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A bad online reputation can be costly for any business. Customers search Google, review websites, and social channels before buying. If they find negative comments or bad reviews, they’ll simply move on to another option.
On the flip side, a positive reputation makes you stand out from the competition—ensuring both new and prospective customers choose your business over the rest. If your current online reputation is less than perfect, this guide will teach you how to fix it.
Five Steps to Repair Your Online Reputation
Totally eliminating bad press about your business may not be 100% possible, but it’s important to do as much as you can. It can be costly in many ways to ignore it. However, there are steps you can take to position yourself in a positive light and minimize the impact of the bad information out there.
The overall goal of any reputation repair strategy is to generate positive content about your business and have that content rank high in search engine results. This positive content then pushes the negative content off page one of search results and onto later pages where almost nobody bothers to look.
Here are the steps to take to do that:
- Claim All Your Online Business Profiles
- Monitor What Is Being Said About Your Business Online
- Request The Removal Of Negative Information
- Harness The Power Of SEO
- Engage, Engage, Engage
We’ll walk you through each of these steps later in this article.
The Easy Parts of Online Reputation Repair
While there’s no quick fix to improve your online reputation, there are a few things you can do right away to build a foundation for turning your online reputation around. It’s an ongoing process that takes time and effort, so be prepared for some work.
One of the easiest things to do is claim all social media accounts and online accounts, such as Google Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, on behalf of your business. Claiming these accounts gives you a steady online presence. The pages will begin to rank higher in search results, and customers will have a legitimate place to leave positive reviews—more on that last one later.
Next, you can set up Google Alerts for your business name. You can set your alerts to deliver notifications weekly, daily, or as they happen. Armed with early notice, you can quickly deal with any potentially damaging information.
If online reputation management is new to you, check out our beginner’s guide to managing your online reputation for more tips and information. You’ll get some context about the nuts and bolts of building and maintaining a good reputation.
Of course, for anyone who wants to leave reputation repair to the professionals, many capable services are available to assist. One of my favorites is WebiMax. They’ve been helping businesses fix online reputation issues for years with proven results.
WebiMax specializes in helping businesses with reputation management and other digital marketing services. They offer a customized solution for every client—no cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all approaches here.
WebiMax also ensures total confidentiality with a non-disclosure agreement. So nobody ever knows you’re using a third party for reputation management.
Every new client also benefits from a free comprehensive reputation analysis to understand where and how your brand needs help. This analysis includes a realistic timeline for goal achievement, reports on negative and positive online content, a list of unclaimed online profiles, and a custom price quote.
The Difficult Parts of Online Reputation Repair
While claiming all your online profiles is relatively easy, it is much harder to effectively manage all of them day in and day out. This is a full-time role in many companies.
When you are spending significant time on trying to repair your online reputation, you may experience frustration with how slowly the process is going. Understand that achieving results through this process is going to take a while, but it will be worth it in the long run. Think of it as making an investment in your future, even if you are not receiving immediate benefits.
Likewise, understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and effectively incorporating it into your content is another big hurdle for many businesses. Again, this is a specialized area that requires knowledge and experience to do well.
Yet SEO is a crucial part of successfully turning your negative online reputation around, since pushing negative information further down in search results is a big way to improve your online presence. Good SEO helps your positive content rank high which leaves no room on the first page of search results for negative information.
Of course, in order to succeed in burying negative information about your business, it’s not enough just to have a solid SEO strategy. You must also publish fresh, new content on a regular basis, content that is both helpful to readers and aligned with the SEO strategy you just came up with. Whether this content looks like a weekly blog post, regular press releases, or some other form of communication, many companies don’t have the bandwidth or in-house expertise to do this well.
If all of this work sounds daunting, that’s because it can be. Many companies, especially those without the skills or resources in-house to tackle these tasks, turn to online reputation management companies for assistance.
A full-service company, like WebiMax, can manage all facets of online reputation repair, including the tough tasks like SEO, online engagement management, and content creation.
