Considering the potential impact online reputation has on any corporate ‘bottom line’, this week Igniyte shares its ‘top ten tips for company reputation management‘.
The Value of Corporate Reputation
Deloitte’s 2014 Global Survey on Reputation Risk recently revealed that a company can directly attribute 25% of its market value to its reputation. As such it is not surprising that 87% of company executives surveyed by Deloitte see reputation as more important than any other risk facing their firm.
Meanwhile the same survey revealed that while 88% of businesses surveyed are actively taking steps to manage reputation risk, only 47% feel comfortable dealing with reputation risks posed by third parties.
How Does a Third Party Pose a Risk to Company Reputation Online?
Third party intervention can pose a significant problem to the reputation of a company online. The advancement of digital technology means that anyone can go online and post unwanted content about a business – posing a significant threat to company reputation. The content they post has the potential to register on the first page of the Google search rankings for the company in question.
According to Search Engine Watch, a survey by the online ad network Chitika demonstrates that the first page of Google rankings receives 92% of all search traffic. Therefore any content listed on page one search results is likely to be seen by a lot of people. Data from Search Engine Land meanwhile shows that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This illustrates that a review, which damages a company’s online reputation, will most likely damage the company’s bottom line.
Ten Tips for Effective Company Reputation Management
Any company operating in an online environment should take steps to protect its reputation online. Use the following top ten tips to facilitate effective company reputation management:
- Create Online Assets: Prevent unwanted content appearing about your company in the rankings, by ‘owning’ the first page of Google for your key search terms. Create and maintain a company website or websites; develop a range of social and professional media profiles on sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube; produce a blog, or blogs, on sites such as WordPress and Blogspot.
- Optimise Assets Effectively: Your website and online profiles will prove more effective in safeguarding the first page on your Google rankings if you include your company name (or keyword) in the URL, and in the content itself. Thus, when someone types your company name or chosen keywords into a search engine, any websites and profiles you own will be more likely to appear in the search results.
- Create Natural, Relevant Content: Google rewards websites and online profiles that feature relevant content, and articles that include the main search terms associated with your company. You should not ‘thread’ your company name throughout your website and online profiles regardless. This practice, known as ‘key word stuffing’, is frowned upon by Google. To protect your company reputation online, produce content that is likely to appeal to your target audience, and lets you feature your company name naturally. For example, if you’re a ‘chocolatier’ post interesting images of ‘amazingly edible confectionaries’ on your Facebook profile, or blog about ‘the ten most unusual chocolate recipes in the world’ on your WordPress site.
- Update Assets Regularly: Follow the previous tip and your website, profiles and blogs will soon register on the first page of the Google rankings for your company name. Yet to ensure your profiles continue to rank, they require a fresh, regular input of content. Posting content frequently, and consistently, will not only support you to engage with your audience better and build a following, but will help your profile to be seen online.
- Follow Best Practise: Produce content that will support your websites and online profiles to rank on the first page of Google for your key search terms. The articles you produce should be easy to read, concise and relevant. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and use uncomplicated language, where one word will do – rather than three – then follow this rule. Make use of subtitles, bullets, bold font, and images to break down long passages – and remember these are all useful tools to help optimise your content.
- Generate PR Opportunities: Another useful way to make sure you ‘own’ the first page of the Google rankings for your company name, is to promote news and articles about your business in local and regional press. News sites prove particularly authoritative on Google, so generate PR opportunities of interest, for example launch a campaign for a charity; announce a new appointment; promote a new deal, or partnership.
- Monitor Your Name: Protecting your company’s reputation online not only requires you to ‘own’ the first page on Google for your company name, but also to monitor what is being said online about your company. Monitoring your reputation will alert you to any problems before they explode. Set up Google Alerts for your company name (along with common misspellings of your company name) so that any mentions are brought to your attention. By doing so you will be better placed to deal, or even avert, a reputation crisis, should the need arise.
- Own All Assets: Try to own all assets for your company’s search terms, even if you do not necessarily plan to use them immediately. By doing so you will strengthening the control you have over any websites and online profiles, and limiting the amount of content others are able to publish.
- Be Proactive: When it comes to protecting your company’s online reputation, it is vitally important to be proactive. Building, maintaining and promoting a strong online presence for your company, will ensure your business is found by a relevant audience. It will help you to attract a following, and enable you to publicise your strengths. A healthy online profile will also place you in a better position should you need to deal with any reputational issues or damage that may arise.
- Cultivate Effective Customer Service: Companies dealing directly with the general public are always at risk of complaints or ‘unwanted’ comments being posted online in forums or discussion groups. How you deal with customer requests or complaints, may mean the difference between a post going viral, and a customer replacing their original ‘poor review’ with something more positive. By responding timely and appropriately to customer complaints, you will help negate any potential problems, and help to strengthen your company’s online reputation.
Protect Your Company’s Reputation
These tips are designed to inspire you to build and maintain a strong online presence for your business. By managing your company’s reputation in a thoughtful and carefully planned way, and by being proactive with content and related marketing strategies, you will reduce the risk that third parties may potentially pose to your business online.