Simplifying SEO for Local Businesses

Local SEO isn’t as complicated as you may think

Being visible online isn’t something any local should take lightly in this day and age, and there are two basic ways to ensure that your website is visible online — paid ads and organic results. Paid search ads are a great way to get your name out there when you’re just starting out, but when you’ve dominated the organic search results, you’ll save money with each and every lead that you get.

SEO (search engine optimization) is all about increasing both the quality and the quantity of the organic traffic that your website gets from search engines. And it’s something that every local business should think about. After all, a business that learns how to dominate local search results through SEO not only saves money on paid search ads but also benefits from better, more qualified traffic to their website.

As important as SEO is, it’s often an overlooked piece of the online reputation management puzzle for many business owners. That’s because SEO can seem like an overly complicated thing, and while it’s true that it takes time and hard work, it’s actually a lot more simple than you probably think.

The basics of SEO for local businesses

Keyword research

Keywords are what people type into Google, Bing or other search engines to find the topic they’re searching for. Identifying the appropriate keywords to optimize your website for is done through keyword research, and it’s the first — and arguably the most important — aspect of your entire SEO strategy. The bottom line is that you need to be able to identify which terms you want your website to rank for, and once you do, you’ll be able to base the entire rest of your SEO strategy off of it.

The keywords you choose will have a direct impact on both the quantity of the traffic your website gets and the quality of that traffic. Choosing broader, more general keywords will mean more competition, and choosing irrelevant keywords will hurt your ranking and diminish the quality of your organic leads.

Learn all about how to find the best keywords for your business.

Content

If you’ve talked to many people who work in digital marketing, there’s a common saying about SEO you’ve probably heard — “content is king.” Everything in SEO has to do with content, and it’s one of the easiest and also one of the most challenging aspects of SEO for local business owners.

The good news is that SEO won’t require you to have a whole lot of technical knowledge or marketing savvy, but the bad news is that it requires you to create original, high-quality content on your website, social platforms and beyond on a regular basis. That can be daunting for business owners who may not exactly think of themselves as writers or already have an over-flowing schedule to contend with.

Luckily, Google doesn’t expect every business owner to be Hemingway, but they do expect them to create content that adds value. And for the benefit of your website’s SEO, that content should be built around your keyword research. Keep in mind that it’s more important to use keywords naturally than it is to force them into your content as many times as possible.

As a business owner, you have a lot of knowledge about your industry that the average consumer does not, and a great strategy is to use that knowledge to create content for your website. Tips, how-to articles and client testimonials are the perfect things to put in your blog.

It’s important to know that content isn’t just text. There are many different types of content that should be added to your website, and when optimized correctly, videos and photos can be valuable commodities when it comes to organic rankings.

Not many businesses think of them this way, but reviews are actually another type of content that can help a business rank higher organically in the SERP, and the best part about reviews is that you don’t have to write them yourself! Google also weighs what other people say about your business more heavily than what you say about yourself, and reviews can be a major benefit for your SEO.

In addition to adding content to your website consistently, posting on social media should be a regular part of your SEO strategy. Excerpts from blogs on your site, tips and tricks, photos of your team and client testimonials are just a few examples of the kind of content that works well on social media.

Links

The other major aspect of SEO is link building. Link acquisition can be challenging, and it will take a solid investment of time and hard work to achieve it. One of the most straightforward ways to acquire it is to email website owners directly, and ask if they would allow you to publish a guest post on their blog.

Contacting website owners directly is just one aspect of earning links; you also need to have link-worthy pages on your website to link to. What makes a page linkable? Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to determine linkability:

  • Is the content useful? – Link-worthy pages are informative and useful. How-to guides, advice and concept explanations are just a few examples of the kind of pages that are linkable.
  • Is the content original? – In order for a page to be link-worthy, it can’t have the same information that’s available everywhere else. Use your industry expertise by taking a new perspective on something, or share original data or research to create link-worthy content.
  • Is the content entertaining? – There are a lot of ways to make an impact with your content, but the best way is by creating content that entertains. Humorous content, as well as interactive content, like quizzes or games, can be very entertaining and link-worthy.

In general, the most linkable pages appeal to a wider audience, which means that they probably won’t be your highest-ranking pages. But as long as your content is strong enough, you’ll earn links to those pages anyway through your manual efforts to reach out to site owners. And when you do, those links will add credibility and authority to your website and your brand.

SEO often gets a bad reputation for being overly complicated, but it really doesn’t have to be. Neglecting SEO can hurt your business’ visibility and online reputation, so it really isn’t something you should overlook.

The Marketing 360® Content app can help you monitor your organic performance, including keyword rankings, traffic and more. Work with a dedicated Content Marketing Specialist to reach your organic goals. See plans and pricing.

Originally published on 1/14/20

How To Use Negative Reviews To Your Advantage

Turning A Negative Into A Positive

When you come across a negative review for your business, it can be really jarring. So much so that it may even appear to be an emergency situation. But, you can turn off the alarms, because a negative review can be turned around to actually help your business. In this blog, we’ll explore negative reviews, why they happen and how you can make them a good thing.

Why do people leave negative reviews?

In order to understand the benefit of negative reviews, we first need to understand why people leave them in the first place. Of course, there are tons of reasons a person would feel the need to do so, but you can almost always bet it’s for the sake of others to receive financial reimbursement or to get some sort of response from the business owners.

To protect others

Often, people believe that the entire purpose of leaving reviews is to help others decide whether or not they want to give a business their money. This drives people to leave negative reviews, sometimes even for minor issues, if they feel they didn’t get their money’s worth from whatever service you provided. 

