A reputation can take years to build, and in today's digital age, only seconds to tarnish. As a small business owner, your company's brand reputation is one of its most important assets and keeping your brand's profile spotless is important to your success. Try the following tactics to optimize your brand reputation online.
1. You are your Brand. Online reputation management for small business owners involves maintaining a good name with your personal profile as well as your business profile so it's important to note that you are your brand. As a business owner, your personal digital profile is more than likely linked to your business so it's important to remember to think before you post. What are you saying about yourself that may reflect on your business image? Also be mindful of what your friends post on your social sites as well. You'll want to monitor comments to make sure they don't put you, or your business, in a bad light. If they do, hit delete. Your friends will understand.
2. Monitor your search results at least once a week. Google your business at least once a week and keep an eye out for any negative content that needs addressed. And be sure to search past the first page on Google. It's also a good idea to track what you find including the URL, the page title, your relationship to the page, (is it a social site that you have ownership or control/influence over?) and whether the comment is positive, negative or somewhere in between. You may want to keep a spreadsheet if there are numerous results and chart what action, if any, is needed.
3. Be Authentic. It's important to always be authentic in your responses to negativity online. If you made a mistake, be upfront about it and don't try to "spin" the situation. Acknowledge what happened, apologize when/if appropriate, and outline your plan to make amends. Sincerity and humility speak volumes online and you will more than likely defuse the situation quickly by being upfront about it.
4. Know when to Stand Up or Stand Down. It's always okay to delete a comment that is abusive or one that uses offensive language and it's important to know when to stand up to an online bully or when to stand down. If you have an unhappy customer who posts a negative comment online, your best bet is to immediately contact the person who wrote the comment and ask them if there is anything you can do to address their concerns and to give them a more positive customer experience. If that fails, if possible, leave a comment to explain what you're doing to rectify the situation or your side of the story if there is nothing you can do to turn the situation around.
5. Write to Boost Your Google Ranking. Writing a company blog helps connect your brand with your audience and can go a long way in boosting your page ranking on google. Using a blog can also be a great way to position yourself as a leader in your industry and to sway public opinion about your brand and create a positive fan base. That said, if a negative comment pops up on a search engine, you'll have a better chance of dominating your ranking with positive content about your company.
6. Diversify your Web Presence. In addition to writing a company blog, it's important to establish a presence on social media sites. If you only have time for one, LinkedIn may be your best bet. Profiles on LinkedIn tend to rank higher on search engines and many business people search on LinkedIn for professional services. Once you establish your presence, be active. Providing new content on a regular basis and becoming interactive with your clients and prospective clients will boost your rankings and generate overall goodwill for your company.
7. Boost Your Online Presence with PR. Sending out search-optimized press releases on a regular basis, on topics that interest your audience, can be very useful in boosting your online presence. Pay close attention to relevant keywords and phrases and infuse them into your press releases for the best results.
April Neill Public Relations is passionate about working with small businesses to increase their brand awareness and help them find their voice. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call (312) 772-3832 for more information. Visit us online at http://www.AprilNeillPR.com. Follow ANPR on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/AprilNeillPR.