Online Reputation Management for Direct Selling Companies

Here’s something that comes up in executive meetings all the time: “Why are people saying bad things about us on the Internet, and what can we do about it?”

This can be especially troubling to the CEO who founded the company and who has spent long years working hard to build the brand. He wakes up one day and finds defamatory remarks online about his company—not constructive criticism, but outrageous accusations and almost slanderous comments.

Worse, the negative reviews are on websites that rank high on search engine results pages, so that anyone doing a search on the company will see them. And it’s not just one negative review website, but several, causing the company’s online reputation to suffer.

As an executive, you need to be aware of your online reputation and know that you can take steps to manage it. You shouldn’t just leave it up to fate, or simply hope that people won’t post negative comments about your company. Your online reputation can have a dramatic effect on not only your brand perception, but also your company’s revenues.

A couple of years ago I met with a company that had a severe online reputation problem. When potential customers searched their company name, seven out of the top 10 Google rankings were negative. After a careful review of their rankings, and prior-year revenues, I determined that they were probably losing more than $1.5 million a year in sales due to negative search engine results. The company confirmed the fact that my estimates were indeed accurate—but low.

Direct selling companies face a unique challenge in protecting their online reputation. And because your success or failure depends on how potential customers perceive you, I want to cover the basics of managing and improving your online reputation.

1) What we mean by “online reputation”

Your online reputation is determined by the top Google rankings a prospect sees when they do a search on your company name. A prospect can quickly glance down the page of results and look for anything of interest that pops out at them. If a lot of those websites have negative reviews and complaints about your company, it will automatically diminish your reputation in their eyes. But if they see a list of websites with positive comments and testimonials, they’re more likely to sign up without further hesitation.

Because most people rarely look past the first page or two of search engine results, your online reputation is determined by the top 10 or 20 search results.

2) Where negative postings come from

Some websites specialize in letting anyone post a complaint. That makes it extremely easy for a dissatisfied customer to go online and share his or her experience with the world. And the complaint will still appear years later, even if it was a customer service issue that was quickly handled.

Websites like scam.com, ripoffreport.com and complaintsboard.com will pretty much accept postings from anyone. However, they rarely check for accuracy and are not likely to remove a posting if you request it.

These websites also tend to rank high in the search engines, so if your company is named in a complaint on one of these websites, expect it to show up on a search about you.

3) How a few complaints can hurt your online reputation

You might think that if you have thousands of happy customers and distributors, a few online complaints shouldn’t matter. But the math doesn’t work out that way.

Consider that a Google search returns 10 results on the first page. If just three of those are websites with complaints or criticisms, it means nearly a third of the search results are for negative websites. They may still be in the minority, but when a curious prospect sees a link that promises to reveal the “dirt” on a company, it’s hard to resist clicking through. After all, isn’t that what you’d do?

Even one review on a website like scam.com can have an impact if it shows up near the top of the page. Sometimes a single complaint, valid or not, is enough to scare away a prospect.

I know this sounds dire, but basic human psychology is at work here. All it takes is one negative review to give them a reason to say no to the opportunity.

4) What it takes to have a good online reputation

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to manage your online reputation so you are not at the mercy of your company’s critics. Start out right by following these three steps:

Step No. 1: Accept the fact of online reviews.

Short of outright slander or libel by the reviewers online, you really don’t have much legal recourse to make the negative postings go away. People have a right to complain, and these days it’s all too easy for unhappy customers to vent their frustrations and share their opinions with the whole world.

When you see a negative review about your company the instinctive reaction is to post a response to set the record straight. I understand the human need to respond, but you have to consider Google’s point of view. Here’s why.
Search engines rank various websites high for a few reasons, one of which is relevant content, especially when that content is updated on a regular basis.

When you post a comment on a website, you are in effect giving it new content. And if you get into a back-and-forth discussion with someone on a review website about your company, Google thinks “Ah, there’s a lot about this company here, so we’ll rank this website high for searches on their company name.”

Now when someone does a search on your company, they are even more likely to see the negative review. You want to avoid that. In fact, you want the websites with negative comments to slip further down the Google rankings so they don’t appear on the first page or two of a search. The next two steps help you with that.

Step No. 2: Focus on getting positive content.

A major part of online reputation management involves pushing the negative websites off of the first page or two of a Google search. How? By posting positive content and getting those pages to rank higher than the negative websites.

