Five Surefire Signs Your Online Reputation Needs Work
March 13th, 2018 by
A bad reputation is terrible for business, and yet online reputations are difficult for many business owners to fully understand—much less control. When a customer is upset in your restaurant or store, it’s relatively easy for a manager to handle the situation in person. Problems with online branding can be harder to detect than an angry patron. A negative online review might feel less urgent than a disgruntled customer screaming at your employees, but that review may be seen by countless potential customers in the future. An unpopular social media presence is a missed opportunity for cost-effective community engagement, and unpopular websites appear lower in search rankings. Learn how to identify the signs of a reputation problem online and protect the future of your brand.
1. Your Bounce Rate Is High
We all do it. You visit a website, but it doesn’t have what you wanted, so you return to the search engine and try elsewhere. When your website has a high bounce rate, it means that people aren’t finding what they wanted. Bounce rate issues are insidious because they erode your online reputation with search engines, but they can be caused by a combination of overlapping factors. Low-quality content can drive up a bounce rate, but so can technical details about website formatting.
Websites that aren’t responsive or mobile-friendly have a high bounce rate because mobile users are unable to access the content. On the other hand, some sites are difficult to navigate on any device because of unclear menu options and poor organization. The text on a page should be clear and helpful, relevant to the topic at hand. If a link about a specific product directs to a landing page with information about the general industry, then users may decide to search elsewhere. The easiest way to address a high bounce rate is to work with a web designer and content creator to improve the user experience.
2. There’s an Increase in Negative Reviews
It’s impossible to please everyone, and some customers always seem to find a reason to be disappointed. Nevertheless, a streak of negative reviews can undermine any online reputation. When negative reviews appear, it is important to address the reviewer’s concern within your company. Accept the feedback as an opportunity to prevent a repeat of the same disappointment.
When the reviewer’s concerns are being addressed, it sometimes makes sense to reply to the review. Make it a brief and professional response to avoid getting entangled in an argument. As quickly as possible, move the discussion out of the public eye, preferably by providing an email address for further correspondence. Many people are more understanding and open to resolution in direct correspondence, but remember that anything you write in email can still be copied into a public forum. Ultimately, any response to negative reviews is an exercise in damage control. The best solution is prevention, providing such a high quality of service that the positive reviews outnumber negative ones.
3. Your Social Media Engagement Is Lacking
Social media marketing is a cost-effective way to interact with customers and build your brand awareness. An inactive Facebook page is a missed opportunity for advertising, and so is a mismanaged page. Excessively promotional posts don’t offer value to your audience and can give a negative impression. If none of your recent posts have any likes, shares, or comments, then your audience is not engaged with your message.
Rather than only promoting your business, use social media to share other kinds of content as well. Share informational posts about recent news and updates relevant to your industry or community. Include frequent posts that aim primarily to elicit engagement, whether they share a cute animal picture or joke. Depending on what’s appropriate for your industry, you can also post a poll asking for people to voice their preference between popular techniques or theories.
4. Your Website Is Not Authoritative
Authoritative websites rank higher on Google, but building authority takes time. One of the most reliable methods for building authority is inbound links. When important, trustworthy websites link to your website, it shows search engines that your content is a trustworthy authority on those subjects. In the early days of search engine optimization, you could improve your ranking by posting links to your website in random blog comments and basically spreading the links as many places as possible. Now, algorithms are smart enough to sort out what is authentic, and will not reward those who take shortcuts to improve their ranking.
To build authority, invest time into quality content that provides useful information to visitors. Accelerate the authority-building process by getting your business (and website) mentioned in newspapers and trade journals, resources that have already established themselves as reliable. Ultimately, a high quality and helpful website will be shared by people organically as a resource. Your authority will grow as visitors share your page with their friends.
5. Your Branding Is Inconsistent
Inconsistent branding isn’t always as obvious as it sounds. Some companies might change their name while keeping the same website, and then it’s obviously important to go through and eliminate all appearances of the old name. On the other hand, many businesses use a shortened version of their full name in casual conversation. It can be tempting to use the shorter name in website content, making the tone friendly and hospitable, but search engines don’t appreciate that your company’s nickname isn’t an altogether different name. If a search engine thinks your business can’t keep its own name straight, then that’s a sign that the content may not be reliable. Avoid using shortened versions of your name, and make sure to proofread when you’re publishing content and adding your business to online directories.