You’ve come a long way since you started your humble business. After so many years, all your sacrifices have paid off. You’ve built a large clientele, ensuring that your venture won’t be out of business any time soon. Nothing could go wrong. Except Google shows the nastiest of feedback on your company.
No matter if the comments are true or not, negative publicity on the internet has a direct impact on a business. Sooner or later, just like a virus, bad press will weaken a company until such time when nobody would even want to do business with it. All those years of excellent service, down the drain, just because of a number one-ranked Google listing of a negative review.
The First Step: Defense Strategy
Marketing has gone through major changes, mostly brought about by the many advancements in internet technology. More specifically, Google’s search mechanism dictates which companies have a wider net to gather the most audience. Assuming that 2006’s data by America On-Line is still relevant, a company that is listed on the front page of Google gathers almost 90% of the hits from users. Therefore, it is imperative that any mention of the company in the first page should all be favorable.
Being proactive in controlling your reputation online is not recommended, it is imperative. Paul O’Reilly wrote in the Verizon page that the initial step in safeguarding your online reputation is by making yourself your own monitoring service by setting up all your social page notification alert. “Even if you have set up several of these alerts, make sure you Google yourself regularly to see what else might be out there,” the article noted.
Do not think of reputation management in the same was as promotions or advertisements. Think of it as the first and most important course of action in marketing. It’s a defense strategy.
Managing Online Reviews
Here are a few pointers on how to optimally control and manage online reputation when it comes to user or customer reviews.
- Search far and wide. It is important that the first few listings (most usually reviews from top PR websites such as Yelp!) are positive feedback. However, a wider range should be extended from social media, discussion forums, Reddit and others.
- Don’t try to game the system. It’s easy to fall into the temptation of just hiring writers to create bogus reviews and content for your company. First of all, this is ethically wrong. Second of all, if you get caught, then Google will ensure that you get placed back into the totem pole.
- Timely reviews are your best bet. Although Google doesn’t specifically announce their algorithms for search, a general rule for promoting content is to make sure they are relevant and timely. Also, with the advent of social media, up-to-date reviews are far more likely to get shared and spread than general or outdated write-ups.
- Quantity and quality. Never settle for one or the other. There’s a reason why so much fuzz revolves around the number of ratings or reviews on apps in Apple or Google’s app stores.
Tools for Tracking Online Reputation
There exists a plethora of tools to gauge the positive or negative feedback your brand might be getting online. Here are some of them.
- Google Alerts – an email subscription that reports web results from blogs, news, images, and video for your manual assessment. Yahoo! Alerts does the same thing.
- Twitter – the easiest way to check out candid feedback from customers is to do a search on this social networking site. Across all social media platforms, however, Social Mention works wonders.
- Trackur – a much more sophisticated version of Google Alerts which allows you to sort and tag feeds. Each small startup should invest in this online feed to keep track of what their customers are thinking and saying.
(Image courtesy of Dellphotos)