You need to direct your marketing or PR department to make online reputation management part of their regular duties. That means they should always be looking for, gathering or creating positive content that can be used to continually update your websites. Don’t put everything onto one corporate website. Instead, set up different websites for different purposes.

For example, you can have a website for new distributors, a website about your charitable giving, a website about conferences and meetings, a website for photos and perhaps individual product line websites. This gives you a nice stable of websites that you have control over.

Step No. 3: Push positive websites higher.

In the online world, your reputation is all about who owns the top-ranking results in a search for your company name. You want that space to belong to you—or at least be shared only with websites that have good things to say about you.

If you can do that, then the negative websites will be pushed off the first page of a Google search. And since very few people look past the first page of a search, those negative websites may as well not exist.

The best way to accomplish this is by performing search engine optimization on the positive websites to make them rank higher. Carefully review your websites’ content and the meta title tags to be sure they contain your company name. And most important, you’ll need to create plenty of back links to your positive websites so they are seen as more popular by Google. The magic of ranking higher in Google is relevant content and gathering a substantial number of links from other websites that point to your websites. These links are anchored by your company name.

The goal of getting all the positive websites to rank higher than the negative websites can be a hard one to reach. But considering how important your online reputation is, achieving this goal is well worth the effort. This is not always easy, and it can take many months of steady effort to achieve. Still, consider that the alternative is to let the complaints and negative reviews dominate the search results and trash your online reputation.

Of course, there are even more details to managing your online reputation, but the above steps give you the basic outline of what needs to be done. Just keep in mind that these days your company’s online reputation is one of the most important factors in determining its success.

Contact Me Today

If you’d like a free review of your company’s online reputation please send an email to: [email protected] or call 917-727-5756

Google Dishes Up the Dirt

What is it about Google that it seems to love dishing up the dirt on people and companies? Perform a search on anyone or anything that’s had the slightest bit of controversy in the past, and you’re almost sure to see an article, blog, or review about that in the top search results.

This makes it hard when you’re trying to boost your online reputation by getting more positive sites to rank higher, pushing those negative sites down off the first page. But just when you think you’ve made progress, one of the negative sties will pop back to the upper part of the search results, like a buoy that’s been pushed deep underwater and suddenly released.

You know the kind of sites I’m talking about. The ones dedicated to airing complaints, revealing scams, and generally acting as defenders the First Amendment right to publish whatever you like about someone online, just because you’re feeling ornery about their customer service that day.

Of course, these sites provide a useful public service. The review sites in particular have become invaluable for consumers who want to perform a little due diligence before spending money. The main trouble for some of my clients, and thus for me, is that a negative review or complaint from years ago can still appear in the top ten search results. It’s as if every time you meet someone new they’re told about that lamp you broke when you were five years old — and now they’re not so sure they can trust you around fine furniture.

Any major scandal a company has been involved in will almost certainly come up in the first couple of pages, especially if there was a lot of news coverage. No matter that it was ten years ago, the controversy was overblown, the upper management was replaced, the company was reformed, and all was forgiven. It still tarnishes the reputation in the eyes of anyone performing an online search.

So why does Google seem to have a preference for all these negative sites? Does their algorithm just have a mean streak, as if it were developed by a surly, anti-social, anti-consumerist programmer who delights in seeing successful companies brought down and ridiculed in the eyes of the public?

Well yes, there’s something in their algorithm, but it’s not inherent meanness. It’s just that Google rewards sites that get a lot of traffic. If a page appears in the search results and a lot of people click on the link, the page is likely to rise higher in the results. Then more people see it and click on it, and it moves up another notch. A vicious — or virtuous — cycle, depending on your perspective.

And what kinds of links do people love to click on? Ones that promise to expose the truth about someone or something … that reveal scandals, misconduct, or shocking behavior … that give us the inside scoop on scams and faulty products … and that let us exercise our feeling of moral outrage at some offense, real or imagined. Reading about someone else’s misfortune seems to provide many people with a bit of guilty pleasure. Witness how popular the tabloids have been. As Bette Midler noted, “The worst part of success is to try to find someone who is happy for you.”

So we can’t really blame Google, since its algorithms are just serving up what people want. And if people want dirt, that’s what they’ll get.

Of course, that makes my job more challenging. Trying to get positive pages to rank above the negative sites means working against the forces of human nature, at least the part that derives satisfaction from another’s misfortune. And this is why you can never become complacent in your online reputation management efforts, because those negative sites will keep creeping up the search rankings if you don’t constantly work at making the positive pages rank higher.

