5 Ways To Manage Your Online Reputation

March 28, 2011

Sometimes people have it out for each other with or without reason. The same thing can happen when it comes to one website in competition with another or when a customer is displeased with your company. Bad online reputations can occur for a number of reasons. You competition might have it out for you and may be seeding bad reviews for your site and could even create negatively biased sites aimed at outranking you. In the same vein, completely legitimate bad reviews and customer complaints can taint other customers’ experience with your services. Understanding how you can counteract these unwelcome blemishes and successfully manage your online reputation is important for the continued success of your website and brand as a whole.

Finding and Handling Customer Feedback, Sentiment and Complaints

1. Google Alerts: The best thing about Google Alerts is it’s free. Google Alerts can be used to monitor both legitimate customer feedback and competitors muddying the waters through dishonest practices. Monitoring mentions of your brand name is the first step towards recognizing when your irritated customers are negatively affecting your online rep. Set an alert that either monitors your brand name (for example LunaMetrics), negative keywords (for example LunaMetrics Complaints, LunaMetrics Issues, etc. etc.) or any other keywords you think would help bring issues to your attention through daily or weekly email updates. Google Alerts should be used to measure positive feedback about your website as well. It’s all about understanding the conversations going on about your brand in the online space, while trying to turn negative customer feedback into a positive experience.

2. Facebook & Twitter: In almost all cases, except with some companies working solely business to business, your company should have a presence on these two platforms to help ensure the conversations about your business are occurring in areas where you can have direct input. While most agree, myself included, that engaging your fans and updating your accounts is important, it’s still important that your brand is present on each of these social networks even if you don’t have the resources to devote to spending lots of time on them. Occasional upkeep can suffice if you’re pressed for time, especially for smaller companies and when few users engage you directly. Answer complaints, questions, comments and concerns to help correct any issues or shine light on an ongoing conversation. No matter what business you’re in, there are going to be occasionally unhappy customers. You can either ignore them or recognize this subset of customers and help turn them into an example of your brand’s outstanding customer service.

3. Social Media Monitoring Tools: When your company is either big or popular, you already have a huge following and high levels of brand loyalty. Regardless if you take part or not, conversations about your products are occurring on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Simply existing on these networks in these cases may not be enough, but trying to keep up with all the interaction may seem overwhelming even for an experienced team of social media strategists. That’s where social media monitoring tools like Radian6, HootSuite and others come in handy for sifting through the masses. With these tools you can help keep positive impressions about your website, while answering any concerns that arise. This will leave your site looking better than if conversations were left unanswered and incorrect information unchallenged.

Dealing with Angry Customer or Competitor Websites

Occasionally there are competitors (or really, really angry customers — think Dell Hell) who will go all out and create entire web properties with the intent of defaming your brand. There are a variety of ways to deal with this kind of issue.

Dell Hell

4.Respond To These Web Properties: If you’ve discovered through your various monitoring tools or regular web browsing a website defaming your brand for whatever reason, it’s time to react. These websites are often competitors trying to devalue your brand appeal or from upset customers, mad enough to create a website about it. If they begin to outrank you for certain search terms it could become a big problem for your business. Once you’ve discovered a website of this nature be sure to comment on their forums, comment on their blog, email one of the email address provided or let your voice be heard in any way possible.

Try to answer complaints and issues the website addresses to the best of your knowledge, providing actionable solutions to these customer’s perceived problems. Unfortunately, many of these website’s comment sections and forums have a moderation filter, which may block your input. There’s also the possibility that the people behind these websites may not be willing to listen to your side of the story, especially if they’ve gone far enough to build a website about their issues. So, it’s worth a try, but not a guaranteed way to solve the issue.

5.Extensive Search Engine Optimization: Many of the above tactics allow you to monitor the actions of others online and allow you to react accordingly. As long as a website is practicing honest SEO tactics, then it is very hard to remove them from searches related to your brand that they are ranking for through legitimate tactics. However, there is one thing you can do to fight back against customers and competitors that you’ve already tried to appease, further optimize your own site.

The SEO of your own website is certainly a way of managing your online reputation without the input of outsiders. By optimizing your website with more high-quality content it will help make you the authority on the industry. Seeking links from related industry institutions and professionals will help build you a credible reputation within search engines and among other websites. Optimizing various on-page elements of your websites will help further raise existing pages on site to higher, more relevant searches. There’s no guarantee you’ll outrank your competition, but over time these efforts can continue to help you build trust in the online marketplace.

What tools and techniques do you use to monitor your online reputation?