Digital marketing can do a lot of things. But, just as in every part of life, digital marketing has a priority of needs. Online reputation management is an often overlooked primary need that many businesses must address, especially if they are getting negative reviews. Beyond social media, online reputation management problems often present themselves in the form of negative reviews.
Imagine you’re a national or regional business that has a good, or even great, record of service.
Your organization is not incredibly sophisticated about its digital marketing strategies but you know that there are some negative online reviews on the Web that don’t reflect your real service. At some point in time, you start noticing that your sales are stalling or web conversion rates are declining. You realize that after you’ve done all the hard work to find the customer and prepare them for a buy that she goes and searches your company name. There, right after your main website on the first page of search results, you find a review site featuring the fewer than 1% of customers that had a bad experience. The negative online review strikes and strikes again. Your reputation takes the hit.
What To Do: “Zig When They Zag.”
You might find this odd, but you’re in extremely good company if your business has received a few negative online reviews that show up in an Internet search. It may sound like heresy, but it’s true.
The Internet captures everything, so if you have any business with any size customer base, you’ll have some negative reviews along with the millions of other businesses out there. The problem isn’t the review. It’s where it shows up on a search result. If you have a real service issue, then you need to address it. But, if your company is really just missing a full digital marketing strategy, there are steps that you can take.
Here’s a quick top 5 list of activities you should be addressing in online reputation management:
- Social media: There are two impacts you can make with social. First, search engines are giving more and more weight to real time updates. If you are active and engaging your consumers, your social media updates will grab critical real estate on organic search results, pushing down the negative online reviews. Second, even if you cannot fully address the negative reviews that have been posted on sites, you can address those making waves through social media. A nice perk of this approach is that publicly addressing a service problem can often win you a lifetime customer.
- SEO: SEO is about getting rankings for search engines. In the case of the negative online reviews turning up on the first page, it means that these other review sites are outranking you. An effective SEO strategy will not only increase your rank for key terms, but will help you develop new pages and content that can take up more real estate, thereby drowning out negative content that exists elsewhere.
- Publish: Developing new properties can be essential. Some of this already exists in other platforms. Optimize your YouTube channel, Wikipedia page, information on your company management, your blog, etc. The name of the game is prime real estate. If you don’t have it, you need to develop it (and likely work with a “developer”).
- Create your own online reviews: This is one of those obvious opportunities, but so many businesses fail to take advantage. Help your best customers create reviews for you. Maybe you can’t make the bad reviews disappear, but by giving your fans the power of the “mighty pen” you empower them to help you tell your story. You’ll have to decide whether to create your own platform or send customers to general review platforms. There are many SEO considerations involved in either option.
- Content: You need to seed your properties with engaging and SEO-valuable content. Pictures, videos, blog posts all can help. Because your brand name sits at the center of this effort, a well orchestrated digital marketing strategy will allow you to achieve a higher ranking quickly. Search engines will consider you a very high authority on your own brand (as well they should).
We know that doing all of this is a lot easier said than done. Then again, it’s a lot harder to win customers when negative online reviews are chipping away at your reputation and your profits…