The way businesses approach marketing has shifted in recent years. The internet has made it possible for new brands to market themselves online to an audience that was harder to reach before.
With the help of internet marketing, it’s easier and cost effective to acquire customers. Consumers are constantly making buying decisions. But they are also making informed decisions by vetting the brands they deal with more carefully.
This makes it important for you as a marketer to ensure you present yourself and your brand in a positive light. This is where an online brand reputation audit can prove beneficial. And the good news is, it’s not complicated.
Complete your brand audit in 4 simple steps.
Step 1 – Step into your customer’s shoes
The first and very important step is to think like your audience. When they make buying decisions they want to know they are making the right choice when dealing with your company.
Prepare a list of phrases that potential customers may search for when researching your product or service. It may be the name of your company, your product or service, you the founder, or a combination.
For example, if your name is Jim Cook, and you own ABC Inc, a retail store that sells gym equipments here are some possible phrases people might search:
ABC Inc USA
ABC Gym Equipments
ABC Jim Cook
ABC Inc Reviews
ABC Delaware (Add the city and state if your business is has a local presence.)
Step 2 – Research how your brand is perceived online.
Now that you’ve developed a list of phrases, you’re ready to conduct a search to discover how your company and key executives are perceived online.
Start searching for each phrases one-by-one on Google. Since Google dominates (with market share at 65.44%) it’s not necessary to use other search engines that mostly a mirror a subset of Google’s results.
The top ten results you see on the first page will be the most important, as most users will not click past page one of search engine results.
Look at each result carefully, make a record each link and rank it accordingly; Positive (1), Neutral (0), and Negative (-1). Repeat this exercise for all of your phrases. Once you’re done, tally each ranking description and you will have a decent overview of how your brand is perceived online.
Even if there is one negative listing in the top 10, it’s something you seriously need to work on fixing. I will share how below.
Step 3 – Monitor your keyword phrases.
This next step is crucial. Monitor the web for any negative mentions of you or your brand. Thankfully, you do not have to do this manually. Use Google Alerts , a free tool that sends you email notifications any time Google finds new results on a topic that interests you.
When you receive an alert, record it and rank it as positive, neutral or negative. Anything negative should be noted with an action plan to fix it. Any bad press or negative mention can affect your business.
Analyze the type of negative mention you’ve received. It’s most likely:
a disgruntled employee
an unhappy customer
an online “troll”
an independent review
Step 4: Take corrective actions and manage all mentions
If you’ve come across negative mentions don’t panic. Take one of the following actionable steps to bury them.
If the page where the mention was found, allows you to post a comment, then do so and offer a sincere apology if applicable.
If you think the negative mention was not genuine, contact the website owner or support team indicating the same and inquire for proof of its authenticity.
Generate good press to bury the bad mentions.
Wherever you’ve an opportunity to respond, be polite.
If you’re dealing with a former disgruntled employee or customer, speak to them directly, apologize and request an opportunity to fix what went wrong.
Online brand reputation management is an essential aspect of your business. You may want to hire an employee, freelancer or outsource this task to a brand reputation agency.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Deepak Chauhan is the CEO and Founder of Vocso Web Studio, a creative digital agency based out of India & USA , launched in 2009. The web business strategist, who has 12+ years of experience, has worked with many small businesses and startups across the globe to help them build successful websites/applications and launch them online with his strategic consulting. His writing in various publications focus on helping businesses leverage the internet marketing tactics to expand further. He is also one of the judges for the prestigious Web Marketing Association. Connect with @vocso on Twitter.