We live in a search-happy world. Take it as a given: Before customers consider doing business with your company, they’re going to Google it first.
The following five online reputation management practices will help you shape your brand’s search results by boosting its credibility online.
1. Keep your company’s website up to date
Your website is the first place people go when researching your business, so make sure you leave a strong first impression.
Once the basics -- such as a landing page, contact information and service or product offerings -- are taken care of, you can add extra features.
A bio page is a good place to start. People want to work with a company that isn’t afraid to show off its team. Writing strong bios for your employees is a great way to introduce the people building your company while also humanizing your brand. A strong bio includes the person’s name, profession, area of expertise and past experiences. Be sure to add major career highlights, awards or any other notable accomplishments. Lastly, provide space for hobbies and interests, which gives consumers a fuller picture of you, your employees and by extension, your company.
By keeping your website up to date and providing an extensive bio page, you can help legitimize your company.
2. Create a company blog
A company blog can do more than just increase your visibility in search engines; it can also drive traffic to your site and is a good way to build relationships with your customers. But perhaps most importantly, a company blog can position your team as an industry leader. For instance if your head of marketing is continuously providing insights into the latest industry trends, that provides your company with both authority and exposure.
3. Manage online reviews
Considering that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, showcasing your customers experiences on your website is a great way to create positive expectations right off the bat. In addition, having a large number of positive reviews helps balance out any negative reviews that may pop up in the future.
The best way to get more positive reviews for your business is to treat your customers with respect on and offline -- it will be reflected in the online feedback. In addition, make sure it’s easy for people to write a review on your website, and advertise the fact that you would like to hear from your customers. Consider putting a call to action in your email signature, on your website or even on a sign in your store’s window.
4. Socialize relevant company content
Not only do popular social-media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter rank highly in search results, but they’re great places to push out company news and content. If you’re doing something newsworthy, make sure your customers know about it! Sharing recent press, upcoming events or notable company announcements over social media is a great way to illustrate that your company is active and relevant.
Bottom line: The more social media sites your company is on, the more of its search results you control.
5. Don’t ignore your personal brand
If you develop your personal brand the same way you develop your company’s brand, you’ll have even more visibility and influence over your business’s search results. In many cases, especially when your business is still starting up, your name will be Googled more than your company’s name. It’s important, then, for potential investors, clients and employees to find a positive representation of you online. Your online reputation can be the thing that makes or breaks your business.
Entreprenure Magazine Contributor
CEO and co-founder, BrandYourself.com