When you Google yourself, or your business what do you see? Are you being represented fairly? Or not? Do you need to take control of what people see when they search for you online?
Online reputation management (ORM) puts you in control of what people see when they search for you online. Which is very important.
While you’ll have control of your website, blog, Twitter or Facebook page, it’s likely you’ll find other information or comment that you have no control over. Some of it you won’t have contributed to, or you might not want it to be publicly visible.
The reality, in this day and digital age, is that search engines show people everything that’s being said about you online. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Which is why so many people are asking: what is online reputation management? And those in the know are talking about the importance and value of it.
What does online reputation mean?
Online reputation is the reputation of a company, person, product or service on the Internet. This is influenced and impacted by what’s visible to people when they search for someone or something online, and their reactions to it and interactions with it.
These search results/links are collectively known as online content, which takes many forms. It could be your website, blogs, social media, images, videos, adverts, online PR, news or press coverage, business or personal directory listings, reviews and forum comments.
All of this information amounts to your online reputation, which is very important because it affects your credibility, visibility, and influence. As well as people’s trust in you, your company and its products and services.
So, it’s important for individuals and businesses to build and maintain a positive online reputation. If people are saying bad things about you or your company, it can harm your personal goals and your business objectives. If people are saying positive things, it helps your personal goals and business objectives.
Which leads us to the next question of what is online reputation management?
What is online reputation management?
A question that’s asked a lot is what is online reputation management? And the answer is that online reputation management (ORM) is the professional practice of developing and executing strategies and techniques that influence and control a reputation online. This reputation can be a person’s, a company’s or its products and services.
Online reputation management helps to drive positive public opinion about the individual or company on the Internet.
There are many misconceptions about online reputation management. Which is why when people are asked the question of ‘what is online reputation management?’ some people will think it’s simply about search engine optimisation (SEO), others believe it is social media activity and monitoring, or something to do with public relations. Perhaps they don’t realise how their online reputation can impact trust, credibility, sales, and growth.
Online reputation management uses techniques, tools, data, and strategies to create, promote and share positive content, links, comment, and activity about an individual, business, brand or products and services online. This includes the content a person or company distributes itself, such as its website, social media profiles and activity. Or it could be news/press articles, reviews, forum discussions or 3rd party links. Even influencer opinion, customer and stakeholder interactions, employee profiles, comment and any other information, activity or conversations about it. Every action will be search engine optimised (SEO) to increase its ranking.
Online reputation management also involves countering, weakening or eliminating the negative material found on the Internet. At the same time as promoting the positive to improve your online reputation, credibility, trust, interactions, and sales.
Why do I need online reputation management?
An online reputation management strategy will monitor, identify and influence your online reputation. It’s essential for any business. Because growing competition and a lack of trust can have a serious impact on people’s decision-making. If you don’t have a positive reputation people will look elsewhere to those that do.
Earning and keeping people’s trust is key to your long-term success. And is at the heart of a reputation management strategy.
We live in a world where word of mouth is still the most powerful form of recommendation. So, if people have a negative or positive experience, they’ll discuss it with friends and family or go online to share their experiences through social media and review sites. Opinions spread fast online and readily influence opinion.
93% of people now say that online reviews impact their buying decisions. 1 negative can cost you 22% of potential customers and 4 or more negatives found online could cost your business 70% of potential future customers.
On top of this, 1 in 7 companies has lost up to £50,000, due to negative online reviews and content. And 1 in 20 more than £500,000. Today’s online culture is ubiquitous, and so online reputation management is vital to your success.
What are the benefits of online reputation management?
The benefits of a positive online reputation include higher visibility online, trust, credibility, and profit. You’ll also attract better talent and there’s less risk of reputation damage if you do face a crisis.
Companies with good reputations online are also treated better during a reputation crisis – often given a second chance to fix mistakes.
Brands with a good online reputation earn more trust. If people trust a company, product, service or a person, other people are more likely to share that sentiment.
Research shows that 90% of people only look at the first page of search engine results to form their impression. 64% of people trust online search engines the most when they’re conducting research on a business and 85% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Personal recommendations are so important that 83% of people surveyed in 60 countries say they trust recommendations of friends and family.
Companies with positive online reviews attract more business. Every 1* increase in Yelp rating means a 5 to 9% increase in revenue. And 68% of consumers also say they are actually willing to pay up to 15% more for the same product or service if they are assured they will have a better experience. Never underestimate how much customer experience matters.
Attract better talent
People want to work for companies with a good reputation and that share the same values and beliefs they do. They trust what current and past employees say about a company and want to work for places that are visible, current, relevant and engaging online. 69% of job seekers are likely to reject a job offer from a company with a bad reputation.
If you build and maintain a positive reputation there’s less risk involved if you suffer a crisis. Chances are that due to the positive sentiment and trust built, you’ll even bounce back quicker. You can also save a damaged reputation a lot easier with a good solid base to work from than nothing at all.
Visibility and credibility
A strong and managed online reputation ensures that you give people a good first impression. This highlights your strengths and counters any negatives. You’ll also find that there’s a higher chance of conversion and returns. Businesses with a good online reputation establish themselves as an industry thought leader and elevate themselves above the competition.
What does an online reputation management company do?
The best online reputation management companies fix negative search results and build positive online reputations. They use tried and tested strategies, tactics, tools and best practice techniques to improve your online reputation.
You’ll find lots of public relations companies and search engine optimisation agencies claiming to be online reputation management companies. Most of them are not as it’s not their sole area of expertise. Some reputation management practices are unethical and can land you in more trouble than they actually solve. Reputation experts know the difference.
An expert online reputation management company works on fixing negative search results and building a positive online reputation for you. They will monitor your online reputation and flex their strategy according to changes in online sentiment. And, let’s not forget, changes to algorithms that affect your search results. A good online reputation management company will provide custom reputation solutions. Their teams will have strong technical, content management, marketing and customer experience backgrounds.
So, what is online reputation management?
It’s all of the above and is your key to success in a crowded, competitive online space.
Google search results are the new business card. Which is why online reputation management matters.
Head of Content at Igniyte – The Reputation Experts
Fiona is our resident content expert and award-winning business writer. She’s passionate about creating content strategies that influence and change opinions and behaviours. She regularly blogs about the latest online reputation headlines and best practice online reputation management for businesses, brands and individuals.