Proactive Online Reputation Management
Proactive online reputation management is all about getting good things said about you on the internet to:
- Balance or move out of the search results any negative content that may already exist.
- Give potential customers more confidence in you.
- Make any negative content that appears lack credibility.
So if you have a very good star rating on a third party review website or your are recommended on a forum or featured as part of an answer these are all positive aspects about you outside your own domain name.
Building positive content is a task that has to be done with care and tact so it does not look false or like a piece of posted text trying to achieve a hard sell. This is why, if possible, it is best to get your past visitors or customers to do it for you.
If you have seen a website show up in the search results with lots of yellow stars underneath it, these will have come from a review website. The overwhelming temptation is to jump on board.
There are far too many review websites to list here but almost all of them suffer from one common problem, they are loosing money hand over fist.
This means that spending time building up a good list of reviews on many of these services could count for nothing if they collapse one day taking all the data with them.
There is also a shadey side to many review websites that has lead to many users making claims which cannot be proved either way. These include:
- Negative reviews appearing if you decide not to join (or you decide to leave) their paid subscription membership programmes.
- Positive reviews disappearing if you don't agree to join their paid subscription membership programmes.
While providers like Yelp! are the center of many court action cases at the moment they are not the only ones fielding accusations.
The net result is that I only recommend using Google+ for hosting your reviews. Simply because there is a fair chance they will be around tomorrow. For most of the rest, if they can't figure out how to turn a profit in the next couple of years, they will become part of internet history ... along with your reviews.
As a technical note you must have registered on Google+ as a place to use this service. If you register as a business, organisation or any other type you will see a review tab in your profile page but your visitors won't ... odd.
Getting visitors to leave reviews
There are some internet users who are hard core reviewers. They want to write their thoughts on anything and everything. They are few and far between.
However there are plenty of people who will, if asked, write a review. So ask!
Here are some ways to do so:
- If your website is content (e.g. a blog, pictures, etc) have a link at the end of each page asking customers to review your site if they liked it and link this to your Google+ Local profile or wherever you have decided to host your reviews.
- If you sell a product then put in place a system, automated or manual, where you email your customers x number of days after the product has been dispatched asking them for feedback and linking to wherever you host your reviews.
Note this is a long hard grind. Only expect a 1-3% response rate but expect it to pay off in the end.
If a website has thousands of Facebook fans or G+s or Twitter followers it makes any negative comments that appear on the web hard to believe. Not totally unbelievable however as a fair number of people know all these factors can be purchased (e.g. 1,000 facebook fans, etc.).
But for those who are not in the know it is a powerful message that you are popular, even if one or two people have their grumblings.
So make sure your website design includes obvious ways for people to engage with and join your social media profiles.
Get quoted in the press
Becoming one of those people that journalists ask for a quote when they have a story to write is extremely difficult to achieve but gives your website huge kudos when you do. Moreover journalists tend to come back to their sources time and time again, and other journalists will want to steal you as a source too.
So it's a hard rock to move but once you get it rolling you can create exceptional momentum. Furthermore a website, person or business that appears in the press gets a real feather in its cap. Imagine if you searched a company name and found mentions in all sorts of media publications. It would give you both confidence and cast doubt over any negative content you had seen.
Of course everybody wants to be mentioned in the main stream media so they are inundated with requests from those who want to be quoted. For most standing in line here won't get you far. Instead try:
- Starting local with publications in your town or area.
- Digging out very niche publications that deal with your subject area.
- Registering on services such as Help a Reporter Out (http://www.helpareporter.com/) where they will find you rather than you finding them.