An in-depth study uncovered that four out of five internet users view the internet as the most reliable source of information about any product or business. Another research also claimed that approximately a staggering 97% of internet users read online reviews when searching for a local business, and about 85% of these people usually treat these reviews as a personal recommendation and take them almost as seriously as they would consider a recommendation tip from a close friend.
This simply means that both new customers and existing ones gauge a brand’s reputation based on reviews left on the internet about your business. While there is always an option to leave it to luck and risk your chances of controlling your business reputation, there is a more sensible solution.
In this article, we will outline what online reputation management is, how it works and why it is so crucial. Also, we shall focus on the monitoring part and how to facilitate the data collection process with Datacenter Proxies or ready-to-use Real-Time Crawler.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management (ORM) is defined as all concepts and channels used to create and maintain a positive online perception about a person, a brand, or business.
The concept of internet reputation management includes monitoring and responding to any negative comments from customers, reacting swiftly to online stories that paint your business in a bad light, and quickly releasing the proper public statements when the need to counteract a social media post arises.
As for the channels, digital reputation management usually includes both your brand website and social media.
Why is online reputation management important for your business?
The point of ORM is to make sure you do not leave your brand reputation in the hands of algorithms, for instance, Google algorithms. These algorithms are not known to be able to properly differentiate between what is true and what is tantalizing, and hence cannot be relied on to properly build or maintain a positive online reputation.
Here are the main benefits of online reputation management:
- Reliability. Controlling your online reputation will help you make sure that customers indicate your brand as trustworthy and reliable. While the majority of clients trust online reviews before making a purchase, a positive online presence can actually increase your revenue.
- Risk management. Words on social media spread like wildfires, especially negative ones. Any negative comment could influence your clients’ buying decisions and make them switch to your competitors. Recent research has demonstrated that unsatisfied customers value quick and proper response from customer service, even if the issue itself cannot be solved instantly. A short acknowledgment and reassurance that you are taking care of their problem can turn angry clients into loyal ones.
- Useful feedback. Monitoring what your clients tell about your product provides you free and valuable feedback on how to improve your services. With all that data you can accurately indicate and define your product’s features that your customers focus on and value the most.
How does online reputation management work?
Online reputation management works by giving you extensive control over how your brand or product is perceived on the internet. Since your brand reputation usually consists of what is available about your brand on the internet, controlling that narrative is the sole task of managing online reputation.
Controlling your brand online presence can be done in two ways – creating the right presence and making sure that presence is found.
Creating the right online presence
Your brand online presence can be defined by what people find when they search for your business on search engines. Also, it links to what they see about your business on social media. Creating the right presence can be done in four ways, something that is now popularly known as the PESO model (Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media).
- Paid media: These include platforms that you pay some amount to in order to feature healthy content about your brand, its services, and even website. The platforms can be Google Ads with sponsored content, social media ads, sponsored posts on Facebook and Twitter, as well as promotions by brand ambassadors and influencers. By using paid media, you can exercise control over your online reputation.
- Earned media: They include platforms that feature content about your brand for free such as, external online articles, press coverage and industry forums, blogs and vlogs, and even Google My Business with free customers’ reviews. You may, of course, not have complete control in this case, but having several earned media pushing a positive outlook about your brand builds authority in the industry.
- Shared media: Shared media are, basically, social media platforms. It is important to maintain a positive presence on these media as even a bit of negativity can harm your business greatly. You will, therefore, need to monitor mentions about your business and address them properly.
- Owned media: These are what you own and refers to all the information about your brand that is completely under your control. It includes your business website and blog page. When properly utilized, owned media gives you the chance to create a solid online presence.
Making sure that presence is found
Another crucial step is to ensure that the presence you have already created can be easily discovered. A great ORM strategy must include ways to persuade search engines to rank your content as relevant and feature it in the top 1% of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) as this is where the largest percentage of internet users usually focus on.
To encourage search engines to rank your content as supreme, it needs to be known to be relevant, authoritative, regularly updated, reliable, contain quality backlinks from relevant websites, as well as have enough people searching and interacting with it.
Planning an online reputation management project
ORM may sound like a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Public Relations (PR), but it differs greatly from both. We see this especially in how it is planned, which includes the steps below:
- Set up your online reputation management goals.
Before you dive into writing goals and formulating plans, you will need to first understand what your reputation online currently looks like. The result usually signifies what your current online presence is like. Hence, your online reputation management will now stem from trying to fix or improve whatever you find out.
The goals could be to rank top on SERPs, to make customers drop more positive reviews and make those reviews easier for all to see, to prevent negative comments from flying, or to prevent unhealthy stories about your brand going viral. But whatever the goals you choose to set, make sure they are realistic.
- Determine your targets
After you have identified what your goals are, the next thing you want to do is pick your targets. Your targets, in this case, refer to keywords that are associated with your digital presence and online platforms, websites, forums, or search engines that may provide insights into your brand reputation.
