Brand Reputation – The Life and Death of Web Hosting


Tag Archives: Online Reputation Management

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Brand Reputation – The Life and Death of Web Hosting

In today’s world where almost every brand and entrepreneur has been given the opportunity to conduct business on a global level, and where hundreds and thousands of companies are going after the same customers – even the smallest of things can make or break your brand.

This is especially true in web hosting.

The devil is truly in the details here.

Web hosting is an overcrowded scene where a lot of companies offer similar services. Or so it seems like that at first glance.

If you offer web hosting services for a living, you already know how difficult it can be to attract and retain customers.

All sorts of different factors come into play here.

The biggest one of all – trust.

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People don’t trust providers with their data.

Why? – Well, because the stakes are high. No one wants to expose themselves to any risk that could end up costing them their business. There isn’t a single soul in the world that would be ok with losing important data thanks to the incompetence of a certain hosting provider.

Even though a lot of the people from the industry tend to think of this as paranoid behavior, I kinda get it.

While there are a lot of web hosts that truly offer a reputable and upstanding service, there are also ones whose practices are poisoning the industry. Dated hardware, bad network, uneducated and unresponsive support – these are just some of the main traits of terrible hosting companies that harm their customers beyond repair.

Even though the choice of where to host your data is critical to the success of your website, a lot of people face extreme difficulties here. When choosing the right provider and package for their website, most inexperienced customers tend to get a bit confused. They aren’t really able to tell the difference between a good and bad hosting companies, so they turn to the Web looking for answers.

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Even though this sort of behavior is something that should be applauded, when it comes to web hosting – things tend to get a bit tricky.

Why? – Well, because, you don’t really know if the content you’re reading is based on facts or fiction. You don’t know if a certain testimonial is written by an angry customer or a just another yes-man.

Confused?

Don’t be. Let me explain.

Trustworthy or Not – The Constant Battle

Owning a business these days demands crafting a serious and reliable online presence for yourself and your brand. It doesn’t really matter what you do or sell, today’s consumers turn to the Web to browse and shop for goods and services.

Before they even start to consider a certain provider as a possible home for their website, a lot of people first browse through tons and tons of content. They read all these reviews in order to figure out which hosting brand offers the best quality/price ratio for their needs. Next to that, they read to learn what their customers are saying. Before completing an order, people first want to know how good does a certain web host treat its customers, is their network stable, what does the brand do to ensure the safety of user data, etc.

That’s why a lot of companies invest in content these days. They do everything in their power to create and publish material that has the power to answer their shopper’s questions and influence them to make desired decisions.

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It has become pretty clear to every single provider out there that he (or she) needs to do everything and anything in his power if he’s interested in staying active and relevant on this overly-populated and price competitive market.

There are no cutting corners here anymore. Every little thing you miss can come back to bite you on your behind. If you fail to make something work for you, you can rest assure that your competitors won’t. They will instantly recognize your weaknesses and turn them against you in order to push you out of the picture and win over your customers.

Despite how many links they create, or how many great posts they publish all over the Web – web hosts still need to closely monitor their user satisfaction and instantly act if things start to go south with any of their customers.

One Bad Review Can Cost You More Than You Think

Online reputation is everything in web hosting. It takes a lot of time and effort to build it, but it can also be ruined in a matter of seconds. It’s a tricky game that requires an open mind and a will to always go that extra mile. It doesn’t really matter if you spend days, weeks, months gathering great customer testimonials – one bad review can cost you a lot of new sales!

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It doesn’t really matter what’s the story behind a certain review, bad reputation isn’t something that can just be left alone or ignored. It harms your business on all sorts of different levels:

1.It affects your ability to make more sales;
2. It drives the top talent away from your brand;
3. It ruins your market value;
4. It discredits the overall quality of your products and services.

The list goes on and on. That’s why it’s always important to immediately act on the problem at hand.

Reputation management is something that demands your constant attention. Like I said above – everything is in the details. Regardless of how good you treat your customers, you can still find yourself in situations where you have to read some terrible review about you and your business.

How come? – Well, because, reputation is a volatile thing that exists in the minds of others. Even though you do everything right, there’s still a chance that a certain client won’t be satisfied with your service.

When it comes to web hosting, a variety of different factors can affect your reputation, many of which have nothing to do with the way on how you run your business or treat your customers.