For financial reimbursement

Speaking of getting your money’s worth, lots of people will leave reviews because they feel that it will get your attention and result in financial reimbursement. Whether or not that’s something they should actually get should obviously be taken on a case-by-case basis.

To get a response

Whether it be the aforementioned financial reimbursement or simply an apology, many people won’t be satisfied until they get a response to their negative reviews. We have talked about it before, and we’ll touch on it later, but responding properly to a review can make all the difference when it comes to customer retention and reviews.

What makes negative reviews a good thing?

Criticism can always be constructive, whether it starts out that way or you have to twist it into positive change. A negative review doesn’t have to be a death sentence, and it can absolutely be turned into a positive thing for your business. From showing potential customers that the worst that could happen isn’t all that bad to giving you an opportunity to improve your business, they can be a tremendous force for good regarding your business’s reputation.

They represent the worst-case scenario

One thing that is often taken for granted about bad reviews is that they give your customers a glimpse into what it means for the worst to happen with your business. Knowing those possibilities can put your customers at ease and also demonstrates how easily fixable they are. If your worst is better than that of your competitors, you come out on top.

They lead to informed purchasing choices

If your customers get to see both the good and bad of your business, they become empowered to make the best purchasing decisions. If they’re making the best purchasing decision by choosing your business the first time, they are more likely to come back to you time and time again.

They legitimize you

Too many positive reviews can seem suspicious and come across as fake. Because we know that buying fake reviews is a bad idea, it’s simple logic and safe to assume that when legitimate reviews come across as fake, it’s bad news. By letting your customers see that everything isn’t perfect all the time, you build trust with your customers.

They provide opportunity

“Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it.”

That’s a quote from novelist, Joseph Conrad. This is great advice when it comes to responding to reviews. It is vital to always respond to negative reviews not only so that people can see how dedicated your team is to doing right by your customers, but so that you can hopefully retain the customer who left the negative review. Beyond that, any criticism your business receives can help your business to improve.

How to approach negative reviews

So, what’s next after receiving a bad review? Well, you aren’t going to be surprised by what we have to say — it’s all about reputation management. By carving out a good reputation management plan for your business, you can overcome any bad review.

Come up with a gameplan

The best thing you can do when receiving a negative review is to analyze the situation, figure out a course of action and decide how to approach the same situation going forward. If there is a way to respond to your poor review with a solution, focus on that. If there isn’t, make sure that being apologetic and genuine is at the forefront of your mind. In times like these, think “the customer is always right, but maybe we can reach a middle ground.” It is okay to defend your business, as long as you approach it with customer service in mind and the focus falls on correcting information and not fighting, you are completely within your right to challenge any negative reviews that come your way. 

Focus on reputation management

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… over and over again. Offense is the best defense. By creating an impenetrable reputation, you can effectively shield your business from the negative effects of bad reviews while still enjoying the positive. Give your happy customers just as much attention as you would give the unhappy ones. Focus on your business’s social media presence, and make sure to encourage your customers to leave reviews. If you need more advice on reputation management, browse through our blog. We’ve got lots of information for you.

Try Top Rated Local®

With our proprietary Rating Score™ system, you can get an accurate look into where your business stands online… negative reviews and all. This allows you to truly take charge of your business’ reputation management and create a reputation that can weather any bad review. Sign up today and see what Top Rated Local can do to elevate your business.

Originally published on 10/15/19

Build a Strong Reputation for Your Local Business

Every business needs a strong reputation, and having the right reputation management software on your side can go a long way toward building one. Here’s how.

Build a strong reputation for your local business with Marketing 360® Reputation

Request reviews

Reviews are the bedrock of your online reputation, and every small business needs them. But, the downside is that people don’t often write reviews without being prompted — that is, unless they are upset about their experience.

Because people who are unhappy are more likely to write reviews, it can leave you with a skewed reputation without any kind of management on your part. Since most people are happy to write reviews when asked, requesting reviews from all of your customers means a more accurate reflection of your business.

The Marketing 360 Reputation app makes it easy to request reviews. Because it’s integrated with the rest of the marketing platform, you can easily automate review requests through email and text.

Monitor reviews

Getting reviews is important, but it’s just one part of reputation management. People often expect a response to their reviews, especially negative reviews, and they expect you to respond quickly — within a day or two.

Your small business likely has a presence on lots of review sites, like Top Rated Local®, Yelp, Facebook, Google, etc. You need to know when someone posts a new review on any of these sites so that you can monitor your reputation and respond in a timely manner.

Keeping track of your reviews on multiple websites can be a challenge. But with Marketing 360’s reputation management software, you can monitor your reviews on all of the most popular review sites — all from one place.

Build trust with a reviews widget

Trust plays a huge role in the average consumer’s purchasing decisions online. There’s a lot of competition out there, and people want to know that they’re buying a high-quality product or working with a trustworthy business.

Your reviews and online reputation play a big part in building that trust with new and potential customers, and by embedding a reviews widget on your website, you can harness the power of a strong reputation on your website itself.

With the Top Rated Local widget, visitors can check out your reviews from across the web, see your overall ratings and even write reviews — all without having to leave your website.

Gain more control

A small business’s online reputation is incredibly important, but it can be a tough piece of the marketing puzzle because it’s centered around what other people say about your business, which is largely out of your control.

Sure, you can do your part to build a strong reputation by providing great customer service, requesting, responding to and monitoring reviews, keeping your business information up to date, etc., but there’s a lot that’s still out of your control.

Marketing 360 Reputation and Top Rated Local give you more control by allowing you to challenge potentially fake reviews, make some reviews private, make comments on reviews and more.