Customers usually search for your brand using different keywords that relate to your business or industry. These common keywords then become tied to your brand, and they can come with both negative and positive comments. What you want to do is focus on building those keywords that bring positive results while getting rid of those that bring negative results.
Also, at this stage, you should identify web targets that you plan to monitor and data that will give you the most accurate results.
- Choose the right tools for data gathering
Data collection is a crucial part of online reputation management. It helps you understand what customers are saying about your brand and observe online platforms where your business name is popping up. At this step, you should evaluate how challenging it will be to access previously defined targets and publicly available data. Accordingly, choosing the right data gathering tools will allow you to save resources and harvest quality data.
- Monitor brand mentions and customer reviews
At this stage, you need to regularly and consistently monitor what is being said about your brand as well as the reviews your customers are dropping.
Proactive review monitoring on your brand mentions will help keep you aware of online conversations that mention your brand. You can then move in to swiftly address the issue or simply ignore it, as not all mentions are worth responding to.
- Analyze the collected data
Your online reputation management project should also include the part where you analyze the data you have gathered. The point of planning this project is to have quality data about your brand to work with, and the ultimate goal of gathering data is to properly analyze it.
Once analyzed, such data can help you make informed decisions that will end up growing the positive presence of your brand.
- Set new marketing goals
The process of reputation management online is both never-ending and cyclic. Never-ending because it is generally never done and cyclic because it starts at setting goals and ends at setting new goals. These new marketing goals can range from anything that helps your brand dominate SERPs to ways that can encourage your customers to leave more positive reviews.
Challenges of monitoring online reputation
Monitoring online reputation is not without its challenges. There are several challenges you may face when trying to monitor your brand presence online, and we will discuss the most common four:
- Multiple targets
With countless sites and numerous customers quickly dropping their opinions and reviews, monitoring brand presence may be exhausting. Also, while you might need to observe and scan diverse targets (various websites, search engines, forums, and social media), collecting publicly available data from them will require additional expertise.
- Multiple geo-locations and languages.
Besides the diversity of multiple targets, the data you need might be scattered in various geo-locations and communicated in different languages. Thus, you may not see the whole view since websites may show only the information customized for your specific location. If your company runs a global product and you want to gain an in-depth overview of your brand mentions or reviews, then you will need to overcome geographic restrictions.
- Quality web data
Due to the complexity and large scale of the issue, gathering quality data can be especially hard. Failing to collect accurate and necessary web data may result in additional resources at the analysis stage: you will need more time, financial funds, and experts to examine the outcome and provide insightful results.
- Choosing the tools
Not knowing the right tools to use or lacking professional knowledge and not employing them properly can also prove to be a challenge to monitoring your online presence. It goes without saying that online monitoring tools are important, however picking the right ones and using them well is also just as essential.
Solutions for efficient online monitoring
Efficient online monitoring includes everything from gathering data to responding appropriately and proactively to that data. However, gathering data from countless websites is not the easiest of tasks. Depending on your business goals and needs, you may choose between building an in-house web scraper or picking a ready-to-use data collection tool for efficient data monitoring and gathering:
In-house web scraper
An efficient online monitoring and data gathering usually require scraping several targets at once. One of the ways to successfully harvest data is by building an in-house web scraper. While most websites have integrated sophisticated anti-bot measures, they quite easily track non-human activities and block your IP.
This is where proxies come to play and facilitate these operations. Datacenter Proxies allow you to capture publicly available data from challenging targets and ensure a reliable web scraping experience. Also, Residential Proxies can be especially useful when monitoring targets from specific geo-locations around the world. They offer global coverage of all the countries in the world with city-level targeting.
All-In-one web scraping tool
Building an in-house web scraper can be more than challenging. Not to mention that it requires extensive technical knowledge, resources, and continuous upkeep. For this reason, there are built scraping tools that ease data gathering without the need for additional infrastructure.
Real-Time Crawler is designed to allow its users to collect publicly available data from major search engines and e-commerce sites. It can handle any form of website changes, extract structured JSON data in real-time while rotating proxies, and preventing IP blockings and CAPTHAs. This way, our clients can focus more on analyzing the collected data and generating insights.
Every brand has a reputation to manage and protect. This important matter cannot be left to algorithms but must be handled diligently through online reputation management. This is, of course, not the easiest of jobs. But the benefits of a positive online presence greatly exceed any trouble that is put into building and maintaining that reputation. While such projects involve monitoring and harvesting large-scale data, you will need to make a decision on which web scraping solution suits your business needs and goals.
If you have a dedicated in-house team of scraping experts and developers, then Datacenter Proxies will definitely fuel success rates and help you to improve your scraping experience. If you want to focus more on data analysis rather than its gathering, then Oxylabs’s Real-Time Crawler is a go-to choice. Whether you have any questions or would like to try our products, please contact us via live chat or book a call with our sales team to get started!