bloggingYou’re aware that social media has become a very powerful tool for Internet marketing, right? It is also very useful in managing the online reputation of your brand and business. When you realize that maintaining a good business blog can effectively help you manage your online reputation better, you’ll be sure to grab the first opportunity to get your blog in place.

It is common knowledge that a brand’s reputation can be built or destroyed by the feedback people post about it anywhere on the Internet. In the same way, you can effectively enhance your online reputation management with a well-maintained business blog. You can hire a blogging expert to maintain your blog for your or maintain the blog on your own. What’s important is for you to make sure the blog serves the purpose for which you put it up in the first place.

Why a Blog is Important for Online Reputation Management

There’s good reason why a blog is deemed to be among the best tools for you to use in building a solid online reputation. Basically, a blog is a reflection of your thoughts and personality. It therefore gives readers the opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your brand. It tells them who you are, what you hope to achieve, and what you have to offer, among other things. In most cases, a blog also gives consumers a chance to express their thoughts about your products and services as well as your business in general. The opportunity to freely voice out their opinions is something most people appreciate.

The Risks

Just like practically anything else in this world, maintaining a blog comes with its own set of risks. When you give people free rein in commenting on your blog, the comments section can work not only to your advantage, but also to your detriment. No matter how well your blog is written and how relevant and useful your posts are, there are bound to be people with negative things to say. The smallest cause for dissatisfaction with your products and/or services can be made to look very bad online, and the ability of negative feedback to go viral very quickly doesn’t help at all. You need to realize as well that the more popular your blog becomes, the more vulnerable you are to negative feedback. That’s because there are more people reading your blog, therefore increasing the chance of your posts offending someone’s sensibilities.

Dealing with Negative Feedback

There are generally three ways for you to deal with negative feedback on your business blog. You’ll have to decide which of these three approaches is the most appropriate in each instance when you’re faced with negative feedback.

1. Ignore

Sometimes people complain just for the sake of complaining. This is when they just say something bad about you or your brand without really backing their complaint with any substantial information. For example, someone could say, “You’re an idiot!” and that’s it. No reason as to why he thinks you’re an idiot and what you said or did that warranted that reaction. In this case, most of your readers will probably ignore the comment and it may be best for you to do so as well. Responding will only bring attention to the comment and may even depict you as being too sensitive.

 2. Respond

Of course, there are also instances when the negative comment is actually valid or can be very damaging to your reputation if left unaddressed. If someone disagrees with something you said and gives strong arguments against it, respond promptly in a calm manner, acknowledging your difference in opinion. If you’re convinced that you’re right, stand by your opinion without offending the commenter. However, if you realize you were indeed wrong, admit it and thank the commenter for correcting you. This will show your readers that you value their opinions, which is a very good way of using negative comments to your advantage.

Listen to negative comments

Responding properly to valid negative comments on your blog can help you turn those comments into something good for your online reputation.

Sometimes the negative comments have something to do with product complaints. In this case, strive to get the issue resolved as quickly as you can. Always remember that addressing valid complaints is an activity that may be time-consuming, but will never be a waste of time.

3. Remove

Some negative comments are intentionally malicious. These may come from competitors or from people known in the Internet world as trolls. If the comment doesn’t serve any purpose at all, you have the option to remove it. It may even be wise to block the commenter from accessing the comments section of your blog.

Using Your Business Blog to Your Advantage

So you know that negative comments are to be expected and you have an idea on how to deal with them, but how exactly can you use your business blog to build or enhance your online reputation? Here are some tips:

1. Separate Your Blog from Your Official Website

You may have noticed some websites with a designated web page for their blog.  This may come with a number of advantages. We would advise you, however, to set up your blog not as a web page on your business website, but as either a sub-domain or a completely different website. One huge advantage of this strategy in terms of online reputation is that the blog will have a separate rank from your website in SERPs.

If both your website and blog rank well, your chances of being deemed an authority in your niche is significantly increased. If one of these sites suffers in SERP rankings, you can use the other site to improve both rankings. Of course, even if your blog is set up as a separate website, you should still link it to your business website in some way. After all, the primary purpose of the blog is to help you grow your business. It is best to choose a domain for your blog that’s similar or at least related to your website. The blog itself should reflect your brand’s personality and deliver your brand message.

