Why Online Reputation Management is Important for every Business
Whether your company is a corporate brand, a personal brand or an established enterprise level brand, online reputation management, or ORM, is now more important than ever for your business.
Online reputation management refers to the influencing, controlling and the management of a corporate brand (business) or individual brand’s reputation. Primarily this is done through search engine reputation management, or SERM, with advanced SEO techniques that relate to Google, bing and yahoo search.
According to Mashable, Google receives over 100 billion searches per month. If approximately 3 billion internet users have access to Google, that’s at least 33 searches a month per internet user or more than one Google search per day at very conservative estimates. Half of those searches will be from a mobile device and many of those searches will be in relation to corporate and personal brands.
“According to internetlivestats, the number of internet users is scaling very fast and this means the importance of ORM is on the increase as a greater percentage of the world’s population is online.”
Why ORM is Important
As such, ORM is then a decisive method for a company’s branding, sales, marketing and public relations departments to optimize the top of the sales funnel in relation to the general public. Google search is so central to how we live today and the positive and negative rankings there tells a lot about a brand. ORM is a high ROI strategy for a brand’s profitability when being discovered by consumers and when they are making a key purchasing decision.
So then it is not surprising ORM is gaining in traction as a high ROI activity brands can do to boost their reputation and especially to minimize negative reviews, lower damaging search results and non-optimal content rankings on Google. As 90-95% of the public does not go beyond the first page on Google, how a brand appears and which listings appear first are of high importance for the first impression they make with potential customers.
78% of adults look up info about people or businesses on Google before working with them (Harris Interactive)
Search and search reputation specifically is therefore instrumental in the digital psychology of branding. Online reputation management is what controls this impression to boost the social and knowledge authority, thought leadership and online status of a company, high-net worth individual or influencer brands. ORM is important because it controls the first impression of a brand and makes sure content online is fulfilling its business objective. Repairing negative damage of Google rankings, is the true hacking of SEO and at the heart of what it means to be an online reputation management specialist.
Additionally, online reputation management is important since damage to an online brand can occur relatively quickly and PR issues digitally can happen in the blink of an eye. Therefore, having a strategy in place that is preventative, which monitors and takes action to maintain the reputation of your company or personal brand is of the utmost importance.
Negative reviews, mis-tweets, anonymous trolling, and some content rising faster than desired in the search rankings is normal for today’s busy digital pace of life, however which department is held accountable? Marketing does not always have the reverse SEO and online repair skillset to deal with the issue, nor does branding and PR. The alternative is a boutique agency that specializes in ORM, that has experience in managing your search reputation professionally.
According to statisticbrain, on our planet we make in excess of 6 billion searches a day, that’s nearly one search per person alive on Earth. The public and especially potential customers, zoom in on the negative about your brand, to make sure that there are no deal-breakers, nothing incriminating in terms of values or the DNA of your brand that turns them off.
According to Nielsen, 66% of consumers trust online reviews from strangers. If reviews easily found on Google about your products and your brand are trusted by the majority it’s important they do not damage your brand irreparably thereby decreasing sales. It’s normal to have a balance of positive and negative reviews, but slanderous reviews, having the wrong images associated with your brand and other search engine reputation management (SERM) misfires, hurt your image and reputation.
Consumers won’t find your brand authentic if it’s squeaky clean, with a 5 star rating on Facebook, Yelp and elsewhere with no negative reviews. However, your brand needs to be managed in such a way that your online reputation is congruent with your business objectives. That the right content is appearing first on Google is important to make sure that digital marketing and sales activities are going as smoothly as possible. This is how online reputation management can impact the bottom lines and has a high ROI. Increasingly, business owners, high-net individuals and influencers are recognizing its impact and importance on their brand development.
Strong branding on Google can also boost opportunities for business owners as being more findable relative to their competition in their industry, niche vertical and in relation to their target audience is a high ROI brand objective. Online reputation management is therefore important for its other benefits such as brand exposure to potential business partners, visibility to attract and retain talented employees and the optimism of the internal culture of people surrounding your brand and business. In this day and age, we have to not only be customer centric, but employee centric, and ORM addresses this need as well.
Good online reputation management consists of allowing the positive of your brand to shine in order to maintain a healthy ratio with the negative material and making sure your rank on Google is optimized with this in mind. Your online reputation is your credibility, brand trust and profitability online.
Benefits of Online Reputation Management
Business owners often ask what the benefits of ORM are. The benefits highlight its value and its importance to corporate brands and especially to personal brands that depend on their reputation. For today’s influencers and thought leaders in their respective fields and industries, networking and digital reputation is everything. The benefits of online reputation management can be summarized as follows:
Increased Traffic on Google
An optimized ORM means you are putting your best foot forward on Google and therefore increasing the amount of traffic.
Higher quality of Inbound Lead Generation
An ORM monitored by professionals means the quality of prospects that make it down your sales funnel are more likely to have bought into your value proposition, be high quality and more easily convert.
Increase in Sales & Conversion
An improved ORM leads to a more favourable brand reputation and recognition of quality from customers thereby leading often to higher intent to buy and higher actual sales.
