Definition: Reputation management (RM) describes proactive and reactive business efforts to influence consumer perception of a brand. Online reputation management applies these practices to search engine results, focusing on branded queries. All retailers — whether online, offline, or both — can benefit by staying abreast of their online reputation and seeking to intervene where possible.
Reputation management has always been an important business practice, but has been completely reshaped by the internet. According to a 2012 survey, 70% of consumers trust online product reviews and opinion-posts, while only 58% trust statements about a brand found on the brand's own website. That puts online businesses at a disadvantage if negative reviews and assessments of their brand gain traction in Google searches — regardless of their truth or merit. Customers who are extremely pleased or grossly dissatisfied can directly impact the public perception of a brand. Online reputation management acknowledges the importance of what consumers can find out about you and looks at what a business can and can't control.
The first step to online reputation management is knowing what's out there. Identify important brand queries for your business such as "[brand] review" and set up Google alerts to monitor any major changes. This can include newly-published articles, reviews, and merchant listing websites.
But monitoring your reputation is just the first step. To exert as much control as possible over online reputation, consider the following tactics: