The world of online reviews, ratings and rankings can be quite confusing. It is not alway clear who, which or what is talking about what, which or whom—and whether it actually matters. On this page, you will find tips and tools that can help you with the process.

How do I monitor and protect my reputation?

On the web, it can be difficult to track what is said about onself. Luckily, there is a range of (more or less free) tools available that can help you monitor what is going on. While an increasing number of PR consultants offer reputation services, there are some things you can do without a big budget.

The Feedback Library

Looking for news, research and other information about feedback schemes? Have a look at the feedback library.

  • Google yourself: An obvious thing to do, but usually a good start. Type your name or brand name into one of the major search engines and have a look at the first page of results.
  • Google Alerts: Receive an e-mail every time a certain keyword has entered Google’s index. For example, you could use your own name and be notified whenever it pops up in a blog post or website.
  • Rank Checker: This Firefox browser extension allows you to check your search engine rankings for different keywords. Requires registration with SEOBooks.
  • TrackMeNot: Another Firefox browser extension that can protect you from surveillance and data-profiling by search engines. It does so by drowning one’s actual web searches in a cloud of ‘fake’ queries conducted by the plug-in.
  • Ghostery: When you install this piece of software with your browser and visit a page, Ghostery scans it for scripts, pixels and other elements and notifies you of the companies whose code is present on the page. You can then learn about these companies and even block certain elements from loading.

How do I respond to negative feedback?

Responding to postings – especially critical ones – is not easy. It often takes some thought and, like everything, we all improve with practice. Here are some ideas from the experts at Patient Opinion. They have been helping people to respond to online feedback for a while now and share their insights with examples below.

  • Empathy and understanding: Showing you care about someone’s experience – good or bad – is at the heart of a good response. The web is an informal place, and your responses can be too. Try using ‘I’ rather than ‘we’, and adding the occasional real name makes your responses more human and web-friendly. You might find this example useful.
  • Apologising: Sometimes, apologising for a poor experience is just the right thing to do, even if you’re not sure “who’s to blame”. Have a look at this response from the Patient Opinion website, where Wendy Pickard at NHS Bolton finds the right words.
  • Explaining what normally happens or why things happen: It might help to explain what normally happens or why things happen in a certain way – to help everyone better understand your organisational processes as in this case.
  • Saying what you will do with the feedback: Whether it’s as simple as talking to staff about the feedback, right through to changing the way you do things – this is your chance to let everyone know what you do with feedback.
  • Giving a short response followed by a fuller one: It might be hard to post a full response without some time to find out more about the issue. It is fine to post a “holding response” followed by another later.

How can I better understand what search engines do?

There are a number of resources that can help you understand and make the best of your search experience: