Digital intelligence is comprised of several different tactics dealing with your brand’s online presence and reputation. Many of them you may recognize as buzzword acronyms - SEO, SEM, PPC. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen incredible results in increased website traffic, lead generation, and organic keyword ranking solely from digital intelligence efforts.
One tactic that is often forgotten or unknown, but is actually the most important, is online reputation management.
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is exactly what it sounds like. Just like a person builds his or her reputation through professional experience, personal friendships, social media, media associations, or common shows of character, the same ideas apply to a company’s reputation. And the reputation your company builds will ultimately determine whether you win or lose new customers online. A company’s online reputation is typically formulated with several different components:
- Website integrity
- News mentions
- Social media
- Email addresses
- *Anything linked to or even similar to your company’s name
With over 80% of consumers consulting the internet before making a large purchase decision, your company’s online reputation is an increasingly important factor in lead generation. So how do you make sure your first impression online is a good one? Here are 5 simple ways you can start improving your business’s online reputation right now:
1. Monitor reddit and HackerNews
Monitor reddit and HackerNews for mentions about your name, employees’ names, company name or brand/product. Reddit is the 5th most popular website in the U.S., and HackerNews is commonly referred to for any online security breaches or major company events affecting the public.
You can monitor these platforms manually or by using one of the automated systems below:
Tracking these platforms allows you to control the discussion about your brand and pro-actively join the conversation. Before jumping into any discussion related to your brand or product, it’s important to establish a communications response plan. This plan can be as simple or complex as your company needs, and its ultimate purpose is to equip your team with an appropriate and effective response to any chatter online. Here’s an example outline for each option to get you started:
|Minimal Communications Response Plan||Full Communications Response Plan|
While you’re creating your response guidelines, it’s equally important to research how to best communicate with users on each platform. For example, you could get caught in a downvote spiral on Reddit if you don’t craft your messages specifically for the channel, a.k.a. using the appropriate “reddiquette.”
2. Claim your Google My Business profile.
Claiming your listing will give you authority to control your company information, images, location, and any other information your potential customers need to know.
Here’s an example of our Google My Business profile:
Most importantly, it allows you to receive a notification for each new review so you can view and respond to it according to your communications response plan.
Think about the last time you bought something on Amazon. Did you glance at the rating or read any reviews before making the decision to buy? (We hope so!) Customers online follow the same process when researching your company or product.
Positive reviews influence new potential customers, and even negative reviews present an opportunity for your business to stand out. Negative reviews allow you to publicly make a poor experience a better one, offer a solution, and show the human side of your brand. Sometimes your reviews aren’t for the person you’re responding to but for the potential customers and greater audience who may see it later.
Taking control of your reviews allows you to write your own narrative and make that first impression count.
Here are a few links to help you get started:
1. Claim your business listing.
2. Verify your business listing.
3. Setup a Google Alert on your name and business name.
This alert will email you any time Google finds a news article, forum post, or website mentions your brand. It's best to know about these situations as soon as possible in case it attracts negative media attention you need to control or positive media you should take advantage of.
Set up Google Alerts using Google’s easy type and add system.
For Google Alert beginners, here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Google Alerts.
- Create alerts for common misspellings of your search term
- If you only want alerts for a specific phrase or name, use quotation marks to signify an exact multi-word search term
- Don’t track only your company. Create alerts for your competitors or industry terms that you could monitor for opportunities and threats.
For more advanced SEO wizards, here’s one of our favorite tutorials by Ahrefs.
4. Register the .net and .org variants of your domain name.
You may already own YourCompanyName.com, but the .net and .org variants may still be available. Someone could register them at any time and create a website bashing your company or brand, or it could be a legitimate company that begins competing for your company’s SEO. In the latter scenario, there is always the risk that potential customers confuse negative news or scams concerning the new or fake company with your company.
To avoid this altogether, register all possible domains related to your company (and personal name, if you’re an executive.). It's an inexpensive risk-management move, typically only costing around $10/year per domain, and it will save you a potential loss in revenue due to circumstances you cannot control.
How to Register a Domain Name for Your Website - pcmag.com
Here are some popular domain registrars to help you find and register your domains at the budget and capacity you need.
5. Keep your email accounts in check with the HaveIBeenPwned database.
Periodically search for your main personal email address and company email addresses through the HaveIBeenPwned database. If you find any successful hits, make sure you update the password for those email addresses or delete the accounts entirely. Password reuse combined with constant database leaks could lead to an attacker leaking your own company’s sensitive information or databases.
Tips for keeping your email accounts secure:
- Use strong passwords with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.
- Update passwords often.
- Don’t use the same password across multiple accounts.
- (We know what you’re thinking - How am I going to keep up with all these complex, changing passwords?) Use a password manager to securely create and store your passwords. Here are PC Mag’s top 10 for 2019.
If we could leave you with one last piece of advice, it would be to take your time. There’s no need to rush these 5 steps, and understanding each one will benefit you and your company more in the long-run. SEO and reputation management are long-term strategies that produce even longer lasting results.
Producing visible results is something our digital intelligence team excels in. If you’re interested in improving your company’s online reputation, your initial audit and consultation is on us. Click the button below to contact us and get started.