How to Rate a Company’s Reputation

If you could have a “Nielsen’s Rating” of reputation, what would it look like? Well, the Harris Poll, owned by Nielsen, has the answer in the form of the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient. This is a yearly poll that gauges the reputations of the largest, well-known companies in the U.S.

Here are the six dimensions they measure: products and services, financial performance, vision and leadership, workplace environment, social responsibility, and emotional appeal. The goal is to help corporate leaders manage their company’s reputation among the general public. But the Harris Poll also publishes the list of the top 100 companies, so you and I can see how they rank.

For example, the top five companies with the best reputations for 2016 are Amazon, Apple, Google, USAA, and The Walt Disney Company. At the bottom of the list was Volkswagen Group, due to the recent scandal involving emissions tests. Comcast came in at a sorry 97 because, well, it’s Comcast.

Now, it’s likely that you’re not a multi-billion dollar company with thousands of employees. So should you care about the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient? Sure, the things they measure can be important when you’re in the public eye. But Acme Car Repair in Any City, USA is not going to show up on Harris Poll’s list of reputation rankings.

It’s just a fact that, if you’re not a well-known company, brand, or celebrity, you’re not likely to have any kind of reputation among the general public. Your customers know you, your suppliers may know you, and a few journalists who cover your industry or area of expertise might also be aware of your existence. But outside of that circle, you just don’t register on anyone’s radar.

And that’s where your online reputation comes in. Because, if someone doesn’t know much about you, they’re going to Google you.

When we talk about online reputation management, we’re not talking about the kinds of things that the Harris Poll looks at. We care about what someone finds when they do search on you or your company. That’s the point where your prospects begin to gain a sense of what your reputation is, mostly by seeing what other people say about you online. And since this could be the first exposure they have to your company, it had better be a good impression.

Curiously, one of the things the Harris Poll evaluates is someone’s “willingness to say something positive, and intent to purchase or recommend your products and services.” But you can easily find that yourself. Just look at the first couple of pages of Google search results and see what people actually say about you. No need to poll them about their intentions. The good, the bad, and the ugly of their recommendations is all right there for you — and everyone else — to see.

So a simple way to rate your reputation is by looking at the number of positive search results on the first page of Google. You’ll get a number like 6 out of 10 positive, or 9 out of 10. The higher the better. You can give it a fancy name like Search Results Online Reputation Quotient, but it comes down to the same thing. Managing your online reputation is then a matter of getting more positive results to show up above the negative results. That can be a challenge, but that’s what we’re here to help you with.

Is the SEO Tail Wagging the Content Dog?

Also posted to Bulldog Reporter: https://www.bulldogreporter.com/is-seos-tail-wagging-the-content-dog/

Much of what we do for Online Reputation Management involves getting pages to show up on the first page of Google search results. That in turn means a lot of search engine optimization (SEO) on the web pages that we want to rank higher. Sometimes, however, it seems we get so focused on ranking in Google that the idea of people actually reading the pages becomes secondary.

So, is the tail wagging the dog? In other words, have search results become more important than the human-readable content itself? Well, yes and no.

Granted, if you’re a company that sells anything, you still want to provide your customers and prospects with online content that they’ll find helpful, and which will ultimately lead to a sale. But if they don’t find you online, or if your online reputation suffers by having too many negative reviews in the first page of the search results, it may not matter how great your website content is. Your prospects will end up going to a competitor.

As an online reputation management specialist, my job is to make sure that most of the first page search results for your brand, company, or personal name show you in a good light. That may mean writing press releases or articles, creating websites, or optimizing web pages to show up higher in the search results page. And yes, we want it to be good, readable content. But the main goal is to help the page rank higher.

Of course, the days of keyword stuffing are long gone. Google caught on to that years ago. It’s now considered a “black hat” tactic and isn’t effective. You can’t just cram a bunch of gobbledygook onto a page, or hide a ton of keywords in invisible text, and expect Google to blindly think it’s relevant to a searcher. On the other hand, the writing doesn’t have to be of the highest literary quality. There’s a lot of poorly-written junk out there that ranks well, at least for now.

But that can change, because computers are getting smarter. IBM has created machines that beat a chess master and won at Jeopardy. More recently, Google’s AlphaGo won four out of five games against a champion player of Go, an ancient Chinese board game with simple rules but very complex strategy. That was seen as a huge breakthrough in the development of artificial intelligence.

