Reputation Management

Reputation Management

Managing your company reputation online.

A business’s reputation used to be what they said about themselves in their advertising and the reach their customers had via word of mouth.  Now, consumers are pushing out a company’s reputation and image collectively by providing real-time feedback online through review sites, social media, forums and other channels.  Basically, if it is an online source and a consumer can say something about business on it, then it is a channel where your business’s reputation should be managed.  In addition, your company reputation can be affected by listing accurately, or more to the point, inaccurately online.


Digital marketing and online reputation management for businesses

Online reputation management is a part of a greater digital marketing strategy that works alongside review management, business listings, paid search/ads, social media management and SEO to help your business stay competitive and relevant online. While your business should be managing each of these segments of digital marketing to maintain your online presence and (consequently) offline reputation, many businesses are not. They really should: four in five consumers surveyed use search engines to find local information from multiple devices to find store address, business hours, product availability and directions.


Online reputation management: your business has options

Your business’s reputation can be affected at any time on just about any source across the web. You can use products (SaaS), services (outsource services) or people (outsource or hire a digital marketer) to cut down on your reputation management time expenditure. Even if your business tracks and constantly checks on social media, there may be sources that your business is unaware of such as a new review site from a listing that your business never knew that existed.

Your business should weigh the pros and cons of conducting online reputation management in-house or outsourcing, but there are definitely best practices when responding to reviews that your business should be aware of. Maintaining your business’s online presence is one of the most worthwhile services a digital agency or local media company can provide your business and is one of the most worthwhile services you can invest in.


Why your business’s online reputation matters

An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage and quite frankly, it would appear as if no one ever visited the business.

Ready or not, consumers are talking about your business

Whether a business chooses to manage their reputation online or not, consumers are talking about their favourite and not-so-favourite businesses. If a business simply ignores their reputation online, the consequences can be detrimental.

Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. While a business may not realize how exactly one instance can affect their online reputation, it is possible that only one negative post on a highly ranked site can actually be what shows up near the top of a search results page when a consumer searches for that business’s name.

Consumers Control the Conversation and Everyone’s Feedback Matters
Social media is a two-way conversation — businesses can no longer broadcast the message they want people to see. There is a democratic nature to social, with brands, consumers and everyone having an equal voice in a shared space. Customers can rave about a business or let everyone know they had a terrible experience. Social networks have dramatically changed the way businesses communicate. Today, consumers can converse with brands and vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. As a result, businesses have had to become more personable than simply a business entity and manage their social presence in a manner that reflects as such.

Reputation drives conversion

What people see online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is a huge shift in thinking that has become more prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that sees a one-star increase on Yelp will see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine per cent.

As discussed previously, many businesses find that cultivating their digital profile on their own is too time-consuming. There are reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers way easier, saving time and money. Whatever your business does, it is essential that you are not perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your business can do is appear unresponsive.


What makes a good online reputation?

Being present (listed online) and having a good reputation (reviews and reputation management) go hand in hand. Not being listed on a reference site customers use is just as bad as having bad reviews on that site. Building a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is important for both consumers and search engines. Some of the most important aspects of the online footprint include:

  • number of business listings
  • consistency of business listing information (name, address, phone)
  • overall sentiment in reviews
  • frequency or current velocity of new reviews
  • the overall volume of reviews
  • social activity and engagement (especially with reviewers)

Customers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting \\reviews to be a mirror of the actual customer experience that they would experience themselves. This means that maintaining your business’s online reputation is gaining importance as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience.


Online reputation management: the main points

According to Google, 9 out of 10 of local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. If businesses have a good web presence, customers will go to them rather than the competitor. Once they’re in the store, 79% of customer use their smartphones inside to look at reviews or compare prices and 74% of them end up making a purchase. Those numbers alone make the opportunity clear: online reputation management is essential for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.

We manage your company reputation for you

Most packages include some reputation management.

