Grading your online reputation is vital to the success of your business. In fact, even if you don’t run a business, your online reputation can affect the way potential employers see you. Sticking your head in the sand and refusing to deal with the reality of your situation is not a good way to deal with this issue. You can a proactive plan of attack that will help you identify, create an appropriate response and deal with any articles that represent you in a negative light. Even if the articles are blatant lies, your customers are going to find them and draw conclusions based on that information. Your company needs to have a system in place that continually diminishes negative publicity while promoting a positive view of our company or person. The techniques described are equally useful for any individual or company needing to spruce up their reputation.
Why Perception Is More Important Than Reality
Every article that ranks in Google is important if it contains information about your company. It doesn’t matter if it’s a positive or negative article about you, and it definitely doesn’t matter if the article is true or false. The only thing your customers are going to walk away with is that there is something bad to say about you or your company. In a world where your competitors are just a click away, why would anybody trust a company with countless negative reviews?
There are a few ways to overcome these issue, but first you need to know what is out there. Your first day should be spent tracking down and documenting any articles that negatively promote your brand. Once you have the knowledge of what is out there, you can begin to fix your reputation and build your personal or company brand. The exact techniques for dealing with each different type of content will vary depending on the publisher and where the article is located. But first, you must learn what is being said about you.
Impact of High Ranking Articles
If an article ranks extremely high on Google, it can have a damaging effect on your reputation. Imagine if a customer is searching for you online and directly above your business is an article talking about some negative customer experience. Chances are good that before they even visit your website, they are going to take a look at what this review says about you and your company. If the article is negative, you likely just lost a customer. Even if you outrank the negative article, the chance of a new customer finding the review is still high. This is why it’s so important to have a strong social presence. The impact of one negative article can often be negated by having a large following of customers, but any negative articles you find should still be addressed.
Reducing the Impact of Negative Articles
There are a few ways to reduce the impact of negative articles. The first option is to contact the owner of the article and ask the article to be removed. You have to be careful with this tactic because if the article is from someone who harbors a grudge against you, this could make the situation worse. They could cut and paste your email correspondence into the article and make the situation even worse. Still, if you approach the owner honestly and state-specific aspects of the article that you believe to be inflammatory, you may have good results.
If the owner won’t remove the article, the next best option is to try to push the article down in the search results so that it can’t be found. One way to do this is by creating a strong social media presence. When people search for your name or business, they will find your social media accounts listed first in the search engine results. Another option is to start creating quality content about your business. This way, your relevant content helps to push down the negative article in the search results, and you look better to customers. Register for as many social media sites as you can manage, but make sure to make each site your own and post relevant content.
Understanding what to post on each social networking site can be difficult. In general, you want to save your longer and less frequent posts for Facebook. Use Twitter to send out frequent messages about your business, talk about new products and provide contests and special offerings. With Pinterest, you can create a catalog of your items and make it possible for people to search for items based on category or segment. Instagram could be used to post one-off pictures of people at work, your manufacturing process or your products. Research each social networking site you use to determine how other companies are using social media to promote their brand, and do the same thing with your company.
Another thing you can do to push down negative results is to stay active online. Make sure you use your real name to register for sites that are relevant to your business. Establish yourself as the expert you are, and give free advice to people who are looking to solve a problem. This will go a long way toward helping you achieve the kind of positive results in the search results that you want. Additionally, if a customer comes asking questions about any negative reviews, you can address their concerns in a very public and open way. Just make sure to avoid blaming and try to stick to the facts of any negative situation.
Get a Higher Ranking
Another thing you can do to reduce the impact of negative articles is to improve your own ranking. One way Google does this is by seeing how many other websites link to your brand. The better the quality of the website, the higher your site will rank. While you can rank between your own personally created websites, this isn’t as effective as having someone in the industry rank to your site. The quality of the link is just as important as the number of the links. It’s a bit like chess where when you play and beat a higher-ranked player in chess, your own score goes up. If you play a lower-ranked player, it’s not going to help you. Aim to get listed by the top websites in your industry to get the best results.
Improve your appearance in search results by hiring a writer or write your own articles. Improve your ranking by creating a section on your site that provides in-depth, well-thought-out articles that really help to promote your brand. By doing this, you can dominate your niche and bring in more traffic to your site. If you offer free advice that people really want to know, you stand to position yourself as an industry leader and a few negative articles won’t matter so much anymore.
Link any article you write to all of your social media accounts. If readers like your articles they will give you a link back. This will result in higher overall rankings for your business. By ranking highly, you can suppress most negative comments.
Turn a Negative Into a Positive
If you come across an article that ranks high for a particular keyword, try to reclaim that keyword. For example, if you search for “My Company Window Cleaner,” and the results show a negative review of your services, create several articles with the keyword in an attempt to outrank the article. In most cases, an article that is longer, better written, and with better links to it will outrank a single negative review. If it’s seriously hampering your business, buy ads for that specific keyword. This way you can be certain that you’re getting your business in front of customers first. Use the keyword in all of your content, and eventually, you should start to see the impact of that negative article fade into the sunset.
The Nuclear Option
If you really want and need to get a defamatory article removed from the search results and the owner of the article won’t budge, you can resort to litigation. In some cases, litigation may not be feasible. However, even sending a letter from a law firm to the website owner may be enough to get a negative article removed. This option should be reserved for only the most serious of situations, and you shouldn’t use this on a website that is spammy or untrustworthy to begin with. Customers are smart, and if they come across a spammy website with a bad review, they are more likely to treat it like a dangerous part of town. Most people will want to get away from poor websites as quickly as possible.
Protecting Yourself From Defamatory Articles
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to control the conversation about your company. Use an Omni-communication method to make it possible for your customers to contact you directly about any problems. It’s better to lose a little money and give the customer what they want than to spend money trying to get a negative review taken down. By making your company available to resolve all problems, you can avoid most issues in the first place. It’s impossible to make all customers happy, but you can reduce any instances of consumer rage by being available and making the customer feel respected and valued. You may even save a valuable consumer relationship.
The way to make yourself available o your customers is by using all of your social media accounts as potential points of contact. Use software that allows you to track all of your social media feeds, and respond to every customer comment and request. Even provide customer service through your social media accounts. For a customer to leave a negative review, it usually means that your company failed at some point along the way. If you’re an individual that is being attacked, you can respond to any articles on your social media accounts. However, you should avoid getting into a flame war. This is typically what people who are attacking you want.
In the end, there is only so much you can do to keep your reputation online positive by yourself. There may come a time when you need the help of a professional company to help you keep your reputation in high regard. Sometimes, the best way to manage your reputation is to hire a firm with the expertise needed to clear up your past.