Regardless of the fact if the customer’s reasons for disliking your service are reasonable or not, he (or she) is still entitled to his (or her) opinion. He has the right to write anything he wants about your business online, and you cannot do really anything about it, except try to win him over.

So, how can we do that? How do people turn the negative into a positive? How to get people to once again see the value in doing business with you?

There are a lot of different practices web hosting brands use to fix their reputation problem, here are just a couple of ones that have proven to be good for us:

1. Show your Customers that You Care

Even though a lot of hosting companies deal with negative reviews and comments on daily basis, most of them don’t really try to talk to the people that publicly disliked their business. They don’t even try to reach out and discuss the problem at hand with their dissatisfied current or past user.

Instead of that, they get really annoyed and start basically a war with the person who wrote bad things about them on the Web.

This is a terrible thing to do.

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Be sure to take a minute to really review what you’re going to say. Remember, your goal here isn’t really to defend yourself – you’re trying to resolve a certain problem.

I know this seems a bit odd, but all most people want is to be heard and acknowledged. If you address your troubled clients concerns in a respectable and professional way, show him (or her) that you care, throw in a gift for their troubles, and really do your best to make things right again – 7 out of 10 users will delete their previous comment and continue to host their business on your servers.

2. Create More Sites for Your Business, Own Related Domains

If you politely approach the person who wrote a bad review about your brand and he (or she) still won’t take it down, you need to take things to the next level. You need to create some other domains and websites for your business.

Why? – Well, because, creating a crop of new website with your brand name in their domain will help you overpopulate Google’s SERP with results that you want your current and potential customers to see when googling your business. This sort of thing will flush all those negative comments to the 2nd or 3rd page of SERP, which are, as practice has shown, rarely visited by searchers.

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Naturally, don’t forget to create your Wikipedia page and accounts on all popular social media networks. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Vimeo, YouTube, Quora – all these sites are known to end up high in SERP almost immediately, so be sure to truly invest your time, money, and efforts into making them really work for you.

Also, be sure to claim your local profiles, local directory listings, and create your online business cards on such sites like about.me and dooid.me, because they rank high in Google’s eyes.

3. Blog Your Way to Success – Harness the Power of Google+ Authorship and Google Direct Connect

As I already said dozens of times on this site – blogging is important. Especially to small-medium sized businesses which are looking to make it big online. Apart from generating new links on your website, increasing your website traffic, conquering relevant keyword searches, improving your SEO, and showcasing your worth in front of your desired crowd – blogging can easily help you create leads and win over new customers.

How? – By building trust between you and your customers.

A lot of brands really invest in this department. Especially guest blogging.

Why? – Well, because guest blogging gives great writers the opportunity to showcase their knowledge on other party’s credible site, and thus – expand their network, win new leads, and build up their online reputation.

Blogs create a lot of links and that’s why they’re always rated really high in Google’s SERP.  They can give your sales and ORM a really big boost if you leverage them right. That’s why I do my best to blog on all sorts of different domains.

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If you, like me, want to rank a few blogs for your name, all you have to do is create them, and link them to your Google+ profile via Google authorship. When linking your domains together, make sure that your name is in the SEO title of the main blog. But, if you truly want to make this work for your company, if you truly want to leverage the power of blogging and bury all the unwanted reviews about your business way down in SERP – you should ask a few of your best employees to start blogs with your company name in their title.

4. SEO the Hell Out of Your Good Property

If you want something to rank. You need to build backlinks for it.  

That’s SEO 101.

I do my best to find all sorts of different ways on how to interconnect all my good content and give people the opportunity to easily come into contact with my best work. The same goes for Google.

5. Do Interviews

Podcasts, webinars, citations, blog posts – agree to everything! Regardless of the format in which they make it online, interviews are great reputation builders. Especially if they’re hosted on high-authority domain sites or credible news sources.

Why? – Well, because, apart from the obvious SEO reasons – they’re all about you and your business. You’re the star of the show. Everything is in your and your interlocutor’s hands. You have the chance to represent your business in the best way possible on a site, online magazine, blog, or news portal that generates some serious traffic. Apart from that, interviews gather a certain number of readers who could easily become your new customers.

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The part when a certain website owner or editor includes your name, position, and brand in a text, and publishes it on his site – that’s heaven for your business online. This type of content automatically ranks well in Google’s eyes.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you have anything to ask or add about online reputation management – be sure to write what’s on your mind in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as I find the time!

