3 Steps to Protect Your Online Reputation

Travis Bliffen
by Travis Bliffen 15 Jul, 2014

Sites like Rip-Off Report have made it very easy for a competitor to leave a false and damaging review about your business.

Even worse, if you want to respond to the claims, you have to pay money. Couple this with other sites that filter positive reviews unless you are a client and your business could be made to look very bad online by just one former employee or angry competitor.

Seventy-nine percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations according to Bright Locals' 2013 survey findings. This means that not having any reviews online or having bad reviews could be sending your customers to the competition. 

If you do business with many people, you are bound to run across someone who just can't see eye to eye with you and your business. Clients who don't understand the value you are providing them, former employees and competitors can all do a number to your online reputation pretty quickly. 

Today, we are going to look at a few ways that you can protect your online reputation and encourage more reviews from your clients.

How Can You Protect Your Online Reputation?

The two primary steps of protecting your reputation are ensuring you have more positive reviews than negative and controlling what appears for your brand name when searched. Let's start by looking at how to control what people see when they search for your company name or brand.

1. Set Up Profiles on Authority Sites

One of the easiest and most commonly used methods of controlling the first page results for your business is creating profiles on authority sites and leveraging that authority to rank quickly. This in known as Barnacle SEO and is used many ways, including reputation management. Here are some good sites to create a profile on.

1. Facebook

2. Twitter

3. Google Plus

4. Instagram

5. Pinterest

6. LinkedIn

7. YouTube

8. Foursquare

9. Slideshare

10. Vimeo

Since most searchers don't go beyond the first page, creating 10 profiles should be plenty to safeguard your reputation.

Did you know 75 percent of searchers do not go beyond page one of Google?

Once you create a profile on these sites, fill out all of the details completely. On the social sites, interacting, gaining followers and sharing updates are all important. Simply creating a profile on these sites is often enough to rank but when it isn't, some link building is needed. 

2. Link Build to Profiles

To build links, simply include a link to one of more of these profiles when you are guest posting on other sites. Most sites allow you to link out to social profiles so it should not be hard to get links. In addition, you can also use lower quality links to rank social profiles and authority sites which is one of the benefits of using Barnacle SEO. Social bookmarking, submission links, and for the daring, blog network links can be used to rank profiles quickly.

Pretty simple stuff huh? While you cannot always outrank negative reviews with profiles, more often than not you can. Before paying for expensive reputation management services give the above method a try. If it doesn't work then you made need some help. Now let's look at how to get more reviews for your business.

3. Get More Online Reviews

Having reviews for your business is very important and just like word of mouth, the more people speaking positively about your business, the more clients you will get. Statistically speaking, a customer is 10 times more likely to comment or share a bad experience than they are a good one. This means you need to give happy customers a reason to tell people about your business. Here are a few methods I have used that work very well to encourage customer reviews.

1. Simply ask- many business owners do not ask for reviews so simply sending out an email asking people to leave feedback on their experience can be very effective.

2. Make it easy- when you ask for a review, you are asking someone to invest their time into you. The less time and hassle involved, the more likely they are to leave a review. Adding a direct link to a review site they are already a member of is a great way to simplify. When signing up new customers, just ask if they use Yelp, Google +, Angie's List, etc... Segment those customers and provide them a direct link to review you on the sites they already use.

3. Incentivize- people love discounts, free stuff and special offers. You can use this to encourage reviews for your business. Simply let them know if they take the time to leave an honest review the will be rewarded with whatever you have to offer. Make it clear that it can be a good or bad review.

4. Partnerships- many businesses think that there clients can be the only ones to review their business. As a business owner you often work with other businesses, some very closely for years. Why not ask them to leave a few honest words about your character, work ethics and credibility?

5. Over Deliver- if you want someone to go and tell people about your business online or through word of mouth, over deliver. Make their experience so amazing that they cannot resist sharing their experience. Delivering as expected, ahead of schedule, and beyond expectations can sometimes be hard but it is always worth it. The few dollars you may lose making your client happy will easily be recouped from new referrals generated.

Again, pretty simple steps but they are often overlooked. Take the time to control how you appear and encourage reviews and you will be handsomely rewarded.

What do you think? Have you used any of these methods of do you have a tip for getting more reviews? I would love to hear about it below!

Author Bio: Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a search marketing and design agency located near St. Louis, Mo. Travis loves researching and writing about SEO strategies and implementing innovative strategies for his clients. Connect on Twitter @theseoproz.