— June 20, 2017
All of us in the modern world, from individuals to businesses to public organizations, have two identities: the one that exists in real life, and the one that lives online. Your online reputation can be fickle, plummeting overnight faster than a dissatisfied customer can strike the “submit” button on a review site. These internet reputation statistics will help you better understand the online landscape so that you can focus your resources in the directions that matter most.
Now, more than ever, people look to the internet to get information and formulate opinions on people and businesses. With few users perusing below the top three results that pop up in a search query, first impressions are even more important online than in real life. Miss your chance to make a positive impact off the bat and you may never get another opportunity.
In light of the internet’s power to make or break your reputation, here are eight of the most significant online reputation management statistics –– and advice for how you can use this information to better shape your image.
Across the world, people turn to search engines first.
The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 64 percent of global respondents trust online search engines the most when conducting research on a business. In fact, the study found that the internet was unanimously voted as the first source of information for general business information, news, or to confirm or validate rumors. Alternatively, trust in traditional forms of media has dropped.
Your search engine image goes beyond your ranking on the page. Even the “auto-complete” responses that pop up in Google can give new customers pause –– or inspire them to learn more about you. It’s important to think (and search) like your customers would in order to determine what your online presence is really saying about you.
Google controls 78% of search engine traffic.
Google controls 77.98% of desktop search traffic with Bing trailing far behind at just 7.81%, according to data from Net Market Share.
Each search engine has its own unique algorithm that determines your relevancy, authority, and utlimately, your ranking for a given search query. The nuances of the algorithms are largely unknown (and the search engines make sure to keep it that way), but your best bet is to focus your efforts on improving your ranking with Google. That being said, you can’t quite ignore the other search engines –– 7.81% might seem like a small number, but not when you consider just how many people are searching on a daily basis.
91% of North American consumers read online reviews to learn about a business.
For better or for worse, most consumers are checking out Google Reviews, Yelp, and other customer feedback systems to get more information on businesses, says the most recent BrightLocal Consumer Review survey. Consumers often take into account what other people write about a brand, product, or service to determine if it’s a “good” business or not.
If reviews are overwhelmingly positive, the survey reports that 74% of consumers have greater trust in the organization. On the other hand, 60% of respondents said that negative reviews made them not want to use a business. Those with mostly 1- or 2-star reviews fail to convert 86% of prospective customers –– a major loss, especially for startups, who need the initial momentum to get going.
The report also shows that consumers are getting better at sorting the real reviews from the fake, and they’re more likely to take a recent review seriously than an older one. Consumers will catch on when businesses hire people to write fake reviews, or resort to other automated, non-organic means of cultivating a positive reputation. Only authentic reviews will do.
Wikipedia ranks on the front page for more than 50% of all keywords.
Because it’s one of the most frequented and (increasingly) trusted websites around, any inaccurate or negative information about you on Wikipedia is a major reputation risk. A Stone Temple report states that a Wikipedia page is in the top ten search listings for over half of all searches conducted, so a reputation management strategy should always have a Wikipedia plan woven into it.
Online reputation impacts both jobseekers and companies looking to recruit.
Social recruiting is on the rise in HR departments, having grown 54% in the past five years, according to a report from SHRM. And while a majority of social recruiting is done through LinkedIn (73% of companies consider it the most effective site for finding qualified candidates), it’s not just job-specific sites that companies are looking at –– 66% report that they recruit through Facebook and 53% recruit through Twitter. As the statistics suggest, most recruit through more than one of these sites.
With hiring managers spending more time online in the search for potential candidates, it’s inevitable they’ll come across anything negative or incriminating if it exists. This means that your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube pages need to be as polished and professional as your LinkedIn page if you’re going to appeal to hiring managers.
Jobseekers aren’t the only ones affected by the increased reliance on social media –– it flows the other way, too. According to a Corporate Responsibility Magazine / Allegis Group Services survey, 69% of jobseekers would turn down an offer from a company with a weak online reputation, even if they were unemployed. Keeping a positive, professional social buzz around your brand –– whether it’s your business or personal identity –– can open, or shut, doors for you.
Social media content strongly influences buyer decisions.
It used to be dominated by young people, but now those of all ages are active on social media. According to Pew Research, 69% of adults now use at least one social media site, a number that’s dramatically increased over the past decade (it was just 5% in 2005).
There is conflicting information about whether consumers are more likely to share positive or negative experiences on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms (research suggests it’s about equal), but one thing is certain: people pay close attention to social posts from friends. And with the average consumer mentioning brands 90 times a week to their friends, family, and co-workers, you can never underestimate the necessity of providing positive experiences. The ripple effect caused by social media and its ability to broadcast personal experiences to a large number of people places extreme importance on social media monitoring as part of your reputation management plan.
Distributing excellent content is just as important as getting rid of the bad stuff.
According to a 2014 LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community report, the top three things that make content effective are audience relevance, engaging storytelling, and writing that inspires action. Simply nixing the bad content won’t do –– you have to push out quality content to capture customer attention and keep your brand image positive and relevant.
An article by Newscred sheds light on some interesting truths about the importance of creating enriched or personalized content marketing through both SEO and PPC avenues. This includes the fact that brand development relies heavily on your ability to reach customers with compelling content through a number of channels. In other words, just sticking with paid advertising won’t get you very far. Instead, skyrocket your online reputation by reaching out to internet users intelligently and across as many channels as possible.
Don’t be intimidated by the ever-changing landscape of human behavior online. With an eye on the trends in user behavior and an experienced reputation management partner supporting you, you can cultivate ongoing trust and respect for your online identity –– and, as a result, your offline one, too.