Bad stuff happens, even to great companies. Sometimes even a simple mistake can cause a volley of angry comments and cause a miniature disaster when it comes to your digital reputation.

But once your business’ negative reviews get a hold of the first page of Google Search results, you’ll need to put in a lot of effort to pull them down. Some even claim you will need to pull up 20 other results just to push down one negative review to page three.

That really does seem like quite a venture!

It’s not impossible to rebuild your reputation. Take Heineken, for example, and their Sometimes Lighter Is Better beer campaign, which was perceived as racist by many and caused an avalanche of negative comments. They outlived it and the news about the “incident” got buried somewhere deep down.

Still, Heineken is a piece of machinery, and most companies usually can’t afford such an outpouring of criticism.

But there are ways you can influence your online reputation significantly and outlive the chaos caused by negative reviews and ratings if you ever find yourself a part of it.

SEO will come to your rescue, but you still have a job to do.

Craft Your Content

High-quality SEO content is the foundation of your online reputation because it highly affects your ratings. When trying to build your online reputation, search engine optimization will influence the content you provide to appear favorably in the search results for certain keywords from your niche, so it actually increases your website’s performance.  

But if the content you provide doesn’t offer your visitors something they will find useful and relevant, all your SEO efforts won’t get an increase in rankings.

In addition to optimizing it for search engines, the content you post needs to be:

  • User-focused. Always keep in mind – it is not about your company or your product, it is about your customers. Everything you post needs to be focused on your target audience, which means you need to research them well. Then you can integrate a relevant and high-converting keyword into the topic they would like to learn more about.
  • Readable. This actually means you have to present the content in a clear and simple way and organize it well. This will make users spend more time on it, which will send a signal to Google that your dwell time is great and that your content is, thereby, useful.
  • Easy to load, on mobile too. People won’t wait long for your content to display and your dwell time will be around  15 seconds on average if your page performs poorly. There are many things that can boost your loading speed, such as reducing HTTP calls on your website, optimize the media, etc.
  • Visually appealing. Add images to your text, use infographics, videos. People love visual content.  Recent data shows that, for example, more than 500 million Facebook users watch videos every single day, and that posts with images have 2.3x more shares.  By adding visuals, the engagement grows, and so do your ratings. Just make sure to optimize your videos, images, and infographics because alt tags are important too.
  • Offer supporting data. Your content needs citations and sources in order to be relevant and trustworthy.

Make Your Own Brand

Think of your brand as your business personality. SEO can help your personality be noticed faster by those who are looking for certain characteristics they need, but then again, it all comes round to what you have to offer.

So, except for your name and your design, your brand will include your core values, the way you communicate, as well as your target audience’s perception of it.

To boost your reputation or raise the awareness of your brand, you will have to be consistent with your efforts and include them in each piece of the content you provide online, and every communication you have.

Or as it was perfectly put into words  in a recent article on how to craft a brand by the Toastcreative digital agency from Sydney:

“Brands are only as good as the people who live and breathe them. Building a brand from the inside out – uncovering the true purpose of a brand and bringing it to life in a relevant and meaningful way – is only possible when people believe in what’s being said.”

Focus on Customers

Make your customer your priority – no matter how satisfied they are with your product or service.  Recent statistics that more than 86% of consumers are ready to pay more for a great customer experience. This proves just how important this factor is for your reputation.

Legitimate user reviews impact your rankings, so you need to work hard to obtain them, even if your users are generally satisfied with your product. A good referral program can help you with this one, so it should be a part of your strategy.

When it comes to positive reviews and comments, be sure to always show your appreciation. The same goes for the negative ones, but make sure to correct your mistakes in reviews and give a clarification, in a polite, friendly, and non-dismissive way.

The more good reviews your prospects see, the higher the chances that they will click through or share, so the effort you put in will pay off.

Social Listening

As all of your prospects use social media, you need to leverage this resource too. Social listening combined with SEO can do wonders for your reputation.

There are many who post about you or mention you without you being aware, so you can find the linkless mentions and ask the author to add the link which will lead to you.

Also, you can review your backlinks and make sure they benefit your rankings, as well as find guest blogging opportunities, which again can increase your reputation.

Another benefit comes from monitoring your competition, because you can easily determine where they get their links from, which influencers they work with and where they do their guest posts. All the information gathered this way, you can use to your benefit.

SEO combined with other aspects of digital marketing is the only way to gain some control of your online reputation. If you plan ahead and use these tactics from the beginning of your digital journey, you will have less to deal with if and when the problem emerges.