Streamline your marketing

Reputation management is not an island and shouldn’t be treated as one. It’s a key part of your overall marketing strategy, and it needs to be integrated with the other parts of your strategy, like social media management, local listings management and more.

One of the biggest benefits of building your reputation with the Marketing 360 reputation management app is that it’s built into an all-in-one marketing platform that has everything you need to grow your business, plus a marketing team that can help you maximize your efforts.

With Reputation, not only will you have everything you need to build a strong reputation, but you’ll also have access to a CRM where you can manage your contacts, a social media scheduling tool to keep you active on social media, an easy-to-use website builder and so much more.


Marketing 360 Reputation is the comprehensive reputation management software a small business needs to build a strong, impressive online reputation. Learn more and see plans and pricing.

The Importance of Reputation Management for Restaurants

Originally published on 10/5/19

Reputation management is something that every business owner should be focused on, but if that business is a restaurant, it becomes even more essential.

Every restaurant should prioritize reputation management

In most cities, there is no shortage of options when it comes to restaurants. Some cities are home to a wide variety of restaurants, giving residents a choice of many different flavors, settings and service options to choose from.

With so much competition, restaurants simply can’t afford to let their online reputation fall by the wayside, which means that reputation management should always be high on a restaurant’s priority list.

Reputation management isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing; it’s something that takes consistent effort day in and day out. There are no shortcuts when it comes to reputation management, and you certainly won’t be able to wish away a negative online reputation.

When you invest your time and resources into maintaining your business’s online reputation, you want to know that it will pay off! That’s why we’ve put together this list of a few of the most important reasons why reputation management is vital for restaurants of all shapes, sizes and dining styles.

5 reasons your restaurant needs a good reputation management strategy

#1. Restaurants see a higher volume of clients

Have you ever noticed how restaurants tend to have a far greater number of reviews than, say, an auto shop or a plumber? That’s because restaurants serve a lot more people than a plumber or an auto shop does.

Not only do restaurants serve more people on a typical day than businesses in most other industries, but people who dine at restaurants are also more likely to share their experience online in the form of an online review.

With so many more people frequenting your restaurant and talking about it online in the form of reviews, it makes staying on top of your online reputation that much more pressing.

#2. Reviews are an important part of the dining decision

It’s no secret that a lot of consumers rely on online reviews to guide them when they make decisions on which products to purchase or which company to hire.

While that’s true no matter what industry you’re in, it’s especially true for restaurants, whose customers read more reviews and weigh them more heavily when deciding where to eat.

According to a TripAdvisor survey, 94% of diners from the United States are influenced by online reviews when deciding where to eat, and according to another study, 78% of diners say that reading online reviews factors into whether or not they schedule a reservation at least half the time.

If your overall rating isn’t up to scratch, you could be losing more customers than you might think. It’s estimated that more than 33% of people will not eat at a restaurant if it doesn’t have at least a 4-star rating online.

But the good news is that just a 1-star increase in your Yelp rating alone could translate into a revenue increase of as much as 9%.

#3. There is no shortage of restaurants to choose from

When you compare restaurants to other local businesses, like barber shops, sign companies or financial advisors, you’ll quickly notice that their competition is usually a lot more fierce.

Let’s face it, in your typical city, there are probably a handful of financial advisors, a few barber shops and maybe one or two sign companies, but there’s a new restaurant on every block.

Plus, unlike most other local businesses, restaurants have to compete with fast-food joints, coffee shops, sandwich shops, food trucks and more — not just other comparable restaurants.

All of that competition makes focusing more on online reputation a no brainer for restaurants. People overwhelmingly trust online reviews, and if you have a solid online reputation behind your business, it gives people an incentive to try you out over your competition.

#4. Focusing on your reputation will help your website get noticed

If you are the owner of a Mexican restaurant that specializes in street tacos, and someone googles, “street tacos near me,” you want your restaurant to be the first thing that pops up in the SERP (search engine results pages).

Of course, people make decisions about where they want to eat based on many different things, but it can only help to be ranked near the top of the results. After all, if you’re not on that first page of Google, you may as well not exist on the internet at all.

SEO (search engine optimization) and reputation management are two sides of the same coin, and when you focus on one, it benefits the other.

Every time someone mentions your restaurant in a review or uses a relevant keyword to describe their experience, it helps to boost your visibility in organic search results.

Not only will managing your business’ online reputation help your website outrank your competitions’ websites, but it will also help to push down any negative reviews further in the results.

#5. Reputation management will help you catch and respond to negative reviews promptly

Negative reviews can have a big impact on any business, but in the restaurant industry, negative reviews can make or break success completely, particularly negative reviews about the cleanliness of a restaurant.

According to one survey, approximately 75% of consumers say that they will not patronize or visit a restaurant that has negative reviews about cleanliness.

Negative reviews can have an especially negative effect on restaurants as opposed to businesses in other industries, and if you let a negative review go unchecked, it will only make the problem worse.

We’ve said it time and time again in our blog, but the fact remains that, while you can’t control what your customers say in online reviews, you can control how you respond to it.

Responding to negative reviews is a great way to turn a negative situation into a positive one, but it’s important that you don’t wait too long to respond.

People expect a response promptly, and the longer you allow a negative review to go unchecked, the more damaging it can be to your business’ online reputation.

When you take an active role in managing your business’ online reputation, you’ll be able to catch and respond to negative reviews much quicker.


 

Get your business listed on Top Rated Local® today!

There are many aspects to an effective reputation management strategy, but one of the best things you can do to get started without having to spend a whole lot of your time or money is to claim your listing on Top Rated Local, thus, becoming a Top Rated Local restaurant in your area!

