In the local business marketplace online reputation management is an important marketing strategy.
The online reputation of any business goes further than just a few reviews on Google and Yelp.
At some point every business will run into a customer service issue.
The goal is to resolve things before an angry or annoyed customer leaves a negative review for your business.
Online reviews need to be considered as modern-day referrals so it’s important to manage your business reputation effectively.
As long as you have a plan in place for how to handle criticisms and negative reviews of your company, one or two isn’t going to make much of a difference.
However, taking negative reviews personally instead of looking at them as helpful advice can do more harm than good.
Yes, Google and other search engines take reviews into consideration when ranking business websites for local searches.
Negative reviews, especially those that occur regularly, will have a negative impact on your search engine rankings resulting in less leads, sales, and a loss on future clients/customers.
That’s why reputation management needs to be an integral part of your small business marketing strategy.
Helpful Tips for Online Reputation Management
In this post let’s take a look at how small businesses can use online reviews and reputation management to their advantage.
We’ll also dive into how to deal with negative reviews for your business.
Tip #1 – Build a Strong Online Web Presence on Relevant Properties
At the bare minimum your business needs to be set up on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+) and should be included in local directories.
In highly competitive local markets you’ll have to focus more on developing your profiles on social and directory platforms.
It’s also important to set your business up with a dedicated Facebook page and an optimized Google My Business page.
This is one of the first steps in starting to get reviews for your business online – especially with Google My Business (the best platform for most businesses).
Tip #2 – Be Active on Social Media
Building out your social media accounts and actively using them has a few benefits for reputation management.
These platforms allow you to interact with your customers and learn more about their habits and problems.
Engaging with these people online is great for branding and can influence other users to consider your product or services.
Social media profiles also send ranking signals to Google where the algorithm assesses the strength of your social media accounts.
While posting on Facebook isn’t going to propel your website to the number one spot, every little bit helps.
You don’t want to overlook even the smallest strategies, especially in highly competitive industries.
With how affordable it is to outsource your social media management there’s no reason why your business can’t have a powerful online social presence.
Tip #3 – Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Check out my post on how to optimize your Google My Business listing for more information.
It’s surprising to me how many businesses ignore their presence on Google Maps and in the 3-pack results.
The businesses that are utilizing Google My Business to its full potential are reaping the benefits.
With Google My Business information about your business shows up on the Google search results.
Search engine users are more likely to click on businesses that already have reviews and an optimized My Business profile.
It’s also possible to add images and videos to your listing – media that helps with personalizing your brand.
Even businesses without a location that accepts customers can benefit from having a Google My Business profile.
Google uses the information from the GMB profiles and matches it with the contact information (Name-Address-Phone number) on your small business website.
If it doesn’t match, or if it’s not available at all, you’re going to have more trouble ranking compared to businesses using this platform.
Another problem with ignoring the GMB is that you’re not able to respond to reviews, either negative or positive.
Businesses need to be replying to every review that people leave.
This helps to increase engagement and shows potential customers that you’re willing to interact with them even after a purchase has been made.
One more benefit of having an optimized GMB profile is choosing the specific categories for your business listings.
How does this benefit your business?
Google uses the categories to display relevant businesses to search engine users.
If you’re not using any categories, or using the wrong ones, your business website won’t show up in the right searches.
Tip #4 – Start Asking for Reviews
The best way to get reviews for your business is to ask for them!
Send your past customers emails, mentioned leaving a review to your clients in person, and always try to get people to share their experience online.
There’s no reason to feel uncomfortable asking customers for reviews.
Other search engine users will appreciate the additional information that allows them to make a more informed decision.
When you’re starting out, one or two bad reviews can heavily impact your rankings.
That’s why it’s important to constantly be generating new reviews – as long as you’re providing a quality service or product.
This is strategy works well with Google reviews and for your business Facebook page.
People are using these platforms regularly and it doesn’t take much time out of their day to leave a review for your business.
Tip #5 – Reply to Every Review (Even Negative Ones)
Time to reply to every review that a customer or client leaves.
It’s important that you even reply to negative reviews with a positive mindset.
Use the information in negative reviews to improve your business or streamline your customer service experience.
While short negative reviews might be hurtful, it’s the long and detailed negative ones that you can use to your advantage.
For the most part, people aren’t out to harm or slander your business.
With the negative experiences, something must have happened that cause of the individual to be bad review – factors you can continually improve on.
Please resist the urge to respond defensively, emotionally, and angrily, or in any way that isn’t professional, positive, and polite.
An insulting and angry reply can severely harm a business, especially if it goes viral on social media.
Tip #6 – Work With an Online Reputation Management Specialist
As a small business owner you probably barely have enough time to run every aspect of your business, let alone worrying about reputation management.
This aspect of small business marketing requires significant attention.
From actively monitoring your business name to following a regular posting schedule across all platforms, reputation management is time-consuming and tedious.
Thankfully, unlike small business SEO services, reputation management is a reasonable expense.
Working with an ORM specialist means you can focus on what matters most – growing your business and generating more revenue.
Even if you’re not suffering from existing reputation problems, working with a specialist can help to protect you from future issues.
Need help with your small business reputation management strategy? Don’t hesitate to contact me today so we can discuss what you need. I’d love to help!
Tip #7 – Implement a New Social Media Strategy
Social media can be a powerful tool in generating leads and new business opportunities when used correctly.
There’s more to social media than sharing photos and posting your opinions on a trending topic.
With how much time people are spending on different social media platforms, these are amazing avenues to connect with potential customers or clients.
Use your different social media platforms to post announcements and share information depositions your company as an industry leader.
Reach out to people and demonstrate how your company can add value to their lives.
Platforms like Instagram and YouTube are great for generating interest around your product or service.
It’s easier than ever to connect with people with problems that your business is able to solve.
Tip #8 – Develop a Blogging Strategy
Blogging regularly (2 to 3 times per week) is a great way to build and improve your online reputation.
The content you share on your small business blog gives readers the opportunity to learn more about your brand, your business, and your products or services.
Blogs also give consumers a chance to share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions about your business.
If you’re not able to create your own content it’s easy to outsource the content creation (feel free to contact me if you’re looking for a blog writer).
Some of the other benefits of small business blogging include:
- More local visitors from search engines
- Better website rankings (more traffic)
- Easy to share announcements, new features, and new products/services
- Improved branding and brand recognition
- Helps to establish your business as an industry leader
At the bare minimum you should be posting one blog post every week.
Blogging is a great strategy to generate new business leads as well as to improve your online reputation.