Archive for the ‘Reputation Management’ Category

Ensure Your Business Looks Good Online

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Guest post by Carrie Bauer.

Before the Internet, making a good first impression often meant face-to-face interactions at business meetings, conferences and lunches. With so much commerce now taking place online, impressions are a given in cyberspace. Successful online business people must be proactive in cultivating business on their own by creating a positive public image, being authentic and likeable.

ORM

Online Reputation ManagementThis is where ORM, or online reputation management, comes in. ORM is the practice of making people and businesses look their best online, where there are only virtual handshakes. People need to control their search results because they often contain outdated, inaccurate or misleading information. To keep this from happening, companies like Reputation.com, provide ORM as well as Internet privacy protection to clients. Reputation companies also works to protect a person’s privation information from being made public.

BusinessNewsDaily.com quoted Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation.com, as saying the number one reason companies use reputation services is for companies to proactively manage it’s reputation. He continues, “It’s a lot cheaper to avoid a problem before you have it. If you’re not proactively managing, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to neutral or unhelpful information.”

Get Real

Inc.com suggests not using pseudonyms or generic addresses and instead providing real telephone numbers and e-mail addresses to be authentic. Adding a photo or introduction video adds to the business’s believability. A privacy policy can’t hurt either. For more credibility, testimonials can be placed online so customers can help with the business’s marketing. When criticism does arise, though, business people should provide comment, context or correction, Inc.com advises.

When people do try to reach businesses online, there should be a quick response. Not responding is the same as not answering a telephone call. People want to be valued if they are going to give you there business.

Another way to build authenticity is to provide interesting details about a business, such as how delivery and customer service are handled. Video, audio, blog posts and pull-quotes can help achieve this.

Be Likeable Via Social Media

Having a good business at the start should eliminate most negative publicity, but sometimes bad Internet feedback results from truly poor service or customer experiences. Or people will post a malicious review because of a misperceived slight. ORM is all about search engine optimization. ORM companies can decrease visibility by pushing negative results lower on a search-engine results page.

And since bad news travels fast on the Internet, eliminating as much of it as possible is essential, whether the target is an individual or a business.

Make Social Platforms Unanimous

Again, thinking ahead is essential for having a positive online appearance. Social media can be used effectively, Inc.com adds, by having company employees keep their LinkedIn profiles up-to-date. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are other ways to create a virtual presence and cultivate a following. Having those social media accounts updated regularly also helps individuals while seeking a job.

Time mentions a 2010 study by Microsoft and Cross-Tab, a market-research agency, which found 78 percent of surveyed U.S. companies examined the search-engine results of prospective hires. Also, the study discovered 86 percent of employers reported a positive online reputation factors into their hiring decisions.

About the author: A legal and financial consultant for artists and celebrities, Carrie Bauer is a hardworking woman who believes that work is pleasure.

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Brand Reputation Management in a Mobile and Online World

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Guest post by Megan Totka.

Today’s social/mobile/local technology makes reputation management a big concern for many businesses. The online dynamic makes it easier than ever for customers to take out their frustrations about a bad experience or share a heartfelt allegiance to a particular company. Websites like Yelp, Foursquare and TripAdvisor allow users to “check in” every time they visit a business. Users can then rate their trip from one to five stars, add comments, add quick tips, tell others what to avoid and what to definitely do, and review their overall experience. For customers these online services, which are even more readily accessible because of mobile apps and different mobile marketing companies, can impact which new places they visit.

Brand Reputation Management is Challenging for Small BusinessesFor small business owners though, these online review sites can be a headache, not just because customers will inevitably point out your flaws, but because they make reputation management extremely challenging. This is why web presence has to be made a priority. Not that a business should ignore online reviews, certainly; some can be very helpful in pointing out necessary changes to your company to make you more successful in the future. But the danger is business owners can become obsessed with bad reviews. This obsession can be very hurtful to a small business owner. Rather than focusing on important business operations, owners are too involved with the uncontrollable. This can include loosing too much revenue by trying to please customers who posted bad reviews, allowing negative feelings about reviews to impact employee morale, or making too many changes in trying to please every customer. Business owners need to find a balance between addressing unhappy customers through online reviews and ignoring trolls just out to cause trouble or get something for free.