There are so many reasons to become a Top Rated Local restaurant — you’ll get real-time notifications when you receive reviews, monthly email updates on your overall reputation, the ability to reply to Top Rated Local reviews, a prioritized profile ranking on Google, a boost to your Rating Score™ and a Top Rated Local badge that you can display on your website to build trust and give customers a direct link to your reviews — just to name a few of the many benefits.

And the best part is that you get all of this for free! Become a Top Rated Local restaurant today!

How to Nail Online Reputation For Your Nail Salon

Your online reputation says a lot about your nail salon

Word of mouth is still a powerful form of advertising, but these days, it’s being replaced by online reviews more and more. Let’s face it. Instead of asking friends and family for recommendations on where to get their nails done, most people will simply do a quick Google search.

Making sure that your business stands out online is a huge part of separating yourself from your competition, and that means that you need to learn how to nail your nail salon’s online reputation.

Managing your business’s online reputation will take time, energy and consistent effort on your part. And even then, it’s not always easy to manage, especially if it’s new territory for you. Luckily, though, with a little know-how, getting your nail salon’s online reputation right can be much simpler.

Tips to help you nail your nail salon’s online reputation

#1. Claim your listings

You don’t necessarily have to pay to get your nail salon listed on a variety of review sites. In fact, it probably already is! And the first step of managing your salon’s online reputation should consist of determining where your business is already listed, claiming your salon’s existing listing and signing up for as many relevant review sites as you can.

Why is it important to claim your listing?
  • Simply having your business exist on multiple review sites is a great start, but your job is far from done — you also need to claim your listing. Often, when a listing is left unclaimed on review sites, the information that’s available may be outdated, incorrect or, in some cases, missing altogether. So whether the listing still has your old address or it’s missing your phone number, claiming it will allow you to update the information. You could also add photos and other media to make your listing stand out more.
  • Additionally, claiming your business makes it easier for prospective clients to find your business on a variety of different review platforms, and in most cases, it gives you the ability to actually respond to the reviews your business gets on the platform.

#2. Let your customers know where your salon is listed

Now that your business is listed and your listing is claimed on a variety of review sites, it’s time to start generating more reviews for your salon. The more reviews you have, the better, and it’s even better when your reviews are more recent.

When people are checking out a business online, they typically won’t just read one review and more on. They’ll read several different reviews, and in order for those reviews to be relevant to their potential experience with your business, they need to be recent.

In fact, a lot of people won’t even pay attention to a review if it wasn’t left within the last few weeks. This means that generating reviews for your nail salon needs to be something you focus on consistently and continuously.

How can you generate more reviews for your nail salon?
  • Let your clients know where you’re listed – Hang a sign in your salon indicating the different places your clients can leave you a review. But keep in mind that the last thing a client is going to do is to go through the process of signing up for a Yelp account or an Angie’s List account in order to write a review for your business. If your business is also listed on a platform where they already have an account, like Facebook or Google, it’ll make it much easier for them to leave a review for you. This is another reason why it’s important to get your business listed and claimed on a variety of review sites.
  • Ask for reviews – Asking for reviews can be kind of a grey area, depending on the review site in question and how you go about doing it. However, there is one thing that’s crystal clear about asking for reviews — it works! The vast majority of your customers won’t think to leave a review for your salon on their own, but if you ask, they are more than willing. But it’s important to keep in mind that asking for reviews is not the same as incentivizing them, and you should never promise a discount or anything else in exchange for a five-star review.
  • Send follow-up emails – Requesting reviews in-person is incredibly effective, but we get it, it’s not the first thing on your mind when you’re with a client. When you’re with a client, you’re focused on providing them with the very best manicure or pedicure possible — not badgering them to write a review for you. That’s why sending follow-up emails the next day can be a great option.

#3. Respond to your online reviews

While generating reviews is essential, simply having reviews isn’t enough to effectively manage your nail salon’s online reputation; you also have to respond to them. Reviews are one-sided, and they’re not always an honest or accurate portrayal of the kind of service you offer your clients.

That can be incredibly frustrating, but when you take the time to respond to your nail salon’s reviews, you can share your side of the story and set the record straight.

It’s important to note that there’s a right way and a wrong way to respond to reviews. If you respond to a review — even a negative one — in the right way, you can show off your customer service chops and potentially even win back the client in the process. But if you respond in the wrong way, you may come across as petty or immature, which could not only mean losing that individual customer for life but a lot of other potential customers as well.

What’s the right way to respond to reviews?
  • Respond quickly, but give yourself a minute to breathe – When a client leaves you a review, they expect a response from you in a timely manner, but if the review has upset you, it can sometimes help to give yourself a few minutes to breathe and collect your thoughts. Some assertions made in reviews can be downright insulting, and it’s normal to get upset when someone is lying about your business online, but if you get caught up in the moment and let your emotions guide your response, it’ll only make the problem worse.
  • Respond to every review – It’s absolutely essential to respond to negative reviews, but did you know that it’s just as important to respond to five-star reviews? Whether the review is negative or positive, the client took time out of their day to write it, and you need to honor that by taking the time to thank them for sharing their feedback. This also ensures that your clients know that their feedback has been heard.
  • Take the conversation out of public view – It won’t look good for your business if you have a public argument on Google or Facebook with a client. You’ll only make yourself look bad. That’s why, when you’re responding to a negative review, you should apologize and offer the client to call you or email you personally to discuss the matter.

