More than ever before, consumers have avenues for rating, reviewing, and seeking information about businesses and brands. Review sites and even Google searches make it easy for individuals to seek out feedback and testimonials about various products and services — and while that is largely a positive development for consumers, it presents a unique set of challenges to companies. Simply put, what the Internet says about your business or brand dictates public opinion, and informs consumer purchasing behavior. It can make or break your company.
The question every business ought to consider, then, is this: Who does the Internet say you are? Does an online search reveal your company to be one of esteem, or one of ill repute? You might or might not like the answer, but the good news is that you do not have to settle for your corporate online reputation as-is.
There are steps that can be taken to optimize your brand’s online reputation, and to protect your online image against defamation and attack.
The Right Domains Protect Against Online Attack
The simple reality of commerce in the digital age is that, sooner or later, your business may come under attack — and not just the company itself, but even its top executives. Disgruntled ex-employees, cutthroat business rivals, and unreasonable consumers may try to come after you with words of defamation. These words can sink your brand’s online reputation, but businesses can protect themselves from attack by building a strong, defensive wall — a wall made up of positive online assets, which present the brand in the best light possible.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to snatch up domains that are associated with your brand identity; the best domain name for a company called XYZ Widgets, of course, is going to be XYZWidgets.com. While this does not necessarily offer major organic search benefits, it is true enough that this is a domain that people will likely use, when seeking information on your company — so it is vital to snatch up these matching domain names (also the .org and .net variants) and have them all routed to one domain, which your business operates under. The bottom line is that consumers will consult these domains for information on your company, so you want to make sure that you, and not your enemies, have control over these important URLs.
Content and Keywords Go Hand-in-Hand
With that singular domain secured, businesses can turn to the important work of filling it with strong content. It is critical to come up with content that engages readers — or else, the search engines will not reward it with high rankings — but it is equally important to include the keywords you are seeking to rank for (in most cases, just the name of your brand, and perhaps the names of top executives). Include the applicable keyword in the title of each page, and also throughout the body of the text; the best practice is to aim for a keyword density of between 2-3 percent. Note that, in the interest of allowing the content to appear “organic” to the search engines, it is a good idea to vary the length of each page of content you produce.
Social Media is a Critical Component
Now, you have secured and optimized the necessary online entity; the next step is to do the same for social media accounts. Again, securing matching account names on different social platforms is vital. Do this not only for your brand, but also for your top executives. Locking in these social media profiles is an important step for much the same reason that it is important to claim those online domains; that is, by staking out these all-important avenues of online interaction, companies can prevent their enemies or rivals from using these resources against them.
Creating Real Social Media Activity Boosts Success
Finally, focus your efforts on creating real social media activity — which is to say, getting actual followers and fans, engaging and interacting with your brand on a daily basis. Seeking to game the system by paying for followers and fans seldom works; instead, create the right social cues by filling your social media profiles with the kinds of content that will attract likes, retweets, re-pins, and the like. These social cues are vitally important for keeping these social media accounts ranking high atop online search results pages, and for cultivating goodwill toward your brand more generally.
Worth noting: For brands seeking to leverage social media platforms for reputation management purposes, the highest-ranking and most effective options are Facebook Fan pages, Twitter accounts, Pinterest accounts, and Google+ pages.
Where Does it All Begin?
Ultimately, online reputation management is an expansive, ongoing process — and for businesses that are new to this concept, it can all seem very daunting. For those wondering where to begin, visit ReputationChanger.com, and use the company’s online reputation Command Center for free. This service will allow companies to assess their online image, and to make the first steps toward controlling it. By taking your business’ online reputation seriously, you can effectively set the narrative — and guide public opinion — about your company.