To better understand the perspective, think of the “old school” newspaper reviews. Food critics and movie reviews would be posted weekly. These treviews along with features on schools, hotels and local businesses would be published, written by professionals. Brand reputation management was much simpler then. With their own reputations at stake, writers had to post truthful information and be as objective as possible. Businesses could request a retraction if something written were completely outrageous. The information was considered trustworthy because it was the job of a professional reviewer to be informative and accurate. These types of review still get posted and read but often aren’t as influential as in the past.

The online effect of having users able to impact the decisions of other customers requires small businesses to better understand reputation management. Businesses with established brands can perhaps afford to lose a few customers to a bad review. But small businesses rely on continued positive word of mouth (and “word of mouse”) to keep their name spreading from happy customers to their friends.

To best control brand reputation, small business owners should use tactics like open communications with employees and customers, empathy for the customers’ needs and concerns, and flexible but throughtful processes for handling issues. Small business managers need to know appropriate corrective measures that keep their best customers coming back while attracting new customers as well.

For more reputation management tips, read up on using social media to your advantage to increase your web presence, and customer service techniques to keep clients loyal.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber of Commerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources.

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Best Web Presence Optimization Guides and Tips of 2011

Monday, March 26th, 2012

One of the most interesting aspects of web presence optimization (WPO) is how frequently bloggers and journalists write about the concept without actually using the term. They use terms like “search and social,” “inbound marketing,” “social media optimization,” “online reputation management,” “internet marketing” and others, with general agreement that the art and science of getting found on the web today require much more than just SEO–but no consensus on what to call it.

Rand Fishkin recently devoted 1,700 words to the topic of conversations about the industry’s nomenclature and inspired nearly 170 comments, all with no mention of WPO. Krista LaRiviere (see below), a co-founder of gShift Labs, is one of the few bloggers who have embraced the term.

Oh well, whatever you call the discipline of maximizing a company’s online visibility in a world where search is much more than Google-Yahoo-Bing and where web presence is much more than a corporate website, here are 18 of the best blog posts and articles from the past year on how to do it well.

Web Presence Optimization (WPO) Guides and Insights

The New Breed of B2B Buyer by Chaotic Flow

Joel YorkJoel York argues that “A new breed of B2B buyer has arisen, a species that is more connected, more impatient, more elusive, more impulsive, and more informed than its pre-millennium ancestors,” and that marketers need to understand how the B2B buying cycle has changed and adapt to the “new B2B buyer rules of engagement” across several traits including impatience (by making content easy to find in a self-service manner).

Inbound Marketing: Unlock the content from your emails and social marketing by MarketingSherpa Blog

Adam T. SuttonObserving that email marketing efforts often produce “a mountain of content, but little of it gets used for marketing,” Adam T. Sutton shares tips from Chris Baggott on turning email content into optimizable content, such as publishing customer service answer emails as blog posts: “Sales and service teams write thousands of emails to answer customers’ questions…The answers to these questions are extremely specific to each customer’s situation. If published, they’re potentially valuable for long-tail (low volume, highly qualified) search traffic. What is the best parka for sub-zero temperatures? That sounds like a Google search to me.”

We’re Looking In The Wrong Place For Our Attribution Models by MediaPost Search Insider

Gord HotchkissGord Hotchkiss explores John Yi’s concept of Pinball Marketing: “The new game of marketing is much more like pinball. The intersections between a buyer’s decision path and a product’s marketing presence are many, and each can send the buyer off in a different direction. Some of those intersection points are within the marketer’s control — and some aren’t.” WPO is about increasing the number of those intersection points and having as many of them as possible within the marketer’s influence, if not actual control.

Likelihood to Click by The Daily Numbers

David EricksonDavid Erickson reports on recent research showing that “48% (of searchers) are likely to click if a brand shows up multiple times within a set of search results.” That figure seems low, but even if accurate, it makes a strong case for WPO activities designed to get a brand to show up multiple times, high in the search results, for core key phrases.

What Wins In Google Universal Search? Videos, Images & Google! by Search Engine Land

Barry SchwatrzBarry Schwartz reveals that in Google Universal Search results, “videos are by far the most found results in Google, with image content a distant second,” while maps, blogs and news also rank highly—another reason companies need to utilize a diverse set of tactics in order to maximize their exposure near the top of search results.