Contact us to discuss your Reputation Management requirements.

How you respond to a negative review

Reputation Management

I see negative reviews as an opportunity. Negative reviews are not good but we can capitalise on a negative review by replying professionally and helpfully.

How you respond to a negative review impacts not only the reviewer but all the sets of eyes that come afterwards. Seeing a business handle a particularly challenging review online suggests that management is proud of their business and willing to go the extra mile to maintain their reputation online!  Here is our opportunity to show the world how we genuinely care about our customers explain our company ethos and help the customer.
Show potential clients see the light with these steps: feel for your customer’s situation, empathise, apologise, promote your business, get offline, keep it simple.

How to respond to negative reviews.

1 Apologise and sympathise.
The first step towards fixing a problem is acknowledging that one occurred. Regardless of what happened, a simple apology and sympathy for your customer’s experience go a long way.
2 Promote
. We missed a promised delivery deadline. If they’re what you are known for, why not reiterate that? “Our crab cakes are usually a hit, we’re sorry to hear that they weren’t up to par when you visited!”
3 Move the conversation offline. 
Don’t open a can of worms. Keep the lid on tight by offering the reviewer the chance to reach out via phone, email or both.
4 Keep it simple
.  Avoid specifics and don’t ask questions. Those conversations are much better served in a space away from the prying public.
One last tip: leave your business name, location and category out of this. You don’t want your negative reviews showing up in the search results!
Part of our marketing services will include Reputation Management where we manage and respond to all reviews.  Learn more about Social Media Marketing

Search Local

Search Local

When looking for services or products locally,
we turn to our phone first.

Is the local chemist open?
When does the pizza shop open?
What sort of reputation does the local car repair garage have?
–   all quick searches online.

Company representation online is important in three main ways:

  1. Be found.  People must be able to find your business easily.
  2. Accurate Data.  Your opening times, location and contacts must be accurate and up to date.  Out of date or wrong information will adversely affect your search ranking and your company online reputation.
  3. Active.  Active profiles look better and perform better.  Impress your visitors and search engines by updating and adding new content to your social platforms.

Top places to promote Search Local:

Google. Google business is a great place to publish your location, opening times, COVID updates and what’s new.  Google account holders can add reviews, which are very valuable.

Facebook with Instagram. Facebook is the most active of all the social platforms for most businesses.  Here you can add your opening times, location and attract reviews.  Posting at least once per week will keep your online reputation looking good.  Depending on your industry you may have to post more often to keep up with the competition.  Remember to use hash-tags.

Twitter.  Twitter is nice and simple, fast to update and looks professional.   For most sectors, it’s not really very active but I always suggest the addition of a Twitter account, keep the account active to help with the overall reputation and it helps with search too.

Directory Listings

There are about 40 recognised directories we suggest you list on.  These include Bing Maps, Foursquare, Manta, Brown Book and Show Me Local etc.  You can also be active on Yell and Gumtree, this all helps but depends on your industry.

Listing on all the directories requires an investment of time and going forward effort to keep up to date.   Don’t expect a huge response or uplift in traffic immediately.  Listing accurately on the directories strengthens the business online profile and will benefit search ranking.

I do suggest you list on all the main recognised directories;  helps with search local and overall search results.   You will notice directory listings are starting to pop-up at the top of search results when searching locally, your company needs to be there.  See screenshot.

Local Search

Last but certainly not least is the fact that local search results are considered the most trustworthy. In a study by Neustar, it was determined that these searches, such as “used games Darlington”, are what people do the most since they put that trust in local business more than big website stores.

Local searches lend themselves to instant requirement and the interaction between browser and business will convert that browser to a loyal customer.

Let’s say you need new brake pads for your car. You want them today;  want to pop to town to collect the parts, you may want to look at the item before buying to be sure the right fit etc.  A search of say ”Car parts shop in Darlington’ will work.   Or you are looking for a local service that can only be local; Joiner, Decorator, Loft Conversion Company, Upholsterer etc.  These all need to be local.