#4. Check-in with your clients while they’re in the shop

A big part of managing your nail salon’s online reputation actually happens in person in your salon. Not every review will be an honest reflection of a client’s experience in your nail salon, but most of them will be, which means that your nail salon’s online reputation is a reflection of the kind of service you offer in your salon. One of the best things you can do to manage it is to make customer service your main focus every day.

Sometimes, you might think you’re doing everything right and the experience is still not what the client wanted or expected. That’s why it’s important to keep a pulse on the situation while it’s happening by checking in with your clients to ensure that they’re satisfied throughout the entire experience.

You should also make it a point to ask for feedback in person after you’ve completed a manicure or pedicure. You may even try surveying your clients.

In-person feedback is great because it allows you to solve an issue before it becomes a negative online review that the entire world can see, and it demonstrates to your clients that you truly care about what they think of your salon. The goal of checking in at regular intervals in person is to ensure that they are happy when they walk out of your door — which should be your number one priority with every customer interaction.

#5. Be active on social media

Most businesses think of their website as their ultimate home base online, but it’s actually just one of the many places where you can connect with both your existing and potential clients online. In fact, one of the best places to connect with people is through social media!

Social media is a great place to show off your work and let people know what kind of results people will get when they choose your nail salon, but with a little know-how, it’s also a great place to expand your client base and community.

How do you expand your client base with social media?
  • Focus on the right platforms – All social media platforms aren’t made equally, and while you should be listed and have a presence on a variety of platforms, your main focus should be on the platforms that your client case uses the most. What’s the best way to know what platforms those are? All you have to do is ask!
  • Show off your work – The common saying — “a picture is worth 1,000 words” — is especially true when it comes to social media. While you can and should use text to communicate on social media, almost nothing is more powerful than an image, except for videos, that is, which is another great medium for showing off your work.
  • Post often – Posting on social media isn’t something you can just do once. You have to keep at it on a regular, consistent basis in order to make an impact and grow your online reputation to what you want it to be. Posting regularly on social media will also help to improve the social media optimization of your website, leading to better organic rankings and more visibility.
  • Engage with your audience – Making connections with other people is one of the best things you can do for the success of your nail salon, and that’s just as true on social media as it is in person. Make it a point to always respond to any comments you get on social media, and don’t be afraid to ask for permission to share your clients’ nails or stories on social media as well.

#6. Display reviews on your website

When you get a glowing, five-star review, it’s normal to want to shout about it from the mountaintops. There are so many ways to display your reviews so that more people can see them, but one of the best things you can do is to display them on your website.

A good client review is a great thing to display prominently on your website, and when people see it, it will help to establish trust and comfort in your nail salon.

There are two basic ways that you can add reviews to your website. One option is simply to copy/paste the review, which is good, but the most effective way to display reviews is with a reviews widget. When you copy/paste, you can only display one review, but when you embed a review widget on your site, you’ll add new, dynamic review content to your site on a regular basis.

Take control of your nail salon’s online reputation with Top Rated Local®

Top Rated Local is not your average review site. Our algorithm collects reviews from a variety of review sites to provide you with an overall Rating Score™ for your nail salon, which will give you a good idea of how you’re doing across the board — instead of just on one single review site.

In addition to helping you get an understanding of your nail salon’s overall online reputation, signing up for Top Rated Local comes with a long list of benefits for business owners, including real-time notifications when you get reviews, the ability to respond to reviews, prioritized profile ranking on Google, monthly email updates about your salon’s reputation, a Top Rated Local badge to help you display reviews on your website and so much more.

Don’t wait. Become a Top Rated Local nail salon today!

Originally published 11/7/19

Ethics and Reputation Management

An ethical approach to reputation management

Word of mouth has always been one of the main ways small businesses have gotten their name out and grown. While the value of word of mouth is undeniable, online reputation is playing a bigger and more prominent role than ever in how a business is seen by its potential customers.

One of the key functions of your online reputation is offering a presentation of your company, and ideally, giving customers a reason to trust you. Trust plays a huge role in whether or not a potential customer will choose you over any other business. In this day and age, trust is one of the most important things your business can have.

In a 2013 study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, customers identified authenticity as one of the top qualities that would attract them to a brand, and according to BrightLocal, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews from other customers just as much as they would recommendations from peers. In other words, a bad reputation, or no reputation, can kill your business.

It is important to navigate the world of online reputation management in a way that is viewed as ethical. Ethics is defined as the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity. With that in mind, there are some simple ways to stay on top of your online reputation while acting in a way that is also ethical.

Here are five simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to managing your online reputation ethically.

Don’t

Assume your reputation will speak for itself

It’s entirely possible that you’re the best at what you do, you have incredible employees and your customers have absolutely loved and benefited from your service.

While all of that can be true, if you are not actively monitoring and promoting your online reputation, you will stay practically invisible to a large potential audience. When a potential client first discovers your business, they will be quick to make judgments and buying decisions based on what they find online.

At the end of the day, your reputation isn’t going to speak for itself. If you don’t showcase a strong online presence, that potential client is just going to turn the other way. One easy and ethical way to start promoting your business is by asking the people that have loved your service to leave you some feedback online.

Create fake reviews

While this one seems like it should be a no-brainer, fake reviews are actually, sadly, pretty common and definitely unethical.

This one goes two ways — don’t create fake negative reviews for a competitor, and don’t create fake positive reviews for yourself. This shady tactic is not only unethical, but it’s also not legal.

According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), online endorsements cannot be misleading, cannot publish fake or unfounded claims, and must disclose any relationship or connection between the reviewer and the company. The cost of violating these guidelines could be steep since the FTC has the legal authority to charge significant fines or even shut down a business.