Get Found: Stop Doing SEO, Start Doing WPO by iMedia Connection
***** 5 STARS

Krista LaRiviereKrista LaRiviere of web presence optimization software firm gShift Labs quotes a client who told her that “once his marketing team started focusing on the company’s entire web presence (not just the website), organic search traffic increased, leads increased and business increased. His team noticed a significant difference within a three-month time period,” then provides a helpful six-step process for getting started with WPO.

6 SEO Jedi Tactics to Try Before Turning to the Dark Side by Search Engine Watch

Angie SchottmullerThe brilliant and always entertaining Angie Schottmuller uses a Star Wars analogy to argue for the benefits of white hat over black hat SEO, but several of her six “SEO Jedi” tactics apply to WPO, including universal search optimization (“Leverage the diversity of Google universal search results mixed with videos, images, shopping, books, maps (local), and news…video and image formats dominate Google mixed results, yet few sites actually apply SEO to these assets…Surround on-page images or videos with relevant textual content to help search engines better understand the asset and in-turn boost the relevance of the page as well”), clever link bait, and social media optimization.

How to cure your SEO blindness by iMedia Connection

Alan BushAlan Bush writes that “The SEO process is multi-faceted and detailed, requiring coordination between client and agency, as well as among many departments such as marketing, IT, and more”—which is true, although the model he presents here is closer to WPO than pure SEO, incorporating as it does (in addition to traditional aspects of SEO like keyword research, competitor analysis and link building) social marketing, blogging, news releases and online articles.

SEO, Social Media and WPO

7 ways to make SMO work in the post-Google age by iMedia Connection

Ben ElowitzContending that “The days of search engine optimization (SEO) as a critical audience-driving strategy for digital publishers are numbered. Forward-looking marketers need to educate themselves about a far more meaningful and effective way of bringing audiences to media destinations—social media optimization (SMO),” Ben Elowitz makes some excellent points (content is again becoming more important than technology) and provides some helpful guidance for driving more traffic through sites like Facebook and Twitter. But the truth of course is that SEO and SMO are both important and need to be practiced as part of a WPO strategy.

From SEO To Social Media, Getting All Channels To Drive Traffic by MediaPost Search Insider

Derek GordonDerek Gordon notes that “From newsletters to advertising, PR to social media, it’s no secret that a good marketing strategy leverages every available channel to drive traffic to Web sites…And all it really takes is (an) old mantra: work together,” and supplies some excellent tips for what is, effectively, WPO.

The Fabulous Collision of Search and Social by Social Media Today

Rohn Jay MillerRohn Jay Miller offers keen insights into what he terms the “collision between social networks and search engines,” writing that social networks are remixing search in three key ways: through social content evaluation (“If a lot of people on Twitter like Bill Bob Thornton’s grilled chicken marinade, the link to his Website will move up in the SERPs”), social content results (browsing social updates or viewing user-generated content served up in Google results) and social network search (searching within Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter instead of using a traditional web search engine).

5 reasons why social media is good for SEO by Success Works

Stacey AceveroThe delightful Stacey Acevero contends that “what most (marketing and PR professionals) don’t realize is that social media is in fact great for SEO and can help boost your search engine rankings,” then explains how this connection works, e.g., “Social media encourages the sharing of multimedia, and multimedia is shown to increase time on page. PRWeb did a study which concluded that including multimedia in news releases increases time on page by an average of about 30 seconds. Imagine what that could do for your blog and social media posts.”

Optimizing Social For SEO: A Three-Step Beginner’s Guide by MediaPost Search Insider

Janet Driscoll MillerFrequent best-of honoree Janet Driscoll Miller lays out a three-stage process for making social and SEO work together, starting with claiming your company profile on the major social networks (at least Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare and YouTube) and then connecting those accounts through a Google profile.