2. Schedule Your Posts

One of the most important considerations in maintaining a good blog is the number of posts you make within a given period of time. If you let too much time pass from one post to the next, your readers are likely to lose interest after their first few visits. On the other hand, posting too often could result in information overload, which may turn-off many readers as well. You need to find the perfect balance in scheduling your posts. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by creating an editorial calendar, which contains the topics you plan to discuss in your blog and the specific dates of posting for each topic.

In general, it is advisable to publish one or two blog posts each week. Having an editorial calendar help you ensure that you’re neither posting too seldom nor too often. It also helps keep you in tune with your brand message and prevents you from writing about the same topic with the same approach more than once. Remember that while people appreciate getting regular updates from your blog, they are likely to lose interest if you keep covering the same topics and you don’t even bother to write from a different perspective.

3. Ensure Content Quality

The content itself is, of course, a very important consideration when you’re managing your reputation online through a blog. You’ll know your blog post is of high quality if:

-        It is targeted to a specific audience.

-        It is well-written.

-        It is original.

-        It is relevant to the needs of the targeted audience.

-        It is highly informative.

-        It effectively engages the target audience.

-        It contains fresh and up-to-date information.

If your blog posts are always of high quality, there’s a good chance your blog readers will share it with others, thus helping you promote your blog for free. When your blog’s popularity increases, your SERP rankings will likely increase as well. This, in turn, could lead to significant growth for your business.

4. Get to Know Your Audience

As mentioned earlier, negative feedback can hurt your reputation, so it’s important to avoid it as much as you can. One effective way of doing this is to get to know your audience really well. If you have a good grasp of their sensibilities and their interests, you’ll be better able to tailor your blog posts accordingly. This doesn’t mean you should refrain from publishing thought-provoking posts on your blog, only that you should make sure your posts are well-suited to your audience’s tastes.

Connect

Connecting with your audience and getting to know them well helps ensure that the blog posts you publish are well-suited to their tastes.

It is also advisable for you to respond to comments on your blog posts, especially if those comments are well-crafted and thought-provoking. Be sure to take the time to carefully read the comment and understand the intent behind it so you can respond accordingly. Not only does this help you in getting to know your audience, but it also sends the message that you regularly monitor your blog and are genuinely interested in your readers’ opinions. When you make people feel important, they will likely develop a high regard for you.

5. Be Careful with Keywords

I mentioned earlier that your blog posts should always be in tune with your brand message. This means they need to revolve around a general theme of sorts. Keywords can be very useful tools for delivering your brand message through your blog posts. It may be a good idea to include a keyword or two within each post. Other than connecting your post to your brand message, the keywords can also increase your post’s relevance where search engines are concerned.

Remember, though, that the keywords shouldn’t be the main focus of your blog post. You should also refrain from stuffing one post with too many keywords (again, one or two will suffice). Keywords should only be used when they are closely related to the topic you’re discussing and in a manner that won’t be deemed awkward by your readers.

6. Filter Comments

Needless to say, you need to keep your blog comments well under control to make sure none of them cause irreparable damage to your reputation. It has been said earlier that you need to remove malicious comments as well as complaints made just for the sake of complaining. You need to be very careful in removing blog comments, though. Refrain from doing so simply because they put your business in a bad light, as that may give your readers the impression that you’re overly sensitive.

Remember that negative comments can still help you build a good reputation if you handle them well. Just make sure you remove only those comments that malign you without basis and the ones that have no substance at all.

7. Reference

Each new blog post should reference at least one of your web pages. This could be an older blog post with related content, one of your social networking pages, a related article on your official website, or even a different blog where your business is mentioned in a positive light. This increases the likelihood of your blog readers finding out more about your business when they check out your various online accounts as well as websites that talk about your brand.

If you’re truly lucky, this strategy may even convince readers to visit your official website and start patronizing not just your blog, but your products/services as well. The more people learn about you, the greater your popularity will likely be. The more popular you become, the easier it will be to manage your online reputation, as you will now have more people who can defend you against those malicious naysayers.

You should never make the mistake of underestimating the power of a business blog. This is especially true when you’re looking for effective ways of giving your online reputation management strategy a boost. A blog can effectively enhance your reputation, both in terms of getting better SERP rankings and earning the appreciation and loyalty of your target market. Maintaining a blog may come with a number of pitfalls, but if you learn how to properly meet each challenge that comes your way, this can be the best way for you to earn and keep a solid reputation.

Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver company that provides effective SEO services to businesses across North America. If you would like to invite the author to write on your blog too please contact www.pitstopmedia.com

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