In one case in 2017, the FTC fined a car dealer in California $3.6 million for encouraging its employees to pose as customers and post fake positive reviews about the company.

Create negative content about your competitors

In a continuation of the last point, keep in mind that creating fake reviews is certainly unethical, and sometimes illegal. It is absolutely not worth risking your business to trash talk the competition.

When it comes to defamation and libel, the traditional rules apply to online content, which means that leaving fake negative comments for a competing business is likely going to get you into way more trouble than it’s worth.

If you want to do something that is actually beneficial to your business, take a look through your competitors’ actual negative reviews and see if the ways they are failing are things that your company can excel in. For example, if their customers have commented about their cold and unwelcoming waiting room, you can really stand out by offering a comfortable and fun space for your clients to hang out in!

By monitoring actual feedback instead of inventing fake feedback, you might end up learning something valuable about what your potential customers are looking for.

Spam

Spamming, or ‘spamdexing’ the internet, with lackluster or false content can have an effect on search results and your ranking in them, and is definitely an unethical practice.

There are many ways to create content spam or link spam, many of which are deceptive. Algorithms are used by the major search engines in order to figure out where to rank a website by figuring out what keywords and category the website is relevant to.

Some businesses operate under the idea that any content is good content and will create spam content in the form of articles or blogs that, to a reader, will look like garbage, but to an algorithm, might be full of keywords that might boost the website’s standing.

Try to erase the past

There is a false notion out there that managing your online reputation means getting rid of the mistakes or criticisms your business has run into, and instead, showing the public a flawless and perfected version of your business.

While you do want to highlight the good, it’s unethical to simply pretend the bad doesn’t exist, or to try and hide it from the world. Besides, the ‘delete’ button isn’t going to wipe you or your mistakes from people’s memories.

Do:

Practice transparency

Trust is everything for small business, and one simple way to build trust is to offer transparency to your audience. By offering transparency in your business, you are showing your clients that your business is open, honest and worth trusting.

One study found that 94 percent of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency. If you are willing to be upfront about your practices, you are that much more likely to gain bought-in, loyal customers. If you can’t offer it, potential customers can all too easily continue their search until they find a company they are happy to place their trust in.

Establish your business’s core values

This is one simple way to show your audience the kinds of things that are important to you as a company. It can also help to make sure your employees are aware of the kind of business you are, and how to act according to the values you establish.

When your employees and your potential clients understand what you stand for, it helps them to decide if you are worth investing time and money in.

Learn from your mistakes, and from the mistakes of others

Accepting feedback and doing something about it is a responsible and professional way to handle your business. Customers will take notice that you care about their experience and are not too proud to learn and grow.

In some cases, making a change after receiving negative feedback will make you and your business look even better than if nothing had been wrong in the first place!

People respect someone who can learn and change, and customers certainly want to feel heard, appreciated and valued. You can also learn from the mistakes of your competitors by seeing where they are falling behind in reviews and focusing on being great in those areas.

Publish valuable content

Content marketing is one of the best ways to add value to your business. By creating content, you are able to share information with your clients and become known as an expert in your field.

When you share quality content, you make it clear that you are knowledgeable, useful and worth following. The things you share are able to help you connect with your audience, establishing a relationship based on trust and familiarity. If you want to be seen and remain relevant, you need to participate in content marketing.

Stay active

Keep in mind that consistency is key when it comes to marketing your business and keeping up with your reputation. Maintain a schedule when it comes to posting content, checking your reviews and responding to your reviews.

Again, this links to trustworthiness. Show your audience that their time matters by showing them consistency and excellence in all you do.


Start building a strong reputation the ethical way by becoming a Top Rated Local® business today. And, learn how Marketing 360® can help you manage your online reputation like a pro.

Originally published 11/18/19

A Beginner’s Guide to SEO for Local Businesses

These days, it’s not enough just to have a website; you need to make sure that your website gets found!

Ensure that your local business gets found

Having a website is a must for any local business in this day and age. People search for just about everything you can think of online, and that’s not a trend that will die down any time soon.

However, simply having a website is only the first step toward success; you also need to make sure that your website will be found. It could even be argued that, if your website isn’t among the top search results for relevant keywords, it might as well not even exist.

According to searchenginepeople, around 75% of clicks go to the first page of results in organic searches, with 33% going to the first position, 15% going to the second position and 9% going to the third position.

SEO is a vital part of reputation management.

If you’ve read many of our Top Rated Local® blogs, then we don’t need to tell you how important your business’s online reputation is to your success, and you may be wondering where SEO (search engine optimization) ties into it. The truth is that SEO and reputation management go hand in hand, and you can’t really have one without the other.

Did you know that customer reviews can actually help you rank higher in the SERP (search engine results pages)? Did you know that claiming and optimizing your listings can help to improve your rankings as well? Did you know that, while you can’t always control what other people say about your business online, you can work to ensure that the top search results for your business name are your website and social media pages instead of negative press?

Start taking control of your business’s online reputation by implementing a local SEO strategy.

5 beginner SEO tips for local businesses

#1. Get started with Google My Business.

The first and most important thing a local business can do from an SEO standpoint is to create their listing on Google My Business, and then to optimize it.

Your Google My Business listing is what ensures that your business ranks in the maps result for local, “near-me” searches.

This is incredibly important for any local business, but especially for those that have brick and mortar locations where clients or customers can visit you, like flower shops, restaurants, jewelry stores, etc.

Your business’s listing on Google will often be the first thing prospective customers see when they come across your business online, so in addition to creating a listing on Google My Business, you also need to optimize your listing.

