Online Reputation Management As A Business Strategy Beyond SEO
Online reputation management refers to safeguarding the reputation, character and image of a business or individual on the internet. While the internet has opened the doors of the world for everyone to connect, relate, share and interact across space, it has also provided ample opportunity to spread dishonest opinions, and provided ill-meaning entities to discredit organizations, smear their reputations and attempt to make them unpopular. This could be done for a number of reasons, some justified, especially after a bad experience, but most being carried out of jealously at the success achieved by the entity. Competitors often resort to this to try and pull down their more successful counterparts, so that they can surge ahead. The end result is often, a bad reputation, an image getting maligned and even loss of some customers. This is because most customers are not discerning enough to identify the truth behind the negative inputs.
This is where reputation management comes in, as a strategy to nullify the impact of negative sentiment placed online. It is becoming essential for companies to use this as an armor, since they cannot control everything that is said about them. While reputation management can do nothing about SEO rankings of the negative comments, it has to offer its own line of defense with caution, since getting into an animated discussion can be more damaging than helpful. Honesty, at all points pays, since the truth inevitably tumbles out.
Effective reputation management strategies
- Use SEO tactics to remove negative comments from search results– This is not easy since it requires an analysis of all the sites appearing in the top page listings in a search result. Reputed websites with a long online presence and good page record are more difficult to handle. The best way to remove negative inputs is by adding a lot of fresh content or remarks, which keeps the topic in discussion but pushes the negative statements further down. This may come for a price, and may sometimes rebound, but it may be worthwhile to walk the tightrope to maintain the reputation.
- Research for discussion and negotiation– a close research about the person planting the negative feedback, will indicate whether he is open to a discussion on the topic, so that the company can be defended and he is willing to retract his derogatory inputs. However, highhandedness and being abusive will not pay, this battle can be won with courtesy and respect. Trying to show down the other person, or question his credentials can rebound badly also.
- Black hat SEO tactics must be avoided– Black hat SEO can be more damaging for reputations, so in an attempt to negate all that has been damaging for the reputation of the business, avoid using them.
- Using social media to build a positive image– Social media networks like Twitter and Facebook can be a boon since they are the ideal public platform to build images and restore damage. The idea is to take the positive inputs so far ahead, as to negate the negative. However, caution is crucial and it must be done very subtly.
Forums are one place where a lot of negative feedback is posted. It is a good idea to join them and place your justification and sincerely try to defend your reputation. Freedom on the internet cannot be questioned, but it is important to have others understand what negative comments can do a company’s reputation.