Online and offline, first impressions matter a lot. However, due to how much power customers now have, online reputation is more critical than ever. What’s more, in an era where online reviews are ubiquitous, and anyone can Google your or your business in seconds, it might seem impossible to manage your reputation.
At the same time, you cannot underestimate the consequences of losing control of your reputation, such as:
- Loss of business revenue and sales
- Poaching loyal customers by competitors.
- Employee retention and hiring problems.
- Inability to maintain employment after losing one’s job.
- Symptoms of mental anguish and physical discomfort
Harmful online content can be overwhelming and stressful. But it doesn’t have to kill your reputation. On the contrary, it is possible to repair a damaged online reputation with patience and the right strategy.
Determine Your Negative Reputation’s Root Cause
Reputation repair and management are unique to each individual and business. Is the problem related to negative reviews on Yelp or Glassdoor? Is there an old story that isn’t going away? Do you have any defamatory content on Facebook or Twitter?
Finding the root cause and source of the problem can be tricky. This is because there are so many places where negativity can come from nowadays, like someone’s personal blog or a review on a rarely visited website.
However, a thorough assessment of your online reputation must first be undertaken by you and your business.
There are times when personal online reputation damage occurs out of the blue. An identically named person, for instance, might do something embarrassing in public, but the internet can’t tell you’re not the same person. The result is that people viewing search results for your name think you’re them.
Start by searching for your name on Google if you aren’t sure where to begin. You can also search the platforms where negative sentiment is originating.
Then, make a note of the types of results you see and whether or not they are positive or negative. You will want to try repairing your reputation on any platform where negative sentiment has been expressed about you or your company.
Apologize (If Necessary)
If you have made a mistake that has damaged your reputation, apologize sincerely. Every person makes mistakes, and when we do, we must accept responsibility for them.
Taking responsibility for your actions is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, in some situations, admitting our mistakes is the best course of action.
This step does not apply to someone else who is destroying your reputation without your consent.
Clean up Your Digital Presence
Make sure your social media accounts are free of inappropriate photos, comments, or posts. To maintain a positive online presence, be sure to remove content that might be deemed inappropriate or controversial. If you’re seeking a new position, this is particularly true.
Does this mean you should lose sleep over getting canceled? No. You shouldn’t fear the cancel culture reaper. Instead, it’s holding yourself accountable and using common sense. After all, if there’s a picture of you making a keg stand, how would that reflect on your professional appearance? And, if you have made controversial statements in the past, apologize and make an effort to learn why these remarks were insensitive.
Your business or website will rank higher in search results if you use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.
However, if you want to rank for those keywords, you need to create valuable content that targets those terms. In the wake of a bad review, creating this content is even more crucial.
By creating informative and helpful content, you will be able to prevent damaging information about you and your company from ranking higher in search engines.
It’s important to note that 75% of searchers never look past the first page of results. So, even if some negative reviews about you are lingering, they’ll probably land on the second or third page.
Fresh and quality content is also highly valued by search engines. Your site should have a blog if it doesn’t already. You should also create social media profiles and update them regularly with engaging content. For business owners, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to claim your business on Google and Yelp.
If you want people to know more about your company, you can post valuable information about it. And by boosting positive search engine results for your business through SEO, you can help to bury negative results farther down the results page.
One more thing, this can be overwhelming for the average person. Thankfully, some tools can help, such as Linktree. Multiple links can be created using this platform on different social media platforms, particularly Instagram. This tool allows you to create a landing page for your work and other profiles that can host various links. Furthermore, these landing pages can be customized to include all the relevant links that your followers should know about to improve your brand’s reputation.
Suppress Negative Content
It can be challenging to remove negative information from the web once it has been posted.
If someone posts inappropriate, defamatory content about your business, you can contact Google and ask them to remove the content. To find out what kinds of content Google will remove, check out their removal policies.
You can contact Yelp to find out if negative reviews are legitimate. In addition, some online review sites might remove comments if you can show some of the reviews were made in anger.
The webmaster may still have to be contacted to remove the content from the site if the content is removed. The fact that an item does not appear in Google results does not mean that it has disappeared from the Internet.
While it would be ideal for getting negative search results removed from the internet, in reality, this is a difficult task.
While some search engines honor removal requests, it doesn’t mean that the information won’t resurface later, even if it’s removed or deindexed. Suppression is a long-term solution that enhances your current online identity while protecting your reputation in the future. This, again, is why you need to implement SEO by sharing more constructive and positive content.
Respond to Reviews
You probably have some reviews floating around that need a public response. It’s essential to respond to both positive and negative reviews! The reason is that 89% of consumers read the responses businesses provide to reviews. That’s a lot of potential customers who are interested in your reviews.
Whenever you receive a positive review, thank and appreciate it. Be sure to say “thank you for choosing us” and “we appreciate your business” often. Don’t forget to be positive and genuine in your responses.
To get new reviews, implement a strategy to obtain them from satisfied customers/clients. For example, if you would like to leave a review, you may send them an email drip campaign, ask them in person, or even hand out a business card.
It is more challenging to respond to negative reviews. So, when necessary, apologize when appropriate, use restraint and maintain professionalism. And always try to move the conversation from the spotlight through DMs or emails.
Feel Free to Brag
Getting a great review is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, use something extraordinary someone says about your business to your advantage. How? By sharing it on social media, putting it on your website, or even sending it out in one of your email newsletters.
You can give your reviews more power by sharing and bragging about them. With minimal effort, they can help you attract new clients or customers while maintaining a stellar reputation online.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
To avoid the snowball effect of mishandled negative feedback, monitor and respond to reviews and online mentions.
Companies use reputation management software to manage and respond to online reviews and mentions. So be sure to monitor your inbox for feedback and complaints from customers, as well as respond to them.
Remember, negative reviews or feedback are an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that you genuinely value the insight of others. And that you care about the quality of your goods, services, or brand. As a result, you gain the trust of your customers and strengthen your brand credibility.
It would be unreasonable, though, to do this manually. The good news? There are plenty of tools that can automate these tasks for you:
- Google Alerts. Tracks mentions of your brand on the web
- Hootsuite. Social media monitoring for brand mentions
- Ahrefs. Monitors keyword rankings for your brand
Call in the Calvary
If you are having problems with your online reputation, even if you are actively improving it, then working with a consultant or an internet defamation attorney is perhaps the most effective solution. These specialists can find and implement the online reputation management tools that will work best for your specific needs much more quickly and adeptly with an outside perspective.
At first, repairing your online reputation may seem impossible. However, it’s possible and imperative to identify the sources of any negative brand sentiment and then take action by removing or suppressing it. Furthermore, creating positive content for the search engines to index or adding more positive reviews can proactively improve your brand’s reputation.
Additionally, it will require time to repair your reputation. The results of SEO strategies can take between 6 and 12 months to appear. However, negative reviews can be repaired in a few weeks or months if you work hard at them.
It won’t happen overnight for a damaged online reputation to be repaired. But, if you stick with it, you will see changes with time and dedication.
Image Credit: Ono Kosuki; Pexels; Thank you!
John Hall is the co-founder of Calendar a scheduling and time management app. He’s also a keynote speaker that you can book at http://www.johnhallspeaking.com.