That’s it for now,
See you soon again,
Goran @ AltusHost B.V.

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How to Handle Bad PR Online Like a Pro

PR is probably one of the hardest things to maintain in your company. It is a mix of smart marketing, planning, but also common sense. The simplest definition of public relations is to create and maintain a certain reputation about your company or a single person, e.g. you, in the eyes of the public. While this may seem like a straightforward thing, there are so many factors that can easily turn this into a living nightmare.

While the saying “there is no negative publicity” might be true for celebrities who have to put up with tabloids examining every inch of their lives, the same cannot be said about big organizations and businesses. Just imagine how much money companies like Coca-Cola put into creating an image that their product keeps your family and friends together; and now, imagine how the company would react to bad PR. It would launch an array of different strategies to minimize the damage, prevent it from spreading, and it would go so far as to admit a mistake and ask for forgiveness.

So, while bad PR is the stuff most marketing strategists’ nightmares are made of, there a couple of guidelines that can help you diffuse the situation.

Here Be Internet Trolls

Fun fact: internet is not a nice place

Do not poke the trolls, do not talk to them, and do not even look at their general direction. The more you try to fight it, the angrier they get, and the more damage they can do to your business. Use that time in a much smarter way, examine what happened, find if there was something that you could have done to prevent it, and try to think of a way to repair the situation. You can recognize trolls – users who actively seek conflict, all from the comfort of their anonymity. If you do need to respond to such a user, be polite, use facts, and do not let the trolls drag you down to their level – that is what they want.

Don’t Hide

At least be smart about it

There is a difference between refraining from engaging trolls, and coming up with a suitable response. In case something bad happened to you, there is no need to hide it. This is the internet for crying out loud; everything can be found out with a few clicks, so in a situation like that, failure to respond will only be seen as admitting the blame. Once again, this does not mean that you need to engage each and every online comment, but be selective and choose the fights where you can at least have a fair battleground, which brings us to the next point.

Pick Your Fights

Sometimes it’s just easier to run away

If you are up against someone who is clearly much stronger than you, more influential or simply has some kind of bigger advantage – you should rethink your strategy. You can only lose what you have and it won’t be pretty. A good example of this is for a popular journalist to have a bad experience with you, and after writing about it, you are faced with an army of his readers. How should you engage this? Slowly, diplomatically – only after you’ve asked for a chance. Send an email asking for a rebuttal and appeal to their common sense. Ask to explain what happened and apologize. That will only make you look mature, serious, and above all – trustworthy. The worst thing you can do is to let your emotions run wild and post something on Facebook that you will soon regret.

Know Everything

She’s telling the truth

If a situation suddenly appears, like we’ve said previously, take your time to understand it completely. The better you understand what happened, the better response you can prepare. Be sure that you are right; trying to spin something can easily end up all in your face… it has happened before. It is much better to offer an honest “I don’t know” or a sincere apology than having to eat your own words a few days later.

Listen to All

A big company should always be watching

Even if you determine that some stuff you read online is not worthy of a response, you should always be listening to feedback. A small mistake can happen once or twice, but more than that can show a crucial error hidden somewhere deeper. This is not important because of any PR situation, but because of the PR situations that could happen. Examine everything you read about your company, and after a while, if you notice a pattern, you will be able to respond much better or maybe you’ll be able to prevent disasters from happening.

Build Confidence

Confidence is the key

If you hear a few complaints here and there, use it to your advantage. Is your customer expressing dissatisfaction online? Respond and offer to solve any problem, free of charge. This will not only fix their problem and leave them happy, but it will give you good PR. A bad experience can spread quickly online, but so can a good one. You never know what might happen. Always try and behave as you would like to be treated. Be public about it, and do not try to hide it. Be proud that you are human, that mistakes happen, but also that you are willing to examine and correct them.

Confess

You don’t have to be as dramatic as Adele

In the end, if something really bad did happen, and there is nothing you can do – then you must confess and simply be at the mercy of the public. Even this can be used to your advantage; it will show you as a human being, someone who is not always right. It is a much better plan than denial since this will at least prevent people from trying to questions your motives. Ignoring something bad that has happened won’t make it go away, but being sincere about it just might.

If you have to swallow a frog, don’t look at it for too long – just do it quickly, like taking off a bandage. This will also make the dust settle, and your critics will be left without all the juicy drama to feed on – and they will eventually move on.

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