad reviews.

Be careful with “agreeing-to-bad-reviews” customers: single reviews that are not a big deal in themselves become a huge issue when other clients agree with the negative situation they are presenting.  Therefore, they join a force of “me too” responses that gain momentum and have greater capacity to cause damage to your business reputation.  Do not allow the fire of discontentment to spread its consuming flames.  Address the source immediately.  Compensation can dissipate any the smoke of displeasure.  

When a person is angry at everything, do not take it personal:  some days there are some customers that just wake up in the wrong side of the bed, not to mention they are angry at virtually everything.  The record of the negative comment might remain but engaging the person only attracts more unnecessary attention.  If the comment is not offensive or defamatory, there is no need to invest much effort into it.  Hopefully, sufficient positive comments resulting from proactive management will counteract any bad review.

Image courtesy of Laurel Papworth at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Laurel Papworth at Flickr.com

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO BAD REVIEWS?

The first action to take before responding to any bad reviewing is having a monitoring system for your social media in the first place. Additionally, popular consumer reviewing sites should be checked constantly for finding out what people are saying about your business.  Set Google alerts and use other tracking tools to receive reports on your online management performance.

The next thing to do is observing.  Reading negative comments will never be a fun thing to do, but they can inform you of procedures your company has to work on or improve.  It the review comes from an arbitrary motive, with no foundation at all, then it is best to let it go.  

When a situation has been identified and requires addressing, diplomacy is a fundamental skill.  Any defensive, offensive, aggressive or sarcastic comment will only make matters worse.  The review can be addressed privately or publicly depending on the nature of the offense.  Whatever is advantageous for guarding your reputation and for the client’s easiness should be implemented.   

Finally and as mentioned before, the best answer to a bad review usually is admitting your mistake in the area that was made. Including a desire to make it right and resolving the situation can ease the attitude of an angry customer.  

If you are truly committed to your or your company’s reputation online, consistence will be evident.  Clients that see constant online feedback perceive that the staff in the company cares about them and feel more inclined to being loyal to your brand.  Bad online reputation that is dealt with effectively and consistently can be turned into a positive learning process for your company.   

Essential Aspects Your Company Needs To Know On Reputation Management

As a business owner or a hard-working individual, you would probably feel you are all over the place with sales, projects, money and hundreds of other things you need to worry about. There is no time for an extra thing. However, being concerned about your reputation, especially what people are saying about you or your business online is not a thing to take lightly.  As a matter of fact, it is paramount and necessary to grow your business.  Let us look at the next examples and see how reputation management is critical in the following situations:

Senior executives are fired as a result of the spread of youthful mistakes of the past. The Reputation of large companies plummets in a matter of few hours because of a negative article in the news. Small businesses find their clientele is decreasing strangely because the first pieces of information that appear in Google search are critical destructive reviews and comments on anonymous forums. Is there a common ground in these situations?  There is something to consider indeed.  There is a lack of proactivity and use of strategies in the management of online reputation. This neglect in dealing with the seriousness of reputation management is fatal when a crisis emerges.

What could have been done differently?

If a senior executive had been careful about monitoring his personal reputation and information, he would have been notified of the existence of online available files and content from his former life before being appointed as a senior executive.  Understanding the potential danger, he could have reacted on time, using tools available to face this uncalled for situation.

If the large company had planned and structured a team to supervise and work on all the company’s social media channels, a timely reaction would have taken place, most likely publishing the corresponding explanations in their web, and then spreading them in the social media to counteract the effects of the reputation crisis.  

If a small business had had their own well-designed, updated and customized website ready for the search engines, it would have appeared in the top searches and therefore the online traffic would have been well informed of the brand’s strengths.  Additionally, if monitoring procedures had been carried out, the person or area in charge would have been able to react to negative reviews and comments in the forum, having an opportunity to vindicate the brand’s image among users. In summary, these individuals or companies could have protected their reputation if they had developed and implemented a concise strategy for online reputation management.  

If we understood the online reputation phenomenon, we would see that clients and businesses in general are using the internet more and more to research individuals, businesses and their products to even consider buying, hiring or finding out more about their service. Ideally, if customers are satisfied, if your product or services are excellent, you will not have trouble in the internet world.  However, because no one is perfect, almost everyone or every business, one time or another has to defend their brand, their products, their service, their position before potential clients and competitors.  Whether you are an individual or a company, you need to be prepared when negative comments come your way.