Couple this with advances in natural language processing, and we’re now rapidly approaching the point where Google will read, understand, and qualify web pages as well as any human can. That means their computers will easily see through any attempts at gaming the algorithms. In fact, their machines will be better than people at gauging the relevancy of web pages in searches. Not only can they look at the content itself, but they have tons of other data about the page, including how many inbound links the page has and how many people have already clicked on the search result.

One prediction is that we’ll no longer see the occasional release of some disruptive new set of Google algorithms for ranking pages in search results. Rather, Google’s DeepMind team — the ones who brought you AlphaGo — will create an artificial intelligence that will continually learn on its own what is relevant to human searches, and will adjust page rankings accordingly.

Where does this leave us? As always, content is king. So until the machines completely take over, we just have to do our best at continuing to create well-written, informative pages that are relevant and which other highly-ranked websites will want to link to.

How to Manage Your Reputation in a Crisis

Most companies look for online reputation management services because they’ve been hit with negative reviews or comments on hate sites. But what should you do about a full-on crisis, where a major incident has happened related to your company and it’s now all over the press?

First, this is something your PR department and upper management should be prepared for, and a lot of large companies already have plans in place for such a contingency. However, smaller companies can be taken unawares if they’ve never experienced a crisis. They’ve been too busy focusing on growth and serving their customers to think about the unthinkable.

Then it happens. A report on tainted products comes out, or a major accident occurs, or there’s a shooting at one of their facilities, or an executive is under investigation for fraud. And before all the facts come out, the online world is abuzz with speculation, accusations, and fabricated stories. Needless to say, that can cast a cloud over one’s online reputation.

Of course, the worst thing you can do is deny everything and hope the problem will go away. You have to meet it head on and let your customers and the rest of the world know that you’re on top of things. Responding quickly and taking responsibility will go a long way towards deterring speculation, though it won’t stop people who just want to say bad things about you no matter what.

Working with the press and being honest will tend to show your company in a better light than refusing to comment. In any news story that comes up in a search, it’s better to have your side presented than to leave it to the reporter to make something up. People can be quite forgiving if you accept responsibility and tell them the truth. But attempting a cover up will only make it worse.

While the crisis is in full swing, you will probably want to publish press releases with every new development. Press releases usually rank well in Google searches, and they’ll provide a record of events as they unfold, offering readers a chance to see how you responded.

Eventually, one hopes, the problem will be handled, the crisis will blow over, and the press will move on to something else. But the stories and comments will stay online forever. As always, the ultimate goal for managing your online reputation is to make sure that searches related to your company show more positive results than negative ones.

And that’s where we get back to our regularly scheduled program of providing positive content about your company, getting it to rank higher in searches, and pushing the negative content off the first page of search results.

Online Reputation Management Services article in Forbes

Don’t Comment Back: 3 Steps to Managing Your Online Reputation

“So, I Googled myself and read the comments section, thinking I could get some tidbits of what people really think of me. No human being should ever read the comments sections or ever Google one’s self at any time.” – Sandra Bullock

Just like Bullock, many CEOs are often taken aback when they Google their own name or the name of the company they lead. What they find isn’t always flattering. It could be hostile and mean. It might not even be true. But there is it for the world to read. What they read could cost you in lost business or damage your brand’s reputation.

However, there are things you can do to manage your online reputation so you are not at the mercy of your company’s critics. Start by following these three steps:

Step No. 1: Accept the fact of online reviews.
Short of outright slander or libel by the reviewers online, people can say just about anything they want. You really don’t have much legal recourse to make the negative postings go away. People have a right to complain, and online it’s easy for unhappy customers to vent their frustrations and share their opinions with the whole world.

When you see a negative review about your company the instinctive reaction is to post a response to set the record straight. While it’s natural to want to respond and defend yourself, under most cases you should resist.

One way a search engine rank websites high is because it determines the site has relevant content that is fresh, or updated on a regular basis.When you post a comment on a website, you are adding new content. And if you get into a back-and-forth discussion with someone on a review website about your company it can hurt you.

Google will see the website has a lot of information about the company, so they will rank the website high for searches on their company name. When someone does a search on your company, they are even more likely to see the negative review. Your goal is the opposite—you want websites with negative comments to slip further down the Google rankings so they don’t appear on the first page or two of a search. The next two steps help you with that.

