There’s an old saying that all publicity is good publicity. While that may have been true in the glory days of morning newspapers and Yellow Pages listings, it’s hardly characteristic of today’s marketing realities. The truth is that consumers — eager to protect their resources and make informed purchasing decisions — are more likely than ever to consult search engines before doing business with a company or investing in a brand. What consumers find online has the potential to either make or break a company, regardless of industry or niche.
Business owners and marketing directors would do well to ask this question: When a user conducts a Google or Bing search for brand X, what does he or she see? A list of rave reviews is more likely to end in conversion; a litany of customer complaints is likely to become a missed sales opportunity. For businesses, then, online reputation management is key — and it all starts with crafting a strong, positive online presence.
Finally, brands improve their online reputation — and further strengthen their search engine rankings — when they work to establish online authority. Authority, as Google defines it, is a nebulous concept, but amassing links from other respectable websites and publications is a helpful way of developing it. While some businesses fall into the easy trap of purchasing backlinks, the truth is that a single earned backlink from a reputable site is exponentially more valuable than a thousand links culled from spam sites or cheap article databases.
What this means for businesses and brands is that doubling down on content creation and allowing human readership to supersede SEO smoke and mirrors may actually be the most efficient and long-lasting way of developing a strong online reputation.
Cliff Stein is the CEO of Reputation Changer, an online reputation management company.