One of the most disheartening things for business owners nowadays is the fact that people like to resolve their issues online….on platforms like Google+ and Yelp….in the form of negative reviews and rants.  We know that though there are plenty of people that are more than happy with our products and services, but all it takes is one less than ideal experience to leave a negative review.  This is a frustrating realization that isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

So what are the basics of Online Reputation Management, or ORM, as we will continue to call it?  To start, let us preface by saying that some parts of ORM can be achieved using some SEO tactics, but as a whole it really is its own discipline.  Think of it more like digital public relations.  SEO comes in when you want to rank certain webpages higher than other pages that besmirch your brand (hopefully your brand isn’t being targeted brutally enough where it is featured negatively on news sites, blogs, articles, and other press releases).  At that point, it would be an SEO battle of where they are positioned on search queries.

If you have your negative image contained on a site like Google+ or Yelp (really to me, the biggest ones to worry about) there are a couple different ways to handle it:

Google+:  First, you should identify if the person actually has a real account or is a real person you’ve dealt with.  I’ve seen plenty of times especially in the legal field where it is a fake profile from a competitor.  This is easier to report than other websites.

Yelp: I have one great example of what swayed my completely justified 2 star review into a 4 star review.  One of the best ways to really get the ball rolling on a change of heart is to do what you’d probably imagine – respond to the negative review and ask the person what you could do to fix the situation.  Come in for a complementary meal.  $20 off your next service.  In my particular instance, the email of the owner was given and I was actually made to be a secret shopper for several months with a generous weekly stipend.  I felt like I was a true contributor to the improvement of the establishment and eventually with the dedication of management and the engagement of my feedback, they did indeed get a better review.

What if your problems go beyond a few review sites, and you have entire negative articles targeting your company? Some people will ask you to pay money to have them taken down (which I have no idea how that isn’t blackmail).  Others will simply refuse to do it.  The best you can really do at this point is put positive information online that pushes these pages down in the results.  Here are some strategies that have worked for us in the past:

Press Releases: Have an event you want to talk about in your community?  How about a new hire or something charitable you did?  A press could get picked up by plenty of local news sources and hopefully create authoritative pages on a typical result including your business name/brand.  At the very least, you should dominate all of the “News” related queries.

Social Media Sites: Believe us, social media doesn’t stop at just Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.  There are literally hundreds of sites that are technically social media sites, and each one of them has a chance of pushing a negative page down.  Just look at this list – they aren’t all in the US, but they all can make a difference.

Microsites: If your business doesn’t have a website, that’s a first no-brainer to make.  If you already do have a site, it wouldn’t hurt to make another site or two that is more catered to your branding, your testimonials, and community involvement.  These would be optimized solely towards your positive endeavors.

Pages on Other Websites: Have any partnerships with other companies, or charities you’ve worked with?  Having a page about your company on another website could be another result in a search that brings out the positive before the negative.

Thinking about getting an ORM campaign off the ground but don’t know where to start?  Market My Market can put you on the right track.  Contact us today to learn more.