If you are looking to do business in the online space, then your reputation must be of the utmost importance. Your first impression is likely not your website. Your potential customers will probably read something about you before they read anything that you have to say about yourself. With that in mind, you should pay particular attention to the things that are written about you online.
Your Online Reputation
Your online reputation is based off of the things that are written about you online. You have somewhat of a say about your online reputation, as some of the things that are written about you online are written by you. However, there is no way that you can control your online reputation directly.
You may not believe that you have any control over what people write about you online, and you are half right. Although the anonymity of the Internet allows people to write whatever they want about you with little recourse, you do have control over what people actually see. You must first understand the importance of how even just one bad article can completely destroy your online reputation for good.
The Way Content Shows Up Online
Many small companies never make it out of the starting gate because of their inability to overcome the inertia of social media and search engine stagnation. It is hard enough to break into the first page of Google, much less stay there for any substantial period of time. As many market research companies have proven, if your listing is not on the first three pages of Google for your preferred keyword, you may as well not be on the Internet at all.
The way that many small businesses overcome this initial inertia is to give their product to kingmakers in their industries. These are usually the bloggers or reviewers that already have a standing audience. If they say that the product or service that your business is offering is viable, those people are likely to try it. If they like it, then they will leave good reviews on public review websites like Yelp. Word has the potential to spread from there.
If the initial word about your product or service is bad, then you may never have a chance to overcome that first impression. Bad news travels much faster than good news. If the kingmakers or the early adopters begin writing about your product as a bad choice or an inferior brand, this is the content that will rise to the top in search engine results first. Google, Yahoo and Bing employee a “grandfather clause” that gives precedence to older content. If you make improvements on your product and send it out later, the positive reviews on these products will not carry as much weight as the older reviews that were negative.
That One Bad Article
If you get an initial review from any one of the above sources that is bad, you may never be able to overcome it without professional help. At the beginning of the process, getting in touch with these people directly to take a negative review down will usually only result in further dirt being kicked on your name. First impressions are everything. That one bad article can ruin an entire brand for the entirety of the life of a business.
However, this is not the only time that one bad article can completely tank your online reputation.
Even established companies have to play nice with certain kingmakers and first adopters in an industry. The people with the eyeballs of the rest of the industry always have the power to make your life miserable if they so choose. These are not the only people who can ruin your brand with one bad article.
People love drama. If a virtual unknown creates a well-written article that showcases your product in a negative light, they can sometimes receive just as much attention as one of the kingmakers. This person can be a customer that you have offended. It can also be a plant from a competitor who understands social media and search engine optimization. That’s right; do not put it past your competitors to use this tactic to ruin your reputation online. If you do not have an appropriate response, then will lose sales from people that you did not even know were looking at your content.
Protecting Your Online Reputation
Fortunately, there are ways to combat that one bad article. However, you most likely will not be able to do it alone. There are too many people on the Internet for you to ever respond to every negative article with a positive article. You need to outsource your search engine optimization to a company that understands how to manipulate the rankings. Manipulation should not be seen as a negative term. You are putting forth the most positive descriptions of your products so that people can make their own decisions without being unduly influenced by people who may have a personal bone to pick with you.
“Reputation management company” is the term that is used by professional search engine marketers who can help you build and maintain a positive presence online. As long as your products are good and your service is adequate, your potential customers should be allowed to look at the content that presents your product in a positive light. There are ways that a reputation management company can push the positive articles about your company and your product above negative articles. A true professional can do this even if the negative articles were written before the positive articles.
Make sure that you do not underestimate the ability of one negative article to completely tank your brand and your product. Most people will not approach you if they hear something bad about your product; you will never hear from that person at all. The potential sales that might have gained will be gone without your knowledge. This alone is reason enough to make sure that you have the most positive portrait of your brand and your product pushed on the major search engines. One of the primary investments that you should make in your online marketing campaign is an online reputation management program.