Improve Content & Social Media Strategy
Perhaps most importantly from a sales and marketing perspective, ORM also tells you what kind of content and social strategies are working the best for your industry and your brand’s performance in measurable SEO terms.
With the rise of visual marketing and images on the internet and of video content, ORM is set to take on even greater emphasis on how to optimize content online for search rankings and suppress negative information that may hurt corporate and personal brands.
ORM’s role in Brand Management
With the rise of influencers in marketing circa 2015, online reputation management is an increasingly important strategy to optimize digital reputation touch points to boost credibility, reach and efficacy online.
ORM experts monitor Google’s evolution and the tweaks in algorithms where SEO variables change periodically. With the advent of technologies that will be here soon such as bots that combine the functions of multiple apps, apps that are streamed rather than downloaded and Virtual reality technology, influencers will have new frontiers and ORM’s role will be extended.
Brand management is therefore evolving as quickly as the internet is changing and digital content is adapting. Google search and SEO is so tightly interwoven with a brand’s reach and awareness that business owners are required to stay competitive by taking a four pillared approach to brand development.
- Social Media Strategy
- Content Marketing Strategy
- Visual marketing and Video Strategy
- Online Reputation Management strategy
Today’s brand is highly interactive, highly visual and professionally monitored and boosted for optimal results. Online reputation management is important as part of a brand’s strategy in that it’s the backbone of how the rest of the branding strategy is optimized on a dynamic day to day, month to month basis. ORM is the last defense in a brand’s emergencies and search rankings and can be thought of as a specialized branch of search engine optimization (SEO).
The Importance of the Personal Brand
With Millennial audiences and consumers filtering and consuming content differently, the importance of developing a personal brand has never been more critical and urgent. This is true for CEOs, public figures, influencers but also any ambitious professional that realizes the link between their online personal brand and their success in professional life, in niche networks, with peers, other influencers and in both offline and online business development.
Online reputation management is uniquely qualified to bolster and boost one’s personal brand. Many search queries on Google are actually the names of individuals. YouTube channels of influencers get millions of views, influencers on Instagram get thousands of followers, the rise of the personal brand is characteristic of how digital content is changing.
As Millennials grew up with the internet and social media, young professionals especially are savvy and primed to care about their online personal brand, and for good reason. In the information economy and where content is increasing at exponential rates, standing out online has never been more important.
Online reputation management is important then to any business where publicity is a good thing and where damaging reviews can potentially be harmful. We are increasingly moving towards a world where social authority digitally, has an impact on business credibility. Digital culture is recognizing the value of thought leaders within a corporation as influencer marketing has become more mainstream the corporate culture now has greater visibility online. A blog post on social content networks such as Medium and LinkedIn Pulse can make your company go viral and significantly alter marketing and sales.
ORM is then an additional strategy ambitious Millennials can use to boost their brand online. Google’s 2.3 million searches a second, mean someone could be searching your name right now. The personal brand may also be more salient to Millennials since they seek authentic and user generated content over branded content. Influencer marketing and is therefore one of the fastest growing content distribution techniques to boost your content online. As audiences online crave richer storytelling and a content experience that foster transparency, educational content and actionable insight, the personal brand is becoming central to business every day.
The Hidden Truth
Despite the real dangers of negative reputation events and damaging posts on your brand, many marketing managers, business owners, CEOs and branding specialists remain unprepared and unable to take actions to recover from the incidents in a timely manner. Many even underestimate the danger of their brand’s online reputation going wrong. To avoid the financial damage that a negative PR event can cause, is one of the main reasons every business needs to take online reputation management seriously.
The hidden truth of SEO and brand management is the underestimation of the cost of a poor online reputation. Severe online reputation problems can destroy your brand and lead to your company’s collapse and failure in business, just as a scandal might ruin the career of a celebrity, athlete, politician or other form of high net worth public figure.
The SEO skills required to reverse damage online are closely guarded SEO secrets and while there are many more brand management tools than ever before to monitor reviews and mentions, few companies can adequately and quickly deal with major online PR issues the way an online reputation management firm can. It’s relatively rare to have someone in-house who can handle this need adequately.
The correlation between a brand’s online reputation with its sales is different for each industry and unique to each field, but the link is painfully obvious to those brands who have fallen into disrepute or those personal brands who have fallen out of favor with the mainstream media often caused negative reviews. Information is still a powerful tool and the online reputation of a brand is in constant danger of negative information and bad press.
Many business owners and executives do not even realize the full need of the concern about their reputation online. From your direct competitors in your industry, to unsatisfied customers, to disgruntled former employees, all brands are potential targets for negative reviews online. Less mature corporate and personal brands have not fully optimized the SEO on their content so which content appears first doesn’t aptly highlight the true value proposition of their business.
In the digital world, there are heroes and villains and each day could be the day a brand must face defamatory remarks or have its brand targeted. Online reputation management is the search ranking and Google optimization of your brand online, and is important for every business and every personal brand that desires the best impact of its digital influence on the public and its target audience.