The digital age is allowing prospective customers and clients to be on the lookout for anything and everything about your brand. Whether it’s positive, negative, or somewhere in between, anyone can hop online to research and make assumptions based on their findings. So, how can you tap into your online reputation to defend your brand’s image?
Easy answer – You conduct an audit, assess the findings, and create strategies to tackle each aspect of the foundation of your brand’s reputation. However, while this answer sounds easy, there is a great deal of complexity within each step. Now is the time to step out from behind your rose-colored glasses and see your brand from the eyes of the everyday person… beginning with an online reputation audit!
Purpose of an Online Reputation Audit
An online reputation audit is conducted to specifically evaluate the foundational pieces of a brand’s reputation online, including:
- Are there threats to your brand?
- Do competitors use your brand equity to attract traffic to their websites?
- Are activists altering the perception of your brand?
- Are negative customer and employee reviews impacting your search results?
- How well does your brand resonate with your prospective customer’s needs?
- Do you show up in active conversations on search engines, blogs, forums, and social media platforms for the services you provide?
- Can online users define who you are and what services you provide at a glance?
- Are consumers able to distinguish between your brand and your competitors?
- What sets you apart from the crowd?
- Where and how are people finding your brand online?
- What online claims are being made about your brand?
- Are you actively engaging and maintaining your presence with consumers?
- If you engage with potential clients and customers, how regularly?
- Is there a way to curate the search results to generate a better traffic funnel?
- How are users searching for your brand?
- What kind of content should your brand be creating to meet user search intent?
Having an online reputation to uphold requires knowing more than the stakeholder’s side of the story. By assessing each of the above categories with depth and the right questions, you can easily begin to understand the story of your potential clients and customers. Read on to find out more about each category used in an online reputation audit.
Aside from any obvious negative search results ranking in the first couple of pages for your brand’s search keyword, our audit identifies threats in areas you may not be looking for. We discover content that is on its way toward ranking for your brand, and what kind of content may promote negative ideas around your brand goals.
Relatability in an audit is one of the more important pieces of a brand’s overall business strategy online because without it, you wouldn’t be able to resonate with your potential clients and get their business.
The easiest way to identify if people are resonating with your brand online is by surveying those who have previously or currently utilized your business services. By honing in on the feedback they provide to the questions you ask, you can make a formal assessment of what you need to work on to relate to more potential clients.
Just as you would survey those who had or do relate to your brand, it is also important to assess those who work for you. External surveying is crucial, but so is internal assessment. When it comes down to the core of your brand if those who work for you aren’t sure of how, where, or what to search for to find your business and services, how can you expect the general public to either?
Beyond surveying, you can also analyze the various online platforms that your business shows up on in conversations. Identify if the content your brand shows up in is positive, negative, or somewhere in between. Read the conversations that are being had, and assess whether or not your brand has actively engaged or responded to the online community.
Understanding how aware individuals are of your brand online is another important aspect of the audit you conduct. When you are searched for online, consumers are inundated with other top businesses that may offer the same services as you in your area. To be selected as a potential customer’s first choice, you must know what sets your brand apart from the competition.
Is your brand easily found on relevant search engines, such as Google, and social media platforms? If so, why is it easy for them to find you? Simple, yet overlooked questions every business should be asking itself in a digital-driven era. If your effort is not put into visibility online, you can’t expect the same results that your competitors who do, will experience.
Gauging interactions being made on social media as well as on forums and blogs plays a role in this portion of your online reputation audit in the sense that they give you proof of your impact on an audience. As your name buzzes between individuals and businesses, you increase the awareness of your brand identity. Both positive and negative interactions are key indicators of the real awareness and likeness of your brand, so noting both is imperative to conduct a thorough audit.
Credibility is crucial to any online reputation, especially with the hundreds of scam artists, fake accounts, hackers, and illegitimate fronts to blast past online. Things like…
- Evaluating reviews
- Owning and maintaining social media profiles
- Providing the certifications, licensing, and legal documentation as seen fit
- Actively engaging with your audiences
…all have an impact on your online reputation. While this is one of the tougher categories of an audit to get a handle on because it so heavily relies on consumer feedback, it is eye-opening once you can take into consideration how credible you are viewed by customers and the community.
Identifying user search intent is very important to understand what content needs to be developed to take control of your search results. We help you understand what users want when they search and what funnels they use when they perform searches. This data opens up the possibility to curate how users engage your brand and ensure you have a strong impact on the result moving forward.
How to Initiate an Online Reputation Audit
Now that we’ve painted a more comprehensive picture of the many factors one must account for when performing a thorough reputation audit, could your brand stand to take a closer look?
If you answered yes, your next step would be to assemble the right team and put them to task.
We find tremendous value in performing internal audits, and we strongly encourage you to use this article as a supplemental guide to your existing process. It’s imperative to leave no stone unturned while sweeping the online landscape for mines that could cause serious harm to your online visibility, presence, and hard-fought reputation.
If you suspect members of your team lack the rigorous training or specialization our analysts endure OR are unprepared to put forth the hours it takes to thoroughly complete the essential components as outlined, we’re here to answer your call.
At the end of the day, we feel it best to keep the aces in their places. Nobody does your business better than you, and nobody does online reputation management better than us.
Let’s allow our teams to work together for you so we can stay out in front of any potential threats to your online reputation.
Book your free action plan call with one of our experts at Reputation Rhino today to discuss setting up an audit!