Optimizing your Google My Business page means adding photos, posting about upcoming events and promotions, updating your business information, gathering reviews and making your page as complete and as active as possible.

What if there’s already a Google My Business listing for your business? Don’t worry; this sometimes happens. And as long as you have the authorization to manage the listing, you can request that the ownership be transferred through Google.

#2. Create and/or claim listings on local directories and review sites

The more websites your business is listed on, the more exposure your website — and your business — will get. Plus, when your contact information is listed accurately and consistently across many different websites, it ensures that your customers are able to get ahold of you when they need to, and it will help to improve your website’s standing in the rankings.

When you go to create a listing on sites, like Top Rated Local, you may find that a profile or listing already exists. If that’s the case, it’s advisable to claim the listing as your own. This will allow you to update the contact information, respond to any reviews you get on the platform and, on some websites, to write a few words about who you are and what you do.

Consistency across listings will also help to build trust with prospective clients, and it makes it easier to get reviews from your clients because they’ll have a higher chance of already having a profile set up on a site you’re listed on.

Does the idea of updating listings across a plethora of directories and review sites seem daunting? Luckily, there are plenty of citation building services out there that can simplify the process for you, like Marketing 360®’s Listings app, which will help you easily get your business listed on more than 50 local directories, sites and apps.

#3. Publish local-friendly content on your website

If you’re not new to our blog, then you’ve probably seen the phrase, “Content is king,” more than once. That’s because, in terms of SEO, absolutely nothing beats consistently publishing quality content on your website. And when you want your business to rank locally, it pays to learn how to write local-friendly content. Here are a few local-friendly blog topics you could write about:

  • Customer case studies and success stories – If you have a great success story with a happy client, ask them for permission to share it online! Case studies are an amazing way to show off how much of an impact your service or product can make for real-life customers and you can add in the local flavor by adding in relevant details about the location.
  • Volunteer work and local causes – Giving back will not only make you feel good; it will make you look good, too. And, it makes for great, local content because it helps you demonstrate your love for your local community.
  • Local partnerships – Lots of businesses could benefit from partnering with other local businesses. For example, a pet groomer may partner with a veterinarian to get referrals, or the other way around. If you partner with any local businesses, it will make a great, local blog topic.

#4. Don’t skip the on-site basics

Setting your website up for SEO success is a little more involved than you might first think, but it will be worth it.

These are called the on-site basics, and they consist of a variety of small, on-page tasks to improve your website’s ranking. Here are a few of the on-site basics you should complete on your website for a better ranking in the SERP:

  • Optimize title tags and meta descriptions – Title tags and meta descriptions are what people see in the SERP when your website comes up. Optimizing your title tag and meta description with your location (or the areas you serve) will help to improve your rankings in the SERP, as well as your click-through rate. Did you know that pages with meta descriptions rank an average of 5.8% higher than pages that don’t?
  • Add alt image tags to your photos – Part of mastering SEO includes getting as many keywords onto your website as you can, and adding alt image tags to your photos could give your business a small bump in the rankings.
  • Have a unique page for each location – Does your business have multiple locations? If so, it’s important to have a unique page on your website for every individual location.

#5. Build links to your website

The more links that point to your website, the better, as link building will help to improve your business’s rankings in the SERP. This is another reason why it’s important to get your business listed across a variety of directories and social media sites. Here are a few tips to help you build local links that point to your website:

  • Utilize your partners – If you partner with other local businesses, this is a great opportunity to get some links pointed to your website. Reach out to the local businesses you partner with, offer to promote them on your website and ask that they do the same.
  • Sponsor organizations and events – Most organizations and event planners will publish information about their sponsors with links to their websites.
  • Send out press releases – If you’ve got an announcement, creating a local press release is a great way to spread the word about it, and as a bonus, you’ll get a host of new links pointing back to your site.
  • Write some guest posts – As a business owner, chances are, you’re a subject matter expert in whatever industry you’re in, which means that you have a lot of knowledge to share. Offering to write guest posts for local bloggers with an audience that might be interested in what you have to say is an excellent way to flex your writing skills and gain some links for your business.

Get listed or claim your listing with Top Rated Local!

Now that you know the importance of getting listed and how it can help improve your business’s rankings in the SERP, it’s time to create/claim your Top Rated Local listing today! Learn more about the benefits of becoming a Top Rated Local business, and sign up for free!

Originally published 11/23/19

Reputation Management No-Nos That Will Put You on the Naughty List

Want to stay on the nice list (at least as far as your business’s online reputation is concerned)?

Even small reputation management mistakes can be difficult to bounce back from

Your business’s online reputation is one of the most important things in for your current and future success, but unfortunately, it can be an incredibly fragile thing that can easily get damaged by even the smallest mishap.

Without knowing it, you could undo months or even years of hard work, and it may take just as long to build it back up to where it was.

Staying on the “nice list,” as far as your business’s online reputation is concerned, is something that every business owner should strive for, but it can be easier said than done, especially if you’re not in the know about how damaging even small mistakes can be to your online reputation, or  even what those mistakes are in the first place.

That’s why we’ve come up with this quick guide to common reputation management no-nos that can land you on the naughty list this holiday season.

5 common online reputation management mistakes that will land your business on the naughty list

Mistake #1. Failing to claim your business listings

Failing to claim your business listings is a rookie mistake that can leave people frustrated and leave negative comments about your business unchecked.

Whether you’re signed up for local directories and review sites or not, chances are high that your business has a listing on them. These listings are often automatically pulled in by algorithms, but the catch is that the information pulled about a business may not be the right information.

Businesses may move to a new location, switch their phone number or even go through a name change — all of which can get lost in translation on listing sites. Claiming your listing on these sites will give you the ability to update the information that already exists about your business.

