Why is Online Reputation Management Important?

Learn about protecting your company’s reputation with online reputation management tactics.

By Allison Goldberg

When it comes to building positive awareness about a brand, it takes a lot of time and effort to build and maintain a company’s online reputation. Just like in the physical world, a reputation is all a business really has.

But what is an online reputation? Furthermore, why is online reputation management important?
Wikipedia.com defines reputation management as “the process of tracking an entity's actions and other entities' opinions about those actions; reporting on those actions and opinions; and reacting to that report creating a feedback loop…..”

When theses actions and opinions are expressed in an environment such as the internet, where content can be posted anonymously to a large audience, the results can really hurt ones online reputation.  
Nowadays, when people use the internet, whether it is informational or transactional in nature, they use one of the major search engines: Google, Yahoo, or MSN. They rely on the content they find as the most relevant content the internet has to offer. More specifically, they rely on the content they find on the first page of that search engine.

Online reputation management is essential nowadays. More and more companies are participating in online marketing strategies in the hopes of protecting their company reputation from negative bloggers, ranking postings, and even defamatory content submitted anonymously from business competitors. Data from a recent survey of 300 consumers from the Society of New Communications Research stated that “74% (of consumers) choose companies/brands based on others’ customer care experiences shared online.” This statistical data supports what many individuals and companies had to find out the hard way, for most people, the information they read online directly correlates with the opinions they form (and often the purchases they make).

Defamatory content can, if properly optimized, make its way to the top of the search engine results and ruin its subject, be that a Fortune 500 company or a single person. Search engines rank by relevancy and not by quality. Therefore, lies and misinformation can be spread just as easily as honest concern or complaint.

This is why online reputation management is important. It serves as a defense to negative and defamatory content against your company. In the past few years a number of companies have been built with the sole purpose of online reputation management.  The general idea of which is to control what the potential customers see.

There are many SEO marketing strategies that suggest how you can manage your online reputation by filling up the front page of the search results with fresh content, moving all the negative content to other pages. Some of these online reputation management tactics are: creating your own website (or multiple sites), blogging, press releases, creating a squidoo lens, submitting videos to youtube.com, and creating social network profiles such as facebook.com, myspace.com, linkedin.com , and zoominfo.com that can show up in the search results. Then you must engage in a link building strategy to assure these sites will rank well on the search engines to move the negative feedback to other result pages. These blogs, social profiles and articles provide new, and hopefully more accurate, accounts of a story than previously reported. This content, along with the SEO marketing strategies discussed, can help shape public opinion through the internet and assist in protecting your company’s reputation.
An example of this would be a consumer complaining on numerous websites about a bad experience with a product. Let’s say you are a medium sized company that sells children’s toys, and a consumer bought a toy for their kid’s birthday present, and the toy broke after only being used once.  If that consumer decides to express their concern online, and write negative reviews about your toys on numerous sites, you company could be negatively affected.  But, if that company was actively protecting their company reputation by engaging in online reputation management, they could provide fresh content to the search engines with positive customer reviews, information about the company, and why people should purchase toys from your company. Providing this alternate viewpoint would help the company’s image.

Why is online Reputation management important? It provides marketing stability, protects against unchecked defamation, and most importantly, allows a company to “put its best face forward” in the online world.

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