Social Content Seeding for SEO by Search Engine Watch

Guillaume BouchardPointing out that as the major search engines have incorporated social signals into their rankings, “now you need more than just backlinks to rank. You also need tweets, likes, and other ‘votes’ from social users to let search engines know that your brand is relevant,” Guillaume Bouchard explains how to produce content that is “shareable” (e.g., because it is unique, inspirational or entertaining) and encourage sharing on networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Online Reputation Management and WPO

6 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation by Content Marketing Institute

C.B. WhittemoreCB Whittemore points out that “Using digital and social tools leads to more links to your website, better quality visits  and more indexing,” and offers half a dozen helpful tips for online reputation management, such as “Your goal is to ‘own’ as many first page search results as possible (yep, that’s pretty much the definition of web presence optimization) for your name and/or your company’s name with content you’ve created or positively influenced…Complete and robust social profiles allow you to own more of those page one results. Claim your profiles (on sites like LinkedIn, Google+, SlideShare, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter) and make sure they consistently describe you and your company.”

Online Sentiment and Link Building by Search Engine Journal

Julie JoyceJulie Joyce identifies six social networks where every business should at least have a profile (note though that these are oriented towards local, consumer businesses; Google+ and YouTube are more important for B2B firms than are Google Places, Bing Local or Foursquare) and outlines a process for tracking and responding social content and product reviews to avoid making a negative first impression in search.

Me, Myself and I: Helping to manage your identity on the web by Google Public Policy Blog

Andreas Tuerk explains how Google has attempted to “make it easier to monitor your identity on the web and to provide easy access to resources describing ways to control what information is on the web,” since your “online identity” is shaped not only by your postings but also by tagging and what others write about you.

HOW TO: Manage Your Online Reputation Using SEO by Mashable

Sarah KesslerReporting that “Of the almost 80% of U.S. hiring managers who had searched for candidates online, 70% of them said they had rejected a candidate based on what they found in his or her search results,” Sarah Kessler provides a four-step process for improving the results of those searches, such as posting positive content: “Profiles on social networks are powerful tools for this purpose, as results from large sites like Facebook and Twitter often carry more SEO power than a single post on something like a personal blog.”

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Web Presence Optimization, Reloaded

Monday, July 25th, 2011

As online strategy increasingly is business strategy, web presence optimization (dominating the search results for your name and unique tagline) is now more important than ever. So I figured it was time to update my inaugural post on this blog, What is Webbiquity? How to Be Everywhere Online based on four questions that often come up:

  • • Why is web presence optimization important?
  • • Where do I start?
  • • Do I have to do everything?
  • • How does business reputation management differ from personal reputation management?

Here once again,  for visual types, is web presence optimization in picture form.

Web Presence Optimization Diagram

 

Why is web presence optimization important?

Because more than 80% of consumer purchases and 90% of b2b buying cycles now begin with search. If your potential customers can’t find you, they can’t buy from you. Conversely, the more your name dominates for relevant searches, the more likely prospects are to buy from you, because you look like the expert, the “big dog” in the industry (even if you’re really only a small dog).

Also, keep in mind that search is no longer just Google. The second and third largest “search engines,” based on volume of searches, aren’t search engines at all: YouTube and Facebook. If you’re not there, searchers aren’t finding you there.

And finally, your website and blog are no longer the only places that buyers may find you. Social media, online PR and user-generated content sites open up a new world of places to be “found.”

Where do I start with web presence optimization?

As in most things—with the basics. Make sure your website is search optimized by following established SEO design principles (and avoiding common SEO mistakes).

If you don’t have a blog already, start one. It’s not only great for search, but showcases your (or your company’s) expertise, helps humanize your company (blogs are more informal and less promotional than corporate websites), and encourages reader interaction.

From there, make sure that your presence is search-optimized on the “big four” social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Don’t just “be there;” make sure your profiles and content reflect a consistent brand message and value proposition. And that you are interacting with your networks on those platforms.

Spread your profile around (more places to be found!). See the reputation management question below.

Promote your content (though not only your content, but other content your readers/followers/fans may be interested in) on popular social bookmarking sites like Digg, delicious, Reddit and StumbleUpon.

Then you can move on to whichever more advanced tactics are relevant to your business.

Do I have to use all of the elements of web presence optimization?