Those interactions are what lead people to local searches and the absolute necessity of getting your listings correct. Trust leads to loyalty, which leads to more business, which leads to happy customers and business owners.

And it all starts with that correct listing in that customer’s local search.

Lastly, you should be everywhere.  When a browser searches for your local business you should be everywhere, accurately presented with an active and up to date profile.

What are Sitemaps?

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION

A way to communicate with search engines to tell them which pages you want looking at.

Sitemaps are something most of our clients are not aware of. Sitemaps help search. Sitemaps are free and easy to add, they are simply a way to communicate with search engines to tell them which pages you want looking at to help make the search engine crawl (a robot clicking through your website) easy and accurate. They help produce a SERP Map too, a multi-link search engine result on Google and Bing.

A sitemap file is hidden from human visitors, but search engines like Google and Bing can see it.  The sitemap helps search engines easily see all the content on your site in one place.

Why do you need a sitemap?

Without one, the only way for those bots to find all your content is by following links on your site. So, if you have any pages on your site that aren’t linked to often, or it takes a lot of links to reach a certain page, there’s a chance that Google won’t find those pages and they’ll never end up in search results.

Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.
Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata. Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.

Sitemaps are something most of our clients are not aware of. Sitemaps help search. Sitemaps are free and easy to add, they are simply a way to communicate with search engines to tell them which pages you want looking at to help make the search engine crawl (a robot clicking through your website) easy and accurate.  They help produce a ”SERP Map” too, a multi-link search engine result on Google and Bing.

Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters (the person who looks after your website) to inform search engines about pages on websites that are available for crawling.  In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.  So a more often updated website will be more attractive to search engines.

Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites.  Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata.

Using the XML Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides help for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.  XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. It’s a markup language similar to HTML, but its main purpose is to organise data.

How to set up a site map

You can generate a site map from your host provider or admin panel.  WordPress for example provide a site map automatically now.  A site map link looks just like a website address with .xml on the end. Then submit it to a search engine.

WordPress provides a sitemap as standard now (5.5.1).   If you already use an SEO tool to boost your website traffic, no action required.

Benefits of Upgrading to the New WordPress 5.5.

WordPress

New with WordPress 5.5.

Speed. The speed of a website is important, Google prefers faster loading websites as a faster website provides a better experience for the visitor.

With WordPress 5.5 posts and pages feel faster, thanks to lazy-loaded images.  Images give your company story a lot of impact, but they can sometimes make your site seem slow.  So it advisable to make sure you optimise your images, size them about 1000 to 1500 pixels wide and reduce the resolution (they don’t have to be high-resolution images unless you are printing).   In WordPress 5.5, images wait to load until they’re just about to scroll into view. The technical term is ‘lazy loading’.

On mobile, lazy loading can also keep browsers from loading files meant for other devices. That can save your readers money on data – and help preserve battery life.

Search.  Add a  sitemap for search.

WordPress sites work well with search engines, especially if fresh rich content is added.  For example; updates from your company, case studies, answered FAQs etc.  A site map is a way of letting Google and Bing etc to know which pages you want crawling and telling them your site has been updated. This can produce much better search results and in some cases, a multi-linked SERP map (search engine results page map).

We at Zedcomms always add a site map to our client’s sites using plugins such as Yoast or All in One SEO but now this feature is included with the latest WordPress software.  WordPress 5.5 includes an XML sitemap that helps search engines discover you’re most important pages from the very minute you go live.

So, more people will find your site sooner, giving you more time to engage, retain, and convert them to subscribers, customers, or whatever fits your definition of success.

This is a good move for WordPress.

Tip – Hit update just once; When updating your WordPress site to 5.5, click the update button only once. It looks like it has not responded, wait a while and it will do the job.  Hit it a few times and the site may get – lest say confused.