WebiMax is a complete digital marketing agency, experienced in handling all aspects of building and maintaining a positive online presence for your business. They do the hard work and let you focus on doing what you do best–running your company.
Step 1: Claim All Your Online Business Profiles
The first thing to do to start your reputation cleanup process is to inventory your existing online business profiles and identify any you haven’t yet claimed. This ensures that customers and potential customers can find information about you easily, while also offering them an easy place to leave reviews.
Choose the social media channels most important to your business, and make sure you have complete profiles on each. Whether this is a Facebook Business page, Twitter account, LinkedIn company page, Instagram account, Pinterest profile, or all of the above, be sure your company information is complete on each platform. If your company uses video at all, add YouTube and TikTok to that list.
There are two reasons to do this. First, these accounts often show up near the top of online search results. If your business doesn’t have any profiles, you lose this easy opportunity to appear high up on page one of the search results.
Second, customers often turn to social media to talk about their experiences—good or bad. On some platforms, including Facebook, they can even leave reviews. Staying active on social media is one way to keep your finger on the pulse of what customers are saying about your business, engage with them in a positive way, and respond to any negative comments quickly.
Business and Review Sites
Don’t forget about sites like Google Business and Yelp. Both will show up high in search results, which is usually a good thing. Having a profile on each also gives customers an easy way to leave positive reviews about your business.
It’s also important to know that, at least in the case of Yelp, people can leave reviews whether you have an official business profile or not. However, you can’t respond to any reviews until you set up your business profile there. Engaging with customer reviews is important, so you’ll want to be able to do so on every platform.
If all this seems overwhelming, WebiMax will take care of it for you.
They’ll set up and monitor your social media and online business listings, confirm the information is always accurate, and manage engagement, too.
Step 2: Monitor What Is Being Said About Your Business Online
Another easy step you should take right away is to keep an eye on your business mentions online. This is the fastest way to know when something negative about you turns up on the web.
Identify Past Mentions
This is as simple as running an online search for your business name, products, and services. You’ll find any past mentions and can quickly assess how much negative information is out there right now.
Running a search is also a good way to see how your business stacks up in search results overall. This gives you a benchmark for measuring search result improvements in the future.
Set Up Google Alerts for Future Mentions
Knowing what’s already been said is only part of the equation. You also need to be aware when new information is published. While you could just keep running searches periodically, there is a more efficient way.
You can automate the process by setting up a Google Alert for your business name.
You have a number of settings to set up, including how often to be alerted. I recommend you select as-it-happens, so you can deal with any negative information as fast as possible.
Once you create your alert, you’ll receive an email at the interval you chose. The email will identify all mentions of your business name with a link to the source.
Step 3: Request Negative Information Be Deleted
If you find untrue or defamatory information about your business in a Google search result, you can ask Google to delete it. They have processes in place to evaluate and respond to these requests.
But keep in mind that even if Google does remove the information from its search results, the content will still reside online at its source. It just won’t appear in any Google searches. You will have to approach the site directly if you want the information permanently deleted from the web.
If the negative information is on a public review site like Yelp, you can ask the site to remove the false review. The site will investigate and if they find the information is untrue, they will take the information down.
However, if the negative review stems from a legitimate transaction, then you’ll have to approach the review differently. I’ll cover how to handle that scenario in Step 5, below.
The reassuring news is that an online reputation management service like WebiMax can manage both these tasks for you. This frees you up from spending valuable time communicating back and forth with search engines or online review sites.
Step 4: Harness the Power of SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps the content you publish about your business rank higher in online search results. This is a very effective way to push any negative information about your company off page one and into internet oblivion.
Why does this matter? Three-quarters of people who search online don’t look beyond the first page of results. So the more positive content you can get to land high in rankings, the faster the bad stuff will be relegated to the place few people look.
Develop a Solid SEO Strategy
Creating a comprehensive SEO strategy involves researching to determine high-ranking keywords and phrases applicable to your business, building a solid website structure, and getting backlinks to your content from other reputable websites.
