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7 quick fixes to improve your online brand reputation
We are increasingly digital. Following the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions on physical contact, many of us had to turn to digital platforms for work, socialising, shopping and other critical elements of our lifestyles. In 2020, UK internet use doubled as a result.
With the public more present online than ever before, it makes sense that your business needs to be here to target potential leads where they are spending their time. However, when building your digital presence, you want to make sure people come across you for the right reasons. This is where your online reputation comes in.
In today’s world, it’s easier than ever for consumers to uncover information about a brand before they commit to a purchasing decision. Research from America found that 81% of people do so.
With so much emphasis on online research, you need carefully build a reputation that ensures customers gain a favourable view of your business online, encouraging them to make that purchase. If they find negative stories instead, it could lead them to choose your competitors instead.
We have put together our top seven quick fixes to enable you to improve your online brand reputation with the effect of leaving a positive, lasting impression of your brand for all potential customers.
Understand your reputation
The first step in managing your online reputation is understanding what people see when they search for your business. From here, you can gain insight into your existing position and what adjustments may need to be made to better win over customers.
There are many tools you can use to monitor brand reputation. The easiest – and what should be your first step – is to search your brand name into Google to see what comes up in the results. Typical results will include your website, social media profiles, directory listings, news stories about you and review sites.
While doing this, you want to pay particular attention to any negative results that may appear, such as poor reviews or forum posts complaining about your business. This is especially significant if they appear in the first few pages of the results, as this is where your potential customers are most likely to look. It’s also worth trying different branded searches, such as names of products you sell or abbreviations of your brand name.
A secondary source of insight is social listening. There are two ways to undertake social listening. The first is to monitor all your social profiles to see what your customers and followers are saying to you when they are engaging with you in comments, posts and mentions. The second is to search your brand in the social media channel’s search function to find out what people say about you even if they aren’t directly tagging you into the conversation.
By using both direct and indirect social listening methods, in conjunction with search engine results, you can get a comprehensive view of how people react to your brand as well as your competitors. If there is a high level of negative sentiment, and depending on what feedback you are getting, the first port of call is to feed this information back to the relevant business managers within your organisation to see whether improvements can be made to your products and services to help better meet with your customers expectations.
Otherwise, it’s time to implement tactics to help boost and manage your reputation.
Use Google My Business
If your branded search results don’t look too healthy, a quick fix might be to implement Google My Business. GMB can be an excellent tool for local SEO, helping people to find you when they are nearby, so if geography is important to your business and if you want to be found by a local audience, then you need to be present on it. Most importantly, it can help improve what people see when searching for you on the world’s largest search engine, because a GMB listing will automatically appear at the top of the page when somebody searches your business.
The GMB listing itself will feature in the right-hand corner on desktop, while on mobile it will usually be the first or second result (after your website). Due to this, it’s often the very first thing a user sees – so you want to make sure it gives accurate and positive information about you.
First, make sure your GMB listing has the correct details, including your name, address and contact details. This will help customers to find you and present the right messages to avoid any confusion. You can also list what services you offer to give a better idea of what your business is about, as well as photos.
GMB also comes with a reviews section where people can leave feedback about your business. As the feedback score features so prominently on the SERPs, you want to get this score as high as possible to get a beneficial impact to your business. This may mean approaching loyal customers and asking them to leave a review (they just need a Google account to do so) and handling any negative reviews that may appear to mitigate the risk.
It’s worth noting that there is a ‘question and answer’ section also included with your GMB listing, where customers might ask for more information about you. In some cases, this can almost double up as a reviews section if customers use it to ask damaging questions. It’s essential to monitor and reply to these in a timely and appropriate manner. It’s also a great way to provide answers to frequently asked questions, which can help users learn more about you.
Create a reviews strategy
As we have already mentioned, review sites will feature prominently in your SERPs, whether it’s through Google My Business or independent sites like TrustPilot and Reviews.co.uk. Reviews can also feature on social media profiles, such as Facebook, and you may host them as part of your site. With reviews found in so many places online and their role in the buying journey, it’s essential to nail your strategy so that you can help to nurture reviews that paint your brand in a more positive light.
The first part of a solid strategy is to ensure that you have regular reviews coming in. Be brave and invite your customers to rate their experience as soon as, or shortly after they’ve purchased with you whilst the memory of their experience is close to mind. This can be achieved through email follow-up or through reminders when they visit you in person. You can also incentivise the process of making a review, by offering a discount code or entry into a prize draw for example, to encourage a customer to share their experience.
Remember to concentrate your efforts on those review sites that need the most considerable boost or those that feature most prominently in the SERP. If you are present on multiple review sites, aim to divide any invites you send between each site to ensure consistently good reviews at every touchpoint a potential lead may come across.
While in an ideal world, everyone would only have good things to say about your business, it’s almost impossible to avoid the occasional negative review. As such, it’s equally as essential to deal with the bad reviews as it is to try and secure good ones. By responding to reviews, you can put across your side of the story, as well as demonstrate to your audiences that you are proactive in addressing issues and doing what you can to improve the customer’s experience. This shows you care about your customers, which can help to repair any reputational damage done.
Create a process for managing the reviews left by customers. Firstly, reviews should be regularly monitored and responded to within a set time frame such as 24 hours. You will also want to make sure that those members of your team responsible for handling the reviews, are trained to do so, and in a consistent manner with an emphasis on being polite, helpful and remembering the age-old rule that the customer is always right. It’s effectively an extension to your more traditional customer services facility and must be taken just as seriously.