Step No. 2: Focus on getting positive content.
A major part of online reputation management is trying to push the negative websites off of the first page or two of a Google search. You can do this by posting positive content and getting those pages to rank higher than the negative websites.

Your marketing or PR department needs to make online reputation management part of their job. They should always be looking for, gathering or creating positive content that can be used to continually update your websites. Don’t put everything onto one corporate website. Instead, set up different websites for different purposes. Or, get interviews or articles about your company on highly respected websites. Social media sites usually rank highly for your company name so make sure to register your company name on all of the major sites.

Step No. 3: Push positive websites higher.
In the online world, your reputation is all about who owns the top-ranking results in a search for your company name. You want those results to be your websites—or at least be shared only with websites that have good things to say about you.

If you can do that, then the negative websites will be pushed off the first page of a Google search. And since very few people look past the first page of a search, those negative websites may as well not exist.

The best way to accomplish this is with search engine optimization to push the positive websites higher. Carefully review your websites’ content and the meta title tags to be sure they contain your company name. The magic of ranking higher in Google is relevant content and gathering a links from other websites that point to your websites.

While it’s not easy to get all of the positive websites to rank higher than the negative websites, it’s worth the effort. Online reputation management is not always easy and it can take many months of steady effort to achieve. Still, consider the alternative of letting complaints and negative reviews dominate the search results and destroy your online reputation.

If you choose to hire an agency or consultant, ask them to show you success they’ve had with other clients. This can be simple such as a before and after screenshot of Google results showing they have made a positive impact.

Of course, there are more details to managing your online reputation than this, but the above steps give you the basic outline of what you need to do. Just keep in mind that your company’s online reputation is one of the most important factors in determining its success.

Rebuilding Wall Street’s Reputation: 7 Key Factors to Focus On

With the national economy taking its time to recover and plenty of recent financial scandals, Wall Street’s reputation has tanked. If Wall Street, banks, and other financial institutions want to rebuild a solid reputation, they’ll need to focus on the 7 distinct perceptions consumers have about them. By addressing each of these areas, Wall Street bankers and stockbrokers can tackle the problem of a poor reputation from several angles.

The 7 key factors Wall Street must address to rebuild reputation are:

  • citizenship

  • financial performance

  • governance

  • innovation

  • leadership

  • products and services

  • workplace environment

Citizenship

Consumers expect companies they do business with and those who hold a lot of power to show good corporate citizenship and social responsibility. Citizenship in this sense is the idea that businesses like those on Wall Street must be actively compliant with the law, monitor and be accountable for their own actions, and have a positive impact on the environment, employees, customers, stakeholders, and the public at large.

Financial Performance

No one wants to buy from, work for, or invest in a company that isn’t financially stable and making a steady profit. Scandals, embezzlement, debt, gambling, poor investments, sour mergers or acquisitions, and other cash-flow problems all reflect a negative financial performance.

Governance

How a company is run can have a big impact on the company’s reputation. Consumers expect a company to be run efficiently, fairly, and responsibly, with strong values and appropriate policies.

Implementing a better system to punish employees involved in scandals and reward those who live up to the company’s values and mission would go a long way to rebuilding Wall Street’s reputation. So would making processes more efficient, policies more fair, and values and mission statements more in line with the other 6 factors.

Innovation

The most successful companies–which, coincidentally, usually have good reputations–evolve and adapt. They are not afraid to update old products and policies, create new ones to match the times, and otherwise innovate in any way they can to perform better and please stakeholders.

Wall Street has stagnated by doing the same things the same way for years. It’s time for them to get creative and change how they play the game to regain trust and rebuild a strong reputation.

Leadership

Thanks to the internet, consumers expect companies to have visible leaders who are experts in their industries and take a stand on important issues of the day. Wall Street executives should strive to be an influence for good and become thought leaders in smart investing, ethical banking and financial policies, and other relevant topics.

Products & Services

Businesses live or die by the strength and value of their offerings. Wall Street institutions must make sure their products and services actually help customers, solve problems, and are appropriately priced.

Workplace Environment

Although this factor mainly affects employees, it makes a difference in a business’s reputation. Consumers expect businesses they frequent to treat their employees well, and an employee’s assessment of the company is more powerful than a random customer.

Rebuilding Wall Street’s reputation will take a lot of work, but these 7 key factors provide the much-needed guidance to get them on the right track.

 

How the Banking Industry can Improve Their Online Reputation

Banks are notorious for having bad reputations, and things have only gotten worse during the recent economic downturn and financial crises. Knowing which factors influence a poor reputation and some specific steps to take can help banks large and small rebuild their good reputations.