This helps to create more cohesion for your brand across the web, and it also helps to ensure that, no matter where a prospective customer finds you — on your website, on Google, on Yelp, etc. — they won’t have to deal with inaccurate contact information, which means that they’ll actually be able to get ahold of you.

Another great reason to claim your business listings is that it gives you a greater ability to manage and respond to online reviews. Some of these sites allow you to flag or get fake or inauthentic reviews taken down, but at the very least, they all give you the ability to respond to negative reviews, which can often be a much more effective alternative to getting them taken down.

Mistake #2. Buying reviews and/or creating fake reviews

Most business owners understand how important it is to generate reviews on a regular basis, but getting their clients to actually write reviews can be awkward and challenging.

For one, every review site has its own views on asking for reviews. Some sites, like Yelp, consider asking for reviews a definite black-hat tactic, and if you’re caught incentivizing reviews, it can lead to consequences.

Other sites consider asking for reviews to be just fine, as long as you’re not bribing clients in exchange for review or dictating what the review should say or how many stars you should be given.

All of this murkiness can leave some businesses desperate for reviews but unsure of how to get them, and it can make buying reviews a very tempting prospect.

Buying reviews may seem like a quick, easy way to get ahead of the competition, but if you’re caught — and you likely will be — the consequences are probably more than you bargained for.

Purchasing fake reviews is absolutely against Google’s guidelines, and if they catch you breaking the rules, they don’t mess around. In fact, Google can take down your business listing completely, and if your business isn’t listed on Google, it may as well not exist at all.

Furthermore, buying fake reviews is illegal, and it can result in fines.

Want to learn more about the consequences of buying fake reviews? Check out our previous blog.

Mistake #3. Failing to respond to reviews

Responding to reviews is something that every business should make a point to do.

Think about how difficult it can be to get a customer to leave a review in the first place. You know how busy their schedule is — which is why you were so nervous about asking for a review in the first place — and it’s important to recognize the fact that they took a few minutes out of their busy day to write a review for you. This is especially a sacrifice during the holidays when we are all running around like a bunch of beheaded chickens.

The reviewer has a lot going on, but they still took a few minutes to give your business feedback online, and whether that feedback is negative or positive, when you take the time to respond back to them, you’re honoring that time sacrifice they’ve made for you.

You don’t necessarily have to include a whole lot in your response, and you’d be surprised at how far a simple, “Thank you for taking the time to write a review about the business!” will get you.

Another reason why responding to reviews is essential is that it can help to set the record straight about anything inaccurate or misleading in reviews, and it also helps to protect against the damage that fake reviews can cause.

It can be very difficult to get reviews taken down — even if you can prove that they’re fake — and often, a business owner’s best and only course of recourse is to set the record straight in their response.

There is one stipulation when it comes to responding to reviews — you need to do it right, especially if it’s a negative review. Calling out a review as fake or getting defensive in your response will only accomplish making you look petty and unprofessional.

The best response to a negative review will include an apology (but not necessarily an acceptance for wrongdoing in the event of a fake review), an explanation of how you’ll make it right and an invitation for the reviewer to discuss the matter further via phone or email.

If you need to, give yourself a day or two to cool off before responding to an unfair review.

Mistake #4. Attacking a competitor’s reputation online

Just as buying fake reviews to post about your business is wrong and can be extremely consequential, so is attacking a competitor’s online reputation by leaving fake reviews.

However, this is something that a lot of small businesses are tempted by. After all, they don’t have the same resources as their larger or more established rivals may have; how else are you supposed to even the playing field?

At the end of the day, attacking your competitor’s online reputation through fake reviews will only come back to bite you.

For one, fake reviews left by competitors can be easier to spot than you might think. Even if you think that you’re being sneaky and are one step ahead of everyone, chances are high that you’ll be found out.

At the very least, most businesses keep records of the clients they’ve helped, and if there is no record that they ever helped you, it could easily lead to being called out, which will, again, leave you looking petty and mean.

At the extreme end, if you’re caught leaving a fake review for a competitor, your business could end up being sued. Lawsuits are extremely expensive, not to mention an emotional nightmare. Plus, not a lot of businesses have thousands of dollars lying around to cover legal costs, and a lawsuit could easily be a small business’s undoing.

It’s important to fully understand the consequences before you make the mistake of dissing an online competitor. Instead of trying to knock the competition down a notch by attacking them online, a much better alternative is to think about things you can do to make your own online reputation stand out.

The road is longer, but ultimately, it’ll be a much more effective strategy long-term. After all, even if you were able to destroy one competitor, there will always be more, and, chances are, you don’t have the time or resources to take them all down with fake reviews.

Want to learn more about why you should refrain from attacking your competition online? Check out our previous blog.

Mistake #5. Overlooking the importance of face-to-face interactions

A lot of business owners get caught up in the “online” aspect of online reputation management and forget that a business’s online reputation is largely about the kind of face-to-face service they offer each and every day.

While it’s true that a lot of the aspects of maintaining a strong online reputation happens online — i.e. writing blogs, responding to reviews, claiming business listings, SEO (search engine optimization) — the kind of service you provide for your customers in-person is equally as important (if not more so) than your efforts online.

This is why, the first and most important part of building and maintaining a solid online reputation, is what happens day to day in your interactions with clients or customers.

Let’s face it, it really doesn’t matter how good you are at posting on social media, writing blogs or responding to reviews if you don’t have great face-to-face service to back it up. Businesses with the most impressive online reputations understand that it all starts with great customer service in-house.

Refocusing on customