Managing the Online Reputation for your Business

SEO Inc Reviews and Online Reputation Management

The Internet is a funny place. It has given us so much, from the free sharing of information to the ability to connect with people from all over with the simple click of a button. It can make you rich and make you a million friends without leaving your bed. But with great power comes great responsibility. And unfortunately, not everyone on the World Wide Web uses this power for good and decides to spread potentially hurtful information that could be detrimental to you and your brand. Heck, chances are, someone might be badmouthing you right this second… It’s just the way it goes. But all hope is not lost. Read on for some tips on managing the online reputation of your business.

Fully Own Every One of Your Online Properties and Presence

Physically, you can’t be in two, three, or a hundred places simultaneously. But you can be consistent and “present” across your online properties. Research and find out where your brand/company/business is being mentioned.

  • You must take responsibility for your brand, from review sites to social media outlets. Ensure all of your pages are consistent with your brand image, voice, and company mission.
  • Ensure your contact information is current so people can contact you.
  • Update your employee page to reflect employees still working at your company. (While this sounds like a no-brainer, not every company keeps this current, and it could create unnecessary animosity if a former employee still sees their contact information and pictures on the “team” page.)
  • Keep all the content you post current and engaging so that if someone is speaking ill of you online, it won’t seem you are only responding to the critics.

Monitor All Activity                                                                           

If you aren’t aware of what people are saying about you, either good or bad, how will you be able to respond accordingly? Set up a few Google Alerts for the different names people could use for your company. For instance, we use Alerts pointing to terms such as “SEO Inc,” “SEOINC,” “Search Engine Optimization Incorporated,” SEO Incorporated,” etc. Google is good about delivering their alerts to you in real-time, depending on how you set it up, so you can rest assured you’ll be able to respond accordingly to comments in time. This is sometimes a lot for the head of a company to take on, so if possible, hire a Brand Reputation manager to monitor activity across all sites.

Act. Do not React. 

People will try to get your goat. Being online allows everyone to post whatever they like with virtually no recourse. So what do you do when someone leaves a nasty comment about your business with an anonymous moniker? How do you respond? What do you say? Remember, preventative maintenance is critical. Have a process in place before a PR disaster hits.

Not responding promptly to online criticism can be seen as simply not caring about the issue, which reflects poorly and adds even more ire to the fire. However, responding rashly can be even worse.

“THIS COMPANY IS A SCAM” might be something you’ll see online from a “brave” anonymous person. Responding with, “WHATEVER. YOU’RE A SCAM AND WERE A TERRIBLE EMPLOYEE / CLIENT / HUMAN BEING,” is NOT the way to handle the situation, even if every ounce of your being wants to scream that from a mountaintop.

Take a breath, read the review several times, count to 10, and respond with a level head. Engaging in conversation is a slippery slope, as you can get yourself into a wormhole. Try to keep it general and gather any personal information you can from the negative reviewer. Offer to reach out with a phone call or in-person meeting. Even if the individual who left the review might not be responsive to this, others will see you made a solid attempt to “right the wrong,” you will look more trustworthy to those reading up on you.

While we’re focusing a good deal on the negative, remember there are people out there that love you! And it’s in your best interest not to neglect their feedback either. Thank those positive reviewers in real-time, too. It will only further cement you in their heads as a reputable company that cares.

Now we get into the ever-so-murky waters of trolls and fake reviews. You’ll have to come to terms with the fact that some people on the Internet exist to hate everything. On the other hand, fake reviews are a bit more challenging to handle. Best practice for obvious spam from Internet trolls? Respond with slight humor or a mere question about the study. If you can’t tell if the review is fake, treat it as accurate until you’re 100% sure it’s not. Follow the previously discussed measures to take to deal with the negative review.

Above all, act like a grownup. Don’t get drawn into grade-school squabbles of he said, she said, and blame games. If a negative reviewer tries to get you down a wormhole like this, back up and realize it’s not getting you anywhere. Best to move on.

Get Legal (If you have to)                   

While anyone can say anything about anyone anywhere online, companies can still take legal action if things get wildly out of hand. Ensure you fully understand the policies and terms of service for all sites you are mentioned. You can always sue for slander. But remember, lawsuits cost bundles and can take a long time. Especially lawsuits about online issues are not open-and-shut cases. A LAWSUIT SHOULD BE YOUR LAST RESORT.

Don’t Fake It Until You Make It          

Do not, we repeat, do not leave fake reviews anywhere for your company for the sole purpose of boosting your brand reputation. “Astroturfing,” or employing fake reviews on one’s behalf, is frowned upon. This isn’t to say you can’t encourage and incentivize your employees to leave reviews when appropriate. Just ensure the reviews are legit, and there isn’t suddenly an influx of positive reviews from within the company when and if a bad review hits.

It boils down to this: People will leave negative comments anywhere they can online. These can come from dissatisfied customers, ex-employees, people that don’t like you for some reason, and everywhere in between. Be prepared for these comments and have a good Brand Reputation team or firm intact and ready to handle any situation that might arrive. The best you can do is your best. Like the late comedian Mitch Hedberg said, “You can’t please all the people all the time, and last night, all those people were at my show.”


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