Your Online Reputation and how to manage it
If you have an online presence there is most likely someone somewhere who is talking about you online. The ability to monitor your reputation and track what customers are saying about you is where online reputation management begins, by closely following social media profiles and consumer review websites as well as looking at what results are showing up on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). It is important to collect accurate results when evaluating your online reputation, as well as collecting information from customer review sites – and any other sites that may contain relevant information to your company. It may sound complicated or difficult, but in fact it’s pretty easy to monitor and evaluate your online reputation and what people are saying about you and your company. Even so, it doesn’t work by just typing in your business’ name online and searching; there are a few things you need to consider. The most important thing is to make sure that the results you collect are accurate and are collected from different platforms such as social media, customer review sites, forums etcetera; and they also need to be relevant to your business for them to be of use to you. If you were to just quickly search your business online it wouldn’t give you a very broad view and won’t help you to fix issues or resolve matters that your customers might need help with.
Utilising Search Engines to Evaluate Your Reputation
The first contact with most companies that people will have nowadays is through a quick query search on Google or other search engine providers. This means that this is a good place to start if you desire to evaluate your reputation and what your users think of you. One thing to note, however, is that search engines are a lot different to how they used to be a couple of years ago. Because of new technologies that have been implemented into modern search engines a lot more factors are considered when you search anything at all. For example, most search engines now use features like personalised results (and advertising) depending on your surfing habits and recent searches, geographical location etc. So your business may show up to you because you live close by, but it may not show up to somebody a few towns over; and preferences are also taken into consideration by search engines, which means that different users may be provided with different results depending on their individual preferences. Because of all these, it may be a good idea for you to invest in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which is a technology that will allow you to browse the web anonymously and privately as all the data will be encrypted, meaning not even your ISP can monitor your online activity. This will allow you to see your business from the point of view of somebody who may not know you.
The next step in evaluating your business using search engines is to make use of organic searches to search your business’ name, and also the keywords associated with what your business provides, as people who do not know your business but require the services you provide are more likely to search for those services instead of company names. An example of this would be a local plumbing business; people who would require its services would search things such as “local plumber”, “toilet repair”, “plumber near me” etcetera. You should do the same when searching for information on your business as you are more likely to get accurate results. If your company doesn’t appear when you search these keywords anonymously it might mean that you need to re-evaluate your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and online marketing strategies as they might need changing to get you to appear on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). On the other hand, if you find out you do appear but you don’t like how you are being represented, such as if there is a negative opinion on your business overall, you can take note of this and start to apply fixes such as adding more and more positive content to try and push the negative ratings down so that the positive ones are more visible and are better represented. If you can find your business on Google there will most likely be reviews already displayed underneath your contact details and such. This usually is only displayed when searching your specific business name along with “review” which will display reviews and ratings from sites like Yelp. Another thing you should consider searching when conducting your research is to search for the names of any high-up employees and business partners as if they are to gain a bad reputation or already have one this might show up when looking at your business and may cause people to be turned away and will reflect badly on the company in general. The final piece of advice that can be given is not to stick to one search engine. Everybody has different preferences and needs and this also relates to search engines as some people may prefer Bing to Google or Yahoo to Mozilla and so on. Different search engines may give different results so make sure to broaden your search efforts and branch out to different engines.
Monitoring Your Social Media Mentions
Social media has become an increasingly more popular platform for people to advertise their companies and for the public to learn about them and to see whether they would like to do business together or not. Because of how popular and highly used social media is, business’ utilising social media need to maintain a constant presence on all major platforms and they need to be active and engage with their customers to answer any questions, queries or problems. The most influential social media mentions and the most viewed ones may not appear immediately to you, so it is important that you directly monitor social media as well as the review sites to give you a better chance to respond to important matters and also to deal with negative feedback as soon as possible to minimise the damage it could cause. It may be wise for you to invest in an automated system to monitor your reputation on social media as it will give you the best overview. This is because glancing at your social media accounts when you have time may not give you the best view and you probably don’t have the time to keep checking too frequently meaning you may miss things and they could cause damage or you may leave important matters unaddressed which could damage your reputation. If you are to invest in an automated system it will work 24/7 and will send you alerts whenever anyone mentions your business online.