The next questions will help individuals and companies understand where they are concerning their reputation:

  • Does your company website and social media channels represent your business in the best possible way?
  • Do you know that you can monitor what people are saying about your business in the social media?
  • Do you care about what people say about your company in review sites?
  • Do you understand how much damage one tweet or a comment from an employee or a client can really do to the company’s reputation?
  • Do you think once a reputation is ruined, it is not possible to be salvaged? Can we say there is such a thing as a “lost cause” when dealing with reputation management?
  • Do you have as a top priority to appoint an individual or a team that manages the company’s reputation and set procedures to implement when crises arise?
Image courtesy of Mark Smiciklas at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Mark Smiciklas at Flickr.com

In brief, having the appropriate tools that allow a company to stay in control of all its brand mentions should be a priority.  Small business owners might believe that they do not need any sort of social media monitoring because their online activity is low, or not many people talk about them, but this cannot be farther from the truth.  

Finally, using the assistance of reputation management services can be a great mechanism for individuals and businesses that are concerned about maintaining a positive online presence, so when clients and other potential customers, competitors and influencers search for the brand online they can only find positive and relevant information.

Reputation and crisis management: a company’s concern.

Internet has become one of the main sources to obtain information about brands, public or private organizations and businesses in general.  It is sort of like an open door to access a company’s image and reputation.  Not only credibility and a respected reputation are built with time and effort, but also a company’s reputation is very likely its most valuable asset.  With this in mind and understanding that at some point businesses and organizations are prone to face some reputational issues of different complexity degrees, what is your business doing to manage and control its presence in the digital world? Dealing with a crisis, particularly in the massive and expanding online environment, where people can easily encourage your success or reveal your mistakes, might be a bit of a challenge for businesses.   Here are some insights on the matter.

WHAT IS A REPUTATION MANAGEMENT CRISIS?

A crisis triggered, for example, by the social network interaction, blog posts and news articles, is a situation that emerges as a consequence of an uncontrollable event.  Frequently, in these sort of crises people help the problem escalate by adding negative remarks, filling the gaps with rumors and speculations.  These can have a negative impact that can have lasting effects on the brand’s reputation or profits if the situation is not addressed promptly or effectively.    

  • LET’S DO SOME PLANNING

Reputation management in the digital world starts with a thorough planning of the image your business or organization wishes to convey, defining specific actions to reach that goal.  It also means developing a broad crisis management plan to be prepared when or if it occurs.  Being prepared in advance is the best way to be ready in order to resolve any issue.  Here are some questions to consider when analyzing potential situations:

    • What risks are threatening your business or organization?
    • Do you have a plan to respond to those threats if they ever come to pass?
    • Are your employees and teams trained to face these issues?

These also are some questions that will guide you through the process of evaluating and creating a response strategy.

    • Do you understand the expectations your company’s audience, targeted groups and the general public have?
    • Does your plan address effectively those expectations?
    • Are your communication strategies enough to tackle the possible situations?
  • WATCHING FOR THE SIGNS

The social network, we find, is one of the main factors influencing online reputation because it provides firsthand opinions, experiences, suggestions, complains and other situations and comments that should be considered when managing communication that is focused to tackle issues in digital reputation. When a storm is coming you see the signs.  In like manner, incoming crises show signs first, and can be seen in social media.

Currently there are different tools for measuring reputation online and notifying when something is amiss.  From Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts to SocialMention.  Also, each social network has their own tools like Twitter Search or other tools that require payment like Radian6, Trackur, Socialseel, Webtrends, etc. The idea is to develop and alert system that will inform you of your company’s online performance and thus have more effective control of your brand.  Use the array of tools offered to monitor and manage reputation.

  • LEVEL OF RESPONSE

Different incidents require different but appropriate actions.  Not all crises will require the same response.  That is why it is important to develop categories for the types of crises that can potentially occur, their level of importance and priority, and then provide some possible responses to the problems accordingly.  Some issues might require a public explanation, apology or restitution.  Other issues do not require public addressing at all, or might require a private one.  If your business has a quick crisis response, this attitude will possibly avoid problem escalation.

Image courtesy of wistechcolleges at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of wistechcolleges at Flickr.com

 Final considerations

The truth of the matter is that the topic of solving crises in reputation management is an ongoing learning process.  Businesses and organizations are learning to respond with each and every new or unexpected issue.  Not all is set in stone due to the ever changing nature of social networks and the digital world in general.  One thing is certain though:  having a strong reputation management strategy to provide effective response during crises is a great way to start. A well-developed crisis management plan can make a difference between your organization’s success or future failure.  Do not leave your company unprepared or unprotected.  

Remember it is not about what the companies and organizations say about their own business and performance.  Reputation depends on what others say about them.  With a very well built and administered communication strategy and management plan the company can be protected against risks, prevent crises and build trust among its target audience.