Online Reputation Management, or ORM, is essentially controlling what people see when they look up information about you online. A thing a lot of people are doing at the moment.
The common perception, however, is that ORM is solely about monitoring your social media conversations. While there’s certainly truth to that, ORM is actually much more than that.
So, here we will discuss some of the most important principles in applying ORM, as well as some core tactics you should implement.
Let us begin.
Important Principles of Reputation Management
While there can be many different approaches to ORM, here are some general principles that will apply to most ORM activities:
1. Popularity is more prevalent than the actual truth
This is true both for human readers and the search engine algorithms: what’s popular is often perceived as the truth, and what’s true won’t really matter if it’s not popular.
The search engines, especially, cannot properly determine whether the information is true or not, and what’s currently popular and posted by a lot of people will generally get the top rank.
2. Avoid clicking on negative content
While it’s understandable that clicking on negative pages or hate sites are tempting, doing this will give these pages CTR increases. This way, you are telling the search engines that this site is relevant, and it can rank higher.
This is especially true if you are telling your colleagues about the site, that can give it some significant traction.
3. It’s all about credibility
Building trusts can be extremely hard, and yet they are very easy lose. If people trust your brand, even negative reviews won’t have significant effect to your reputation.
So, work on improving credibility. Inbound marketing is currently the most effective way to establish credibility, putting yourself as the expert of your industry.
4. Know when to respond and when to keep silent
Know when to ignore and when to reply negative comments. In the case of social media complaints, for example, address them quickly and provide solutions when possible.
On the other hand, false accusations from malicious attackers generally should be ignored. You can take legal actions if necessary.
5. Keep monitoring things
The core aspect of ORM is about monitoring what others are saying about you, on social media and relevant review sites.
Monitoring opinions also has the benefit of finding new opportunities. For example, if you can engage those who are currently evaluating whether they should buy from your competitors, you can turn them to your direction instead.
6. Build social media presence
Your social media profiles are usually the top ranking results for branded keywords or your brand name (more on this below). So, make sure your profiles are up to date and consistent across all platforms.
7. Respect your own privacy
Be careful when posting sensitive, private details including information about team members that can be associated with your business. They can be used against you.
Also, avoid using any services that are selling your information, and avoid posting sensitive data on people-search sites.
8. The 1st page of Google SERP is your business card
The first page of Google search results for your name or branded keywords is your most important asset, and you should optimize this page at all cost through SEO (more on this below).
Pay extra attention when there’s a negative content on the first page. In this case, you will need to optimize your own content (and increase the quantity) to outrank these negative ones.
Key Tactics of Online Reputation Management
1. Managing Negative Reviews
First, we should understand that there are two different kinds of negative reviews. First, there are those who came from disappointed customers, and are aimed to give honest feedback. On the other hand, there are false claims that are solely aimed at destroying your reputation.
We should, however, avoid bias when distinguishing the two, which can affect our judgement and response.
For ‘authentic’ negative reviews, the best way is to respond quickly and politely. If you can, provide solutions ASAP, but don’t give them false promises. If it’s a brand new problem you currently don’t have any solutions on, respond with something like, “we are currently working on the problem and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
As we have mentioned further above, you should address false, malicious reviews seriously. You can ask the review sites (for example, Google Maps) to remove these false reviews provided you have sufficient proofs. Nevertheless, always be polite and don’t take rash actions when addressing this kind of malicious attack.
2. SEO: Optimizing The First Page of Search Results
In Online Reputation Management (ORM), the first page of SERP for branded keywords (i.e. your company name as the search query) is an integral aspect of your online presence, if not the most important one.
SEO is admittedly a pretty large topic on its own, but here are some best practices in relations to ORM:
- Social media profiles are usually the top results brand keywords and for your personal name as the search query. So, make sure you
- Decide on your most important brand keywords (if you are a professional, this will be your name), and optimize your site for this keyword.
- Use keyword research tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Google Keyword Planner to determine non-brand keywords you’d want to target.
- Develop content pieces targeting these keywords, and promote them.
3. Professional Help
In tough cases like hate sites and other serious attacks to your reputation, you might need the help of a professional to investigate the attack. Professional investigators or online analysts can help in identifying untraceable attacks.
Cyber investigations can be time consuming and sometimes, expensive. Yet, if the defamatory attack is threatening, it can be worth it in the long run.
On difficult cases, it is wise to avoid trying things by yourself, as it can lead to worse situations if you are not careful.
In this world when everything is online and social media is everywhere, Online Reputation Management (ORM) is now a necessity.
The thing is, the bigger you are as a brand or the more famous you are as a person, the more defamatory attacks you’ll get.
By following the principles and tactics we have shared above, and keep monitoring everything, you will not only maintain a positive reputation. Instead, you can grow as a business or as a professional.