If you believe that your brand reputation is something that is outside your control, and that all you can do is look on and hope for the best, you are probably condemning yourself and your company to serious oblivion. It is true that it is all too easy to feel helpless if you see negative or damaging search results attached to your brand name. However, there is plenty you can do, and you must if you are to survive.
Keep at the top
There are two aspects to managing your online reputation. The easier aspect is keeping your brand name at the top of the search results. As experts have pointed out, if you are going to manage your brand reputation, you have to have one in the first place. Consumers tend to assume subconsciously that the brands at the top of the results are the best. This means that you need to work at ensuring you have top rankings in the search results, and a high visibility on social media platforms.
The harder part
The other side of the process is certainly more difficult, and this is where you can be tempted to feel helpless. Very few businesses have escaped the experience of finding first page results containing negative reviews or blog posts, or even positive reviews and blog posts negated by hostile comments. Unfortunately, these can sometimes be orchestrated by your competitors. Moreover, the risk of this has increased since the advent of Google’s suggestion box. If people repeatedly type in your brand name followed by the words scam or scandal, this will soon appear in the suggestion box, and people will click on it, sending it higher up the rankings. Check out our blog post that suggests how to improve Ukraine’s image on Google prior to Euro 2012.
Plenty to do
Contrary to what you may feel, there is plenty you can do to repair your online reputation. In the first place, you can use positive content which already exists on blog posts, reviews and social media sites. Launch an aggressive SEO campaign and get your content into the top 20. Secondly, there are techniques you can use with fresh content. You can create your company profiles on social networking sites, join forum discussions, and start new blogs. It is also important to keep an eye on consumer reviews, bearing in mind that customers often check them before deciding on their choice of a product or service. By persistent and aggressive campaigning, you can push the adverse content down the search results, and get it replaced with the positive material.
Never forget that as long as you are allowing others to define you or your company, you are putting them in control rather than yourself. By adopting a deliberate strategy of replacing the negative information with positive, you are actually establishing, or regaining, control of your brand reputation management. This requires good SEO skills, but is crucial for your future success and profitability.
Author: Jean Ryan
Since 1995 Jean has been writing professionally for an advertising agency as a freelance copywriter. She is an active member of her local advertising and public relations board, and spends her free time counseling friends and family on the importance of online reputation management.