A 2012 Study by American Banker concluded that some of the largest banks: Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America have the poorest reputations.

4 Reasons Contributing to Banks’ Poor Reputations

1. Fee Increases During Hard Times

According to CFO.com, banking profitability is down from from about 26% in past years to about 14%. While fee increases support bank profits, in the context of a larger economic downturn they have a strong negative effect on reputation. Both real and proposed new fees and fee increases create a reputational backlash.

2. Lack of Direct Interaction & Communication

According to AmericanBanker.com, direct interaction and exposure to the company’s messaging (including “advertising, marketing, public relations activities or social responsibility efforts”) have huge impacts on a bank’s reputation. A lack of either or both has a large detrimental effect on reputation.

3. Relative Value Mindset

Banks often see reputation as just another way to beat competitors. While reputation can be a major differentiator, building a good one is not a race to the finish line.

4. Recent Scandals

Banks seem to have more scandals than most other businesses. All scandals adversely affect all banks. They prompt customers and investors to pay more attention to bank behavior so even the littlest problem can become a major concern. If scandals lead to criminal indictments against banks, the net effect is even worse because no one wants to do business with a criminal.

5 Ways Banks Can Rebuild a Good Reputation

First, improve communication both externally and internally.

External communication includes:

  • positive brand messaging
  • asking for and responding to feedback from customers and investors
  • showing that your bank is a responsible, trustworthy lender in tough times

Internal communication means:

  • making it clear to employees what kinds of behavior are rewarded or unacceptable
  • talking about the company’s strategy, mission, and values
  • accepting and responding to feedback from employees

Second, focus on consistency.

If you’re communicating one thing but doing the opposite, your reputation will align with your actions. Compensation and reward structures must match your internal communications to employees. Acquisitions, lending policies, customer service, and other actions must align with your external messaging to customers and investors.

Third, work on existing relationships.

Because bank profits are decreasing and other industries are moving into the banking sector, banks cannot afford high customer churn rates anymore. That means it’s important to work on retaining customers and improving their experience and direct interaction with you.

Fourth, live up to expectations.

According to Anthony Johndrow of Reputation Institute (source), customers expect banks “to engage in citizenship, good governance and innovation, along with having solid financial performance and trustworthy products and services.” A bank’s ability to meet those 5 expectations will be reflected in its general reputation.

Fifth, use social media more aggressively.

Because social media promotes both communication and direct interaction, it can be a more powerful positive influence on reputation than other sources. Use it more aggressively to help customers and provide accountability and transparency.

Travel Industry Online Reputation Management

According to eMarketer, the number of people who research and book a trip online increases dramatically every year, and the trend will only continue. That’s why it is so important for hoteliers, agencies, and other travel marketers to take control of their reputations online.

Start your online reputation management off on the right track with these ideas.

Drive prospects to owned media

The eMarketer report indicates that branded travel websites are the second most common source travelers use when researching and booking travel online. That means your branded website, blog, and other owned media are the most important resources you have to help customers and influence a positive reputation.

Use a strong, comprehensive search engine optimization and paid search strategy to drive traffic to the media you own and control. Publish lots of unique, useful content on your website, social channels, and other owned media to help them appear high in search results.

Incorporate ads and reviews

Paid media such as search ads, Facebook ads, and promoted tweets can be the catalyst that introduces travel researchers to your brand and inspires engagement. Use them in conjunction with strong SEO and reviews.

Earned media, especially reviews and positive social mentions, increases your credibility and is the online equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing, making it very powerful. Use the following ideas to generate positive reviews and mentions:

  • ask for reviews on social media
  • host a contest or giveaway with the prize going to a randomly selected reviewer
  • use email to encourage customers to talk about their experience

Use social media aggressively

According to iProspect, the very first thing travel brands should do to control their reputations is claim brand presence on social platforms. The biggest social media–Facebook, Twitter, Google+, TripAdvisor, and various listing sites–are the perfect channels for generating powerful reviews and recommendations and spreading awareness of your brand.

Lots of updated content and the judicious use of ads on all these platforms can make a huge difference to both your bottom line and how you are perceived.

Make your media more visually appealing

Like the food and real estate industries, travel depends on visual elements to perform well. Using beautiful, high-resolution videos, photos, and other multimedia impacts your reputation in a few ways:

1      If you invest the time and money to create appealing visual media, your services are more likely to be high quality as well.

