“Reputation management” is a term that is used to describe a variety of activities related to monitoring and management of online presence and reputation. Reputation management is important for organic ranking in search engines, because it helps generate more links to your site. It is also important because most people research purchasing decisions online before visiting a store. How visible you are and how you are being talked about will have a direct impact on your sales.
From a local business standpoint, reputation management activities include:
- Review monitoring and negative review mitigation
- Monitoring of brand name mentions on other sites
- Management of business listing information on directories and local search sites
Some of the tools below help with all of these activities, and others are specialized to just one. The tools listed here were selected out of several dozen that we reviewed. To make the final cut, a tool had to be useful, easy-to-use and free. If you have a favorite that we didn’t include, please comment below.
Quickly search social media for mentions of your brand or related keywords with SocialMention
SocialMention searches a variety of social media sources to provide a comprehensive view of how you are being talked about in social media. The interface makes it very easy to drill down into specific channels such as blogs, Twitter, photo sharing sites, etc. You can also set up alerts to notify you of new mentions. One drawback is that it is not locally-focused at all, so it may not work as well for you if your business name is used elsewhere on the web. I did get quite a few false positives when trying various local business names. By “false positive” I mean a mention of your business name that is not actually referring to your business. This is a common setback of monitoring tools, particularly if your business name is not particularly unique. SocialMention is also a great tool for monitoring keywords that are topically relevant to your business.
Grow your online network with HootSuite
Hootsuite is for general-purpose social media management versus reputation management specifically, but it is remarkably feature-rich for a free tool. And monitoring is only useful if you can add people to your network and engage in conversations, which is what HootSuite is all about. You can use the tool to monitor wall posts in Facebook, @replies in Twitter and various other social network activities. You can also post and schedule updates in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and several other networks. And if you have a blog, you can have Hootsuite automatically push new blog post notifications to your networks via RSS integration. You can also set up HootSuite to monitor for keyword mentions in Twitter.
Make sure you are showing up with GetListed.org
GetListed.org is a simple, easy-to-use tool for checking to see if you are listed in major local directory sites. It shows whether your business is listed in Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo and Best of Web and indicates whether the listing has been claimed. It has links to get signed up, and tips for how to optimize your listings.
Get a dashboard view of your online business presence with Marchex Reputation Management
This one may not be free for long, but it is right now. Of the tools listed here, Marchex is perhaps the most powerful from a local business standpoint, though Yext Rep is pretty comparable. The tool provides a dashboard view of reviews of your business, mentions of your business and listings in several major directories. To find mentions, they have indexed a great number of locally-oriented sites, and show fewer false positives than any of the other tools I tried. I also like the clean, intuitive user interface, and their help section has great tips for local businesses.
Manage conversations and monitor your listings with Yext Rep
Yext Rep and Marchex Reputation Management are similar in many respects, so you will probably want to choose one or the other. Yext Rep is brand new, but given how powerful it is now, it could quickly lead the pack if Yext continues to add features. In comparison to Marchex, Yext Rep monitors more directory sites for listings, but fewer local media publishers for mentions. And while Marchex provides an analytical view of your business presence, Yext Rep provides a more conversational view. Mentions show up very much like the status stream in Facebook and Twitter, and you can reply to some networks directly from the Yext Rep interface. I recommend giving both a try and seeing which you prefer.
Honorable mention: Google Alerts
Google Alerts is not quite as easy-to-use as the other tools mentioned here, but it is a very powerful tool for monitoring of brand or other keyword mentions. Here is a post I did a couple of months ago describing how to use Google Alerts for monitoring: Reputation Management: 1% Perspiration, 99% Google Alerts
A few other related blog posts: