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Many people think that online reputation management is all about maintaining FB pages and Twitter handles. Yes, social media plays an important part in building a reputation but there is much more to it. Word of mouth spreads faster through the internet compared to the real world and so you must be able to spot and respond to any negative content about you before they get to spread.
Online reputation management is basically about strong monitoring. You need to be constantly on the lookout for any potentially damaging mention about you or your brand. It may be an innocuous tweet complaining about your service or a full-fledged negative review of the same in some website. The importance of online reputation management for your business lies in the fact that all such comments remain in public domain and can always be seen by scores of other people. So, negative criticism directly threatens your reputation but apt handling of the same may also enhance your image.
The most important part of reputation management is about responding to criticism. Sometimes even the smartest people lose their cool when they face harsh criticism. However, it must be realized that losing one’s temper is going to make the matter worse. The first step should involve a thorough process to ascertain the veracity of the complaint. If it is found out to be true then it should be properly addressed and there should be no hesitation in apologizing to the aggrieved customer. Even if the complaint turns out to be unfounded, it can be politely pointed out instead of rebutting it aggressively.
However, the bigger challenge to online reputation now comes from the search engines. Whenever someone posts anything online, it gets indexed and ranked by search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. So, if they happen to post the same in a high ranking website, they might even rank higher than the official website of the business being criticized. Just imagine the state of reputation for a business when somebody searches its name and the first result turns out to be a negative review.
This is exactly where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in. In order to avoid the situation mentioned above it is necessary to take control of the search engine ranking pages. The brand name of the business should be considered as a keyword and it should be optimized aggressively as well as proactively so that it appears at the top of the search every time someone searches the name.
While it is simple in principle, achieving top rankings on search engines is not an easy task. For instance, suppose there is a new hotel with a new website with minimal content and no reputation. Now, if the hotel receives a very negative review in Trip Advisor, it can overtake the official website in rankings because Trip Advisor is a much bigger and reputed website. It takes a dedicated SEO team to take care of such instances and ensure the desired ranking and that is why every business should find dedicated service providers to take care of such needs.