Small Business Owner’s Guide to Online Reputation Management

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In today’s digital marketing landscape, it is easy to confuse online reputation management to simply social media monitoring and search engine optimization. In the greater sense, it is more than having an active customer service support to answer complaints in emails, comments, tweets and Facebook posts.

Small business owners need to understand that the moment you put your business online, people will start talking about you. For now, you may not receive any comment or distasteful posts, but it is best to prepare.

Reputation Risks Without Solid Content Marketing Plan & SEO

Risks are always there, has been from day 1. If you do not have a solid content marketing plan, chances of hateful comments and reviews to show up in search engine results is very high. A solid content marketing plan will ensure that you have relevant strong content that will be favored by search engines to rank.

Without strong content, you open a very wide window for hate comments to flood Google page 1 for keywords that relate to your business.

This is my perpetual appeal to my clients inquiring about the true essence of SEO. Search engine optimization goes above and beyond the goal of conversion.

A true SEO expert would understand that the methods applied to optimize a business website aims to ensure that the brand’s digital health is not only generating income but also secured.

Securing your digital assets is one thing, but securing your brand reputation is another.

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Bad Publicity Can Kill Your Business

The saying, “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” does not apply to all. If you are among the questionable Kardashians, then maybe.

Nonetheless, if you are a small business marketing products and services online and hoping for conversions, I guarantee that a few bad publicities will not only damage you, but can kill your business.

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People who finds information online will most likely be alarmed if there are so many red flags around your business. If for example my brand name “pat bagano” is keyed in Google, I get the #1 spot but if it is followed by so many bad reviews, worse, followed by hate sites about Pat Bagano. There is a very slim chance that someone would even dare open my page even if it is #1.

They might want to read the warnings placed to smear your reputation first. Unfortunately, when they read hateful comments or published materials, the chances of them going back to your website to do business with you, is very low.

There Is a War Out There

The primary motivation of most people who are online is to make money, even the smallest blogger blogging about their daily lives might have dreams of gaining readership and monetize their blogs.

For small business owners, it is even worse. Your website is the face you present your customers and target audience. Your competitors are always on the lookout for an opportunity to smear your face to make you seem unappealing. What do you do? If there is a war to gain readership and customers, it would be best to fight. It would be easier if you can call the cops.

But they have their rights, as much as you do. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

So come to think of it, calling a lawyer may be wise. But how much will that cost you? Are you sure that the legal proceedings will go smooth and fast? I doubt that. Furthermore, you cannot guarantee you are going to be smeared only by one person, to sue every single unhappy person that tries to bash your business will cost you a fortune.

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The best thing to do, is strengthen your brand’s reputation to the point that negative comments and publicity about your business does not affect your consumer base.

If your enemies send out the bombs, I mean create hate websites dedicated to only bash and smear your reputation. You better be prepared to understand the game and get your hands dirty with plenty of SEO and content marketing works.

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Time for Aggressive SEO Plan

It is time to escalate your SEO more than just simply publishing a few blog posts and ensuring on-page SEO is in place. A thorough analysis of your current website SEO structure has to be done, this needs to be compared to other charts and data from analytics and search console. The point here is, “how do people find you?” If you are found on particular keywords but also find content from your enemies, then it is time to restructure your SEO efforts.

Aggressive SEO will ensure that you dominate your Google page 1, if possible up to Google page 2. That will make sure that negative comments will no longer show up when someone tries to learn about you.

Easier said than done, I know. That is why there are online reputation experts and SEO experts. This is not the time to trust just about anybody. This is the time to consider who you hire to do the works. Otherwise, a few wrong moves are going to cost you more damage.

Prepare to Be Stressed

If the smear campaign that aims to ruin you already ranked in Google results for the primary keyword you are being found for. It will be a tough competition. But it speaks volumes about the weakness of your content marketing in the past. I am not here to blame you for ruining your business, but only to remind you that it is nobody’s fault but yours.

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You will only get even more stressed if you cling to blame and hate. There is a way to revert all of this, but as everything in this planet, it might take time.

If you are good in comparing data and can analyze top keywords for your website and how to play with short tail and long tail keywords, then you might be able to revert this yourself. But the best way is to really cut through the noise and bump your competition to lower rankings. If you still own #1 spot, it is a crucial stage to ensure you remain there. A single blackhat SEO move, you lose that spot and it will be harder to rise back up.

Conclusion

Online reputation management is not as simple as what you may think. It involves a lot of measuring, reading and analyzing. Boosting your content marketing efforts might help improve your rankings or get more customers. Improving your SEO will definitely get you somewhere. There is always a chance that you can get rid of bad publicity, but it will take a little bit of time to totally get them out of your way.

Call for help! If you need advice on online reputation management, please let me know.

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Pat Bagano
Owner at PATBAGANO.COM
Startup junkie and a geek in denial. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal fan. Always trying things in an unconventional way. Helping bloggers globally to reach their goals.

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PatBagano.com

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