Do you worry about your online reputation? You believe your online reputation does not affect your offline reputation? You are victim of Rip off Reports or bad comments by your competitors or people who threaten? If you do not address online reputation management, bad reviews can threaten your business.
Your “internet footprint” is basically the entire collection of Web pages that include any mention of your name or your contributions and the traceable residue left behind for all to see. It can be your greatest asset, or left unattended, it could also impact your livelihood. For purposes of building a profitable and loyal clientele, and for keeping your good reputation intact, an online presence is not just essential, it is imperative.
Whether we like it or not, in today’s digitally connected world we are judged largely by our online presence, or lack thereof. Studies have clearly shown that the vast majority of Web users make judgments about the credibility and quality of a business on the basis of the appearance of its website. And they don’t waste any time in coming to such ‘snap’ judgements – researchers have found that the average length of time it takes a Web user to form that crucial first impression is under 1 second.
Online reputation management is at a minimum all about establishing trust and credibility, two requirements that are foremost in the minds of consumers in search of professional services. Web users have come to equate trust with transparency, which, as a result of the Web, allows for a clear view into a practice. The more transparent the practice makes itself on its website with practice and people profiles, description of services, interactive opportunities, and client portals, the more trust people initially feel. Visitors look for credibility in the way the practice exerts its expertise, reputation, and authority through its blog, its published news articles, and its interaction with social media such as Facebook.
In today’s world, even a company that does business fairly and provides excellent customer service can find its online reputation tarnished by a single disgruntled customer. Such is the power of the Internet. When this happens, savvy companies work to repair online reputations by re-engineering search results and deploying aggressive search engine optimization techniques.
Online reputation will affect your business:
The customer is always right. This approach helps companies diffuse unhappy customers and retain a positive reputation in the marketplace. What happens, though, when an unhappy customer airs his grievances with a company online? Often, the customer does not relay relevant details or include the company’s efforts to make things right. His consumer reviews unfairly paint the company in an unflattering light, and those negative reviews make their way to the top of search results for the company’s name. A company in this situation must regain control of its online image by re-engineering search results and utilizing aggressive search engine optimization methods.
An online reputation management plan includes a multi-pronged approach: 1) Identification of existing positive information about the company online; 2) creation of additional positive information in the form of websites, blogs, press releases, reviews and social media profiles; 3) aggressive search engine optimization techniques to push the positive information to the top of search results for the company’s name and/or targeted keywords. The result: Negative information falls to the second and third pages – and beyond – of search results. Studies show that only about 3 percent of search engine users click on the last result on the first page, so imagine how few users make it to the second or third pages of search results.
Other tactics for managing online reputation:
The best way to counter or bury anything potentially harmful that may be said or inferred about you on the web is to build your own online real estate. As soon as you establish yourself you are building an online fortress that deflects against the less than favorable bits of information getting through and visible to your audience. Now, when anyone “Googles” your practice it is your website (or Facebook page, or Linkedin profile) that will appear, not that negative remark floating around cyberspace simply because it was the only reference to you on the web.
Creating an online presence has never been easier, and neither has the ability for someone to dismantle your reputation or brand. If you are not actively monitoring and managing your practice online you won’t know what people are saying about you – good or bad. A simple complaint or an off-color mention can wreak havoc on your reputation, which is among a company’s greatest assets.
Similarly, it is important to know when people are singing your practice’s praises and giving your practice favorable reviews. Through proactively managing your online brand and reputation, you will not only be able to address any negative comments, you can also help generate more positive community buzz about your practice.
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