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.

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.