There’s nothing worse than seeing a negative review or a piece of negative press appear about your brand. And when it’s online, it’s understandable to feel slightly helpless in terms of how you can change the narrative.

In this post, I’m going to go into detail about how I go about changing the narrative when it comes to brands online. First, we’ll run through how to be “proactive” to basically safeguard yourself for the future. Then, we’ll go over a “reactive” strategy using a previous (unnamed) client as an example, with some screenshots and commentary on the campaign showing how I tackle these. 

Clear Eyes is proud to offer online reputation management services, but I love to help small to medium-sized businesses anywhere, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions!

Proactive ORM

If you’re looking at how to do online reputation management yourself, there are some simple strategies you can put in place yourself without the help of a professional. I’ll run through these here.

Build Reviews & Incentivize Reviewers

For any business in any industry, reviews are key. A recent report stated that one bad review is equivalent to 40 good reviews. Yikes. And in terms of TrustPilot’s star ratings, you need ten 5 star reviews to counter a single one star review.

The thing is, negative reviews will happen. You can’t please everyone. The important thing is to make sure you’re being proactive to counter the inevitable bad review here and there. The easiest way to get reviews? Incentivize your customers.

A few times I’ve ordered from Etsy lately, the individual designer has left a hand-written note asking for a review of their Etsy shop. That’s a nice touch. I feel businesses, and individuals, can go harder on the review front though by actually offering their customer something. If you’re a pizza shop, that should be a free slice if someone can prove they left you a Google review. If you’re an online retailer and you send someone a product, you can give them 10% off their next order if they leave a verified review of their purchase.

Reviews don’t just have to be customers commenting on Google or TrustPilot or wherever you ask for reviewers. You can even go as far as running campaigns where, if your customers take a video and post it to social media using a hashtag, you can enter them into a draw to win a prize. Keep it organic, stay away from faked “influencer” nonsense, but be sure to incentivize whoever you’re marketing to, in order to make it worth their time!

Keep people updated

Some brands are guilty of doing this too much, but regularly correspondence with your customers can build positive relationships and elevate your brand. This can be via a monthly email to let them know what’s going on, or simply on social media.

In the digital age, you have to make sure you’re staying relevant. While I don’t like being barraged with emails every day with offers (plenty of big brands are the culprits here) let’s put it this way: if a brand wasn’t emailing me, I might forget they exist.

Use content marketing to create conversations in your industry

One of the goals of ORM is to protect your brand search in Google. When people search for your name, this means you want to be showing only positive results. Creating content that gets written about, and spoken about, is a great way to ensure your brand looks good to people in your industry, as well as Google and other search engines.

Businesses often think content marketing will dent their budget, but it can easily be done to suit any budget. In this example, I created a helpful resource that was relevant to the client’s industry, which resulted in a number of excellent written features that started appearing for the brand search term, and precious backlinks to the website.

Reactive ORM (with examples)

This can be harder to do without the help of someone who’s experienced, as reactive ORM takes time and can be costly if you don’t have a solid strategy in place.

So let’s take a look at how I’d do online reputation management with a hypothetical example.

You Google your brand and see a negative article appearing on page one

A nightmare for any small business owner. Here’s how we work to bunt articles like these to the back of Google search. 

First, we identify which negative pages you don’t want appearing for your brand search. It doesn’t matter if it’s one bad result, two, or five, they can all be extradited.

Define a backlink strategy vs negative page/s

We look at how many backlinks your owned assets, or other positive pages about your brand have, against the negative article/s. This establishes, roughly, how many links we will need to build to push these pages down in the SERPs. 

In this instance, there was a Guardian article with negative connotations about the brand (the bolded line on the screenshot) so we looked at “RDs (referring domains) vs the Guardian” to get our link targets.

orm strategy

We get a “run rate” for links per month

Once we know how many total links we need to build, we can develop a “run rate” and figure out, based on budget, how quickly we can eradicate the negative articles.

Link building begins

Link building is a collaborative process. We can leverage existing contacts in your industry, as well as reach out to publications ourselves that would be a good fit for the brand.

Create new pages/articles for your brand

This is an important part of a good ORM strategy, in that we’re also helping new and fresh results appear for the brand. These new pages can be social media accounts, Medium accounts, or any sort of presence on a platform that is going to be a positive for you in terms of reaching your target audience, as well as appearing for your brand searches on Google.

In this example, we created a Twitter page for the brand, and also used digital PR as an extension of our link building strategy, in order to have new articles appearing for the brand from trusted industry publications.

Report and be reactive

The results for this particular campaign spoke for themselves. Here, in a screenshot from our reporting, we analyzed where each article we focused on ranked for the brand search term on Google. Within four months, the negative Guardian article was midway down page 3 of Google search, essentially buried where nobody would be finding it any longer.

online reputation management reporting

The importance of being reactive can’t be understated. In any campaign, there will be ranking fluctuations and potentially new pages appearing in Google’s results. We use the initial “link deficit” findings as our foundation, but should be open to changing targets as results subsequently change.