We’re living in a world where first impressions are everything, whether it be online or offline. In the online world, it’s more important than ever because of how much power customers now have to shape your reputation. With online reviews ubiquitous, and the ability to Google your business on mobile in seconds, your brand image might seem impossible to control.

The repercussions of losing control of your business reputation are obviously devastating. If you start receiving too many negative reviews, it could lead to your competitors stealing away your loyal customers. Also, anything negative about you in a Google search is going to form an instant impression.

It’s not impossible to help repair your online reputation. With some proactive steps and some ensuing strategies, you can build more positive impressions. Here’s how to go about it smartly.

Keeping Yourself Monitored on Google

If it sounds weird to Google yourself (and maybe you do with your own name), it’s far more essential to Google your business. Pay particularly close attention to the first two pages of search results.

As Kissmetrics notes about online reputation:

“Treat your Google Page 1 as your business card.”

There isn’t any simpler or more direct statement to make about how Google’s first page becomes your first impression to the world. However, while you’re on Google, scope out what people say about your company on social media.

Because of the real-time aspects of social channels, anything negative about you there could affect your business the same day. You can say the same for places like Yelp, which still holds uncomfortable power in potentially upholding or bringing down businesses in a day.

So what proactive steps should you take to keep Google monitored? It starts with signing up for Google Alerts to stay on top of any negative business reviews each day.

Owning the First Three Pages of Google

To repair your reputation, you’ll want three mostly positive Google pages about your business. To see how important this is, consider what Social Media Examiner says about being ranked first on Google with a positive review:

“…The number-one ranking on Google gets about an 18% click-through rate, and the number-two organic listing gets about 10%.”

What concrete steps can you take to make this happen? It’s time to get your marketing and creative media team together to create a positive reputation strategy. By being proactive, you can change things within mere weeks.

From Optimizing Your Website to Company Profile Pages

A major first step is to optimize, optimize, optimize. Perhaps you don’t typically see “optimize” repeated like that. It’s important to understand the meaning of it and the domino effect.

This starts with proper SEO and using localized keywords in your text and imagery to assure first-page Google ranking. The point is to keep everything about your business on the first page so you can push any negative news or reviews about you under the third page.

As Moz recently pointed out, offline SEO goes a long way as well in optimization and a solid reputation.

Here are some other proactive tips to load the first page with positive vibes:

  • Create social profiles so people can see what your business is all about. The first page of Google shows content posted on your social media accounts for the truth about who you are.
  • Design a micro site for different products and services you offer. These hone in on more detail about your services to amend any misconceptions.
  • Do some guest blogging on other reputable blogs. This kind of networking frequently turns reciprocal, so offer similar guest posts on your blog as well. Doing so creates positive comments about you from similar business owners.
  • Post press releases and news on third-party sites if you can. Many people who search for your business may also look at Google News headlines to see what your reputation is at the moment.
  • Consider creating company profile pages on industry directories. LinkedIn continues being a great source to provide details about your business, as well as showcasing comments from your peers or group conversations.

Going About Repairing Your Reputation

Once you have your proactive strategies in place, it’s time to take action to repair your reputation over time. Some of these strategies can eliminate some of the negativity quickly. Others might take a little time as you generate positive comments or content on search engines.

All of these strategies should take occur through your marketing team, or through a special task force set up for reputation management. It’s better to make this a group effort, so everyone is on the same page about guiding your company in the right direction.

Some things to consider:

Contacting Online Review Sites to Remove Non-Legitimate Reviews

It’s possible to contact places like Yelp to investigate whether the negative reviews you receive there are legitimate. If you have proof some reviews occurred in spite (or they never actually visited your business), online review sites might remove those comments.

Take a look at Yelp’s page about false or defamatory review removal. They provide a specific report page you can use for occasional good results.

Replying and Solving Review Issues

It’s not always possible to get places like Yelp to remove a review, simply because they value not taking sides in factual disputes. With this in mind, you might have to deal with replying to negative reviews as a reputation fix.

Any of you who’ve spent time on Yelp know many businesses frequently respond to negative reviews as a counterpoint. Doing so allows you to refute any claims in the review while not attacking the reviewer personally.

Your best approach is to simply show you care and ask them what you can do to make their experience better. Make an offer to the person to return to your business so you can correct what might have initially gone wrong.

For inspiration, take a look at how these businesses responded to reviews while owning up to mistakes.

Adding Positive Reviews On Your Site or Third-Party Sites

Don’t be afraid to add positive reviews to your website, something you can do using schema markups. Google provides a good tutorial on how to add these reviews using schema markup codes. It’s a great way to use more SEO principles to help your SERPs.

Take some time to add any positive comments about you on your site, or on third-party sites related to your industry.

Creating a YouTube Channel

Have you thought about repairing your reputation through recurring videos? Setting up a YouTube channel can help you support charities, local communities, or fundraisers. Getting involved with these gets your name mentioned in the news and the charity’s press releases.

More so, videos let you expand your business and show a transparent side. Repairing your reputation also relates to honesty, so create a few behind-the-scenes video tours to show you have nothing to hide.

Researching Any Incident Internally

Perhaps you’re in a situation where you’re receiving negative reviews, but you’re not sure why. You’ll need to take some time to investigate what’s going on in your business to avoid future incidents.

Taking time to do some research or audits can help scope out operational problems, or even certain employees who haven’t helped your reputation online lately.

Conclusion

There is always a way to repair and improve your online reputation. Use these tips to make today the day you take control of your good name and do all you can to prevent an avalanche of bad publicity. Share your favorite tips on improving online reputation and driving more business.