Similarly, you should also encompass in your strategy, the handling of any direct messages or comments you may receive through your social media channels to ensure all customers are being responded to in a consistent manner, no matter where or how they contact you. Unfortunately, this may include handling trolls – but being proactive can stop comments spiralling out of control and leading to a PR disaster. This will also reduce the risk of complaints progressing and show others that they can rely on your customer services.
In the modern age, customers expect brands to be present on social media. We’ve already discussed how this can be a platform for reviews and research for buyers and a way to communicate with businesses when they need to find out more. You need to be available on the platforms that your potential audiences might be using so that they can find you at the time that they are looking.
Identify the channels that your customers are using based on insight and research. You don’t necessarily need to be available on every social media platform out there, but you do need to build a presence on the ones that matter to your business.
Once you’ve selected your social media channels, you need to ensure it portrays your brand in the right way. This means utilising consistent branding across your online profiles (including your website) and crafting a regular posting strategy that delivers clear, positive messages about your business and who you are.
If you aren’t visible on the platforms that customers expect you to be on, then quite simply, you will miss out. Your audiences will find it more difficult to interact with you – making their preferred buyer journey much more difficult, particularly if online research forms part of that. It can also undermine your legitimacy and make it harder for people to find out anything about you, which can deter customers.
By being present, you are sending a clear message that you are open for business and are embracing engagement which can not only help users to find out more about you, but you can actively deliver marketing messages to them as they scroll through their feed and start conversations.
Work with influencers
Although they may sometimes find themselves in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, influencers are a quickfire way to get traction online. These individuals often have thousands, if not millions, of followers on social media, so getting them to feature your brand on their account can expand your reach dramatically.
While the results can be seismic, it is essential to get your influencer marketing activity right. There have been plenty of cases when business and influencer partnerships have gone sour and finding someone who can act as a trustworthy brand ambassador can provide more meaningful metrics than just signing up the latest reality TV star. By selecting someone who aligns with your values and appeals to your target audience, you can build trust, increase conversion rates and enjoy better cost-effectivity.
By working with influencers in a sensible and considerate fashion, you can experience all the benefits – including higher traffic, publicity and engagement – while still maintaining a consistent brand reputation and attracting customers who are a good fit.
Enhance your SEO
For most businesses with an online presence, one of the leading routes that customers come to you through is search engines. 3.5 billion searches happen on Google every day, including those from people who are looking for businesses just like yours. You need to ensure you are featured in the relevant places so that those audiences that are searching, find you, not your competitor, and this is achieved through great SEO.
By optimising your website for search, you will feature higher on the SERPs. With 25% of people clicking the first organic result (dropping to 15.7% for the second result and as low as 2.5% for result number ten), getting that top spot is the best way to bring traffic to your site and convert it into new customers.
In your bid to enhance your SEO, you need to ensure you appear for all the relevant keywords someone could use to find your site. This includes questions and phrases related to the products and services you provide. Spend time undertaking keyword research to find out what these may be and how many people are searching for them, then optimising your website copy and content to target those phrases. You should focus on providing value to the people who may be searching and answering their questions fully.
SEO can also be impacted by several other factors, such as the useability of your website and load speeds. So, be sure to create a website that delivers a smooth brand experience that guides your potential customer seamlessly from page to page as they move towards a purchase decision. You can find tools that will carry out SEO audits of your brand, which can help you identify any fixes required to boost your SERPs position.
Notably, SEO adjustments can take a while to have an effect – sometimes as much as six months. However, many of the mistakes a business makes in this area can be easily fixed. Doing it well can bring huge advantages, such as more traffic and better online visibility, shaping your reputation and converting customers.
Circulate good news stories
During your mission to improve your brand reputation, it’s crucial to shine a complimentary light on your business. The best way to do this is to identify good news stories and push them into the public eye.
A good news story could be anything from talking about a charitable cause that your business has helped, or an innovation that your company has developed or maybe even just a celebration, such as reaching a milestone or achievement like 50 years in business. Essentially, you want to find stories that capture the attention of readers while promoting your brand.
Studies have found that people enjoy reading good news, particularly when bad news tends to dominate. As such, publications are usually happy to cover it if the angle is right, meaning you can enjoy press coverage and increased exposure from an engaging story. This can lead potential customers to your business and help you make a name for yourself.
Many publications will post an online version of any print articles they feature, which can turn press coverage into digital resources that appear in the SERPs. You can also work with digital publications and blogs to enhance your reputation in the digital sphere.
As you build this over time, through an effective PR strategy, more positive results will appear when users search for your brand. Further, you can share these stories to your website and social media profiles to improve your reputation there. This will also improve your SEO by generating backlinks to your site.
Remember – always ensure that any stories that you share about your brand must align with your values and ethos. This will create consistent messaging about your business, giving an apparent sense of who you are and how customers should feel, helping you manufacture the reputation you want.
With the heightened emphasis on digital in all of our lives, it has never been so significant for businesses to be present online and deliver a favourable, lasting impression. It takes only one negative comment, review or story to compromise a person’s opinion of your brand, but implementing the appropriate tactics can mitigate the risk and help to repair any damage.
By having strategies in place that help you share good news, respond to reviews, remain present on the channels your customers are using and stay at the top of the SERPs, you can build and maintain a positive brand reputation. This can prove a helpful tool in converting leads into loyal customers.
It also ensures people are finding you for the right reasons and never the wrong ones.