No, not all of these tactics make sense for every individual or business. For example, small service businesses typically don’t get a lot of media coverage, so a social PR effort doesn’t make a lot of sense. Microsites are advisable only if they don’t dilute the search authority of the main business website. Search marketing isn’t for everyone (though it works well for many businesses, increases your “domination” of page one in search, and is worth a trial for almost any business that can drive some type of conversion—either a lead or a direct sale—from it).

The diagram above is meant to be comprehensive, to show all of the tactics that can be employed. Do what makes sense for you or your business, based on your strategy, time and resources.

How does business reputation management differ from personal reputation management?

For businesses, it’s important to have a presence in key high-end directories, such as CompanyPond, LookupPage, Hotfrog, and AboutUs.org. Crunchbase is an important place for any technology-related company to have a profile. Businesses that primarily serve a specific geographic area will want to have a complete and up-to-date profile in key local directories including Google, Bing and Yahoo! (through getlisted.org) as well as YellowPages.com, Local.com and Brownbook.net.

Individuals can expand their online presence through sites like VisualCV, their Google profile, Naymz, Netlog, Retaggr and BusinessCard2.

Smart companies will take advantage of both corporate and personal reputation management for their key people by using both types of sites, linking to the corporate website and blog from individual profiles on LinkedIn and other sites, and using tools like Workface which help promote a company through its people and humanize the business.

For a comprehensive list of profile sites, check out KnowEm.com.

Web presence optimization takes time and effort, but owning your key phrases in search maximizes your chances to be found when your buyers are looking for what you have to offer.

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Enterprise Social Media and Personal Branding

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Personal branding is a hot topic for entrepreneurs and solo consultants, but does it matter to large enterprises? Oh yeah.

Consultants and small business owners get the concept of personal branding, because in one-person or very small companies, one person is the “corporate” brand. Having optimized profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as well as personal profile / reputation management sites like Google Profile, Plaxo, LookupPage, VisualCV, PeoplePond and BusinessCard2 is crucial to optimizing one’s business online presence.

Social media is an individual thing, even in big corporationsBut isn’t it different in large enterprises where there’s already a strong corporate brand associated with high quality, great value, outstanding service, prestige or some other positive attribute? Not at all. That brand image matters little in social media. If anything, personal branding for key public- and customer-facing individuals is even more important in big businesses than in small firms or one-person shops.

First, if you want to talk to the “CEO” of your local bakery or neighborhood bar, you can likely just walk in and often find him or her on the premises. You can’t do that with executives at GE, IBM, Ford, etc.

Second, “social” media is by definition a person-to-person (or person to many persons) activity. You can have a conversation with a person, or participate in a conversation in a group of people, but you can’t talk to a “company,” which is merely a soulless, bodiless legal entity.

Third, while you can certainly buy many types of products from companies (e.g. books from Amazon, coffee from Starbucks, electronics from Best Buy), there are many products and services that purchased from individuals, even though there may be large company behind them. If you refinance your home, you work with a mortgage banker—an individual—even though that person may work for a large bank. Insurance is typically provided by large companies, but sold by individual agents. Ditto for other financial services, legal services, cars, motorcycles, heavy machinery, exotic travel, some types of luxury goods… You purchase something supplied by a company, possibly a very large company, but you buy from an individual person.

In that sense, the individual’s personal brand becomes, to you, the corporate brand. Your experience with that individual, good or bad, influences, often strongly, your perception of the corporate brand.

So, big companies have an interest in making those individual interactions as positive as possible. It’s essential to hire good people, of course, but it goes beyond that. Often, a bad experience isn’t the result of a having a bad agent, broker, salesperson, customer service rep or consultant, but rather from a mismatch between the individual buyer and seller. The transaction is more likely to be positive if the connection is appropriate based on geography, area of expertise, hobbies or other factors, possibly even age (e.g. a couple nearing retirement may prefer not to work with a twenty-something financial planner).

How is this achieved? Through personal branding. It’s easy to investigate companies and product attributes online, without ever giving up your contact information. Why shouldn’t you to be able to “shop” for the individual you’ll eventually buy from or work with as well? You should, of course. And smart companies, big or small, who recognize that in a social media world, their people are their differentiation, will find ways to capitalize on personal branding.  Read more about this in Why Personal Branding Matters to Big Companies, my guest post on the Workface blog.

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