2      Great multimedia are more likely to be shared, increasing your brand’s exposure and creating indirect recommendations.

3      Visual media are easy to publish across many different platforms (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, Flickr, etc.), making them more likely to show up in a video or image search.

Having an appealing and easy-to-use website makes a big difference, too. It encourages reviews, makes it easy to research and book a trip, and is more likely to show up in search results thanks to better navigation and user experience.

Focus on your customers

Your online reputation directly reflects your reputation in general. Take ownership of your reputation in all its facets by making customer experience as remarkable as possible.

SEO: The Cornerstone of any Online Reputation Management Strategy

Although online reputation management works in a variety of ways, it often depends heavily on search engine optimization (SEO) to fill the first page of search results with positive content about your brand. Optimizing a webpage to increase its relevance and quality so it appears high in search results isn’t easy, and to top it off, search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to ensure they return the most relevant and high-quality results.

Simply having an abundance of positive content about your brand isn’t always enough. All that positive content needs to be optimized to appear in search results. Search engines use a combination of links from reputable websites and high-quality content–content that is not only positive but also well-written or professional-looking–to determine a webpage’s relevance and authority to a search query.

The more relevant the page is to the query and the more authority it has earned, the higher it will show in search results.

So how do you make the positive content about your brand more relevant, and the websites that content lives on more authoritative?

By using the right tools to give search engines what they want. The more freshness, diversification, and support you can give your positive content, the better. These are some of the biggest indicators of relevance and authority the search engines look for.

Freshness

A website’s freshness means how often it is updated. The more often a site is updated, the more often search engines have to “crawl” the site in order to find and index new content.

You can teach search engines to index your site more frequently if you publish new content regularly. If your site is being indexed often enough, it will start to move up the rankings on search results pages.

Another important component of freshness is what all those regular updates tell the search engines. If the website is worth all the activity of regular updates, then it is much more likely to be a relevant, authoritative resource for searchers.

The trick to maintaining freshness on the webpages you want to appear on the first page of search results is to always be on the lookout for positive content. Your marketing and public relations teams need to keep a sharp eye for any positive content that can be used to protect your online reputation.

Diversification

Diversifying is as beneficial for online reputation management as it is for investment portfolios: it reduces risks and increases the likelihood of gains.

There are two important aspects of diversifying your online reputation management.

The first is using multiple types of content. You can have all the glowing testimonials in the world, but if all you have is testimonials and no case studies or data to back up your results, that starts to look a bit suspicious. And search engines will only return so many results of one type of content, leaving plenty of room on the first page for negative content.

This means in addition to testimonials, you want to harness the power of reviews, success stories and case studies, press releases, YouTube videos, articles about your expertise, and more.

The second important part of diversification is using multiple websites. The more websites you own and control, the more spaces on the first search results page you can potentially fill, with positive content you have complete control over.

Creating multiple websites isn’t as daunting as it sounds at first. Instead of putting all your content in one place online, simply spread it out by assigning a specific purpose and audience to each different website.

For example, a pharmaceutical online reputation management strategy might include a website for consumers and doctors, another for pharmacies and vendors, a separate blog, and another website for publishing survey results and other data.

Diversifying content in these two ways makes your content more relevant and authoritative because each website and type of content appeals to specific audiences and search queries.

Support

Good support means earning plenty of links to your website(s) from many different reputable sources over a long period of time. Flooding your website with too many links all at once is very suspicious and you will almost certainly be penalized for it. And trying to get links from low-quality websites won’t help your rankings, either.

The trick to getting good links is to create content so valuable you could practically sell it. When your content is that unique and useful, it draws attention from the kind of websites you want to link to yours.

Earning links that way takes time, though. When you don’t have a lot of time to devote to getting that support, you can create some of it yourself through press releases, article marketing, and blogging. Just make sure this content is as helpful and valuable as possible.

Building good support for your websites is an important part of online reputation management for two reasons.

First, it improves your off-page SEO, which helps your content appear higher in search results.

Second, the webpages linking to yours can also show up on search results pages, so searchers see even more positive content about your brand.

Getting plenty of support through high-quality links tells search engines that other people online think your content is relevant and authoritative, which strongly influences how search engines rank results.

Freshness, diversification, and support are not the only SEO tools to use in your online reputation management strategy, but they are some of the most important. Implement all three and you’ll be well on your way to presenting searchers with the best information about your brand.