Effectively doing this requires having someone on your team that is very knowledgeable about the ins and outs of SEO. This person creates the strategy and then manages the execution. It is a big job, so don’t worry if you aren’t—or don’t want to be—an SEO expert. WebiMax offers award-winning SEO services that will help elevate your company to a top spot in Google’s search results.
They’ll help you with all the things you need to ensure your business is leveraging every SEO strategy possible to boost your position in search engine rankings. And their efforts are all totally customized for your business.
Create Great Content
The SEO research will tell you what users are searching for, but it’s up to you to create killer content that is informative and helpful for those users. Your content must also incorporate the keywords and phrases you identified during your SEO research, so that it has a chance to catch Google’s attention.
The more of this great content you publish, the happier Google will be since it loves fresh, quality content. Pleasing Google gives you the best shot to see your content rank high in search results.
Having a blog on your website is a great place to start. You can use it to share news and information about your business, answer frequently asked questions, offer tips, and provide other information relevant to your company.
Another important factor is adding content to your website. You can publish your blog on your website, but you also can create content that describes your business and your services that ranks well on Google.
Additionally, you need to have a well-organized website. If visitors click through to your website, but quickly become frustrated with finding the information they want, they will jump to the next site in the Google search results. A well-organized website generates “sticky” visitors, meaning they spend a lot of time on your site, which Google views positively inside its ranking system.
Knowing exactly how to create sticky content on a website that keeps visitors engaged can be challenging for many people. If you are running your own business already, you may not have much time available to create your content. An online reputation management company like WebiMax can help you design your website, organizing it successfully and helping you create content that ranks well.
You can also employ other strategies like sending out press releases and sharing your content across your social media channels. The more positive information you send out into the world about your business, the more chances you have to bury any negative information.
Step 5: Engage, Engage, Engage
Once you’ve got your basic online reputation repair strategies in place, it’s time to start a dialogue with your current and future customers. Regular engagement is one of the most effective ways to build goodwill with your target audience.
Ask For Reviews
While customers who have a bad experience don’t hesitate to leave negative reviews, the same isn’t always true for satisfied customers. It’s important to encourage your happy customers to share their positive experiences with the world through online reviews.
There are many ways to do this. You can create social media posts asking them to share their honest opinions about their experience with you. You can include small reminders in the packages you send with customer orders. You can send follow-up emails to your customers, too.
The point is to remind customers that reviews are a valuable part of their transaction with your company.
Respond To All Reviews
Asking for reviews is only half of the equation. You also need to respond in a timely manner to all the reviews you get—whether they’re good or not so great. Responding to the positive reviews is easy—a simple “thanks for your feedback” is fine, though you can certainly say more to show your gratitude if you want!
Responding to negative reviews is a little trickier. If the contents of the review are true and the issue they’re complaining about actually happened, be open and honest in your response. Acknowledge the mistake, fix it if you can, and apologize. Then explain the steps you’ve taken to avoid a repeat of the mistake down the road.
If asking for and responding to customer reviews feels like something your business doesn’t have time to do, WebiMax can help you with this, too.
They’ll get reviews for your business, keep your online profiles up-to-date, provide strategic responses to all reviews, and help highlight the most positive ones.
Other Ways To Engage
Social media is a great way to engage with your followers. Start with a thoughtful post, ask readers to respond in comments, then respond quickly to any comments you get.
While this sort of engagement isn’t going to directly impact any negative online information, it does keep your company front of mind for your followers. Then when you do ask for reviews on your social channels, there’s a higher likelihood your followers will see the request and respond with the positive reviews you want.
You can also turn on comments on your blog posts and engage with readers there. These comments are visible to anyone reading your content. This is a great way to showcase your attentive customer service and focus on engagement.
Repairing Your Online Reputation: Your Top Questions Answered
Final Thoughts About Repairing Your Online Reputation
Repairing a damaged reputation requires time, patience, and ongoing attention. If you don’t have the resources to manage this on your own, it’s worth investing in an online reputation management service to handle the heavy lifting on your behalf.
Read our full reviews of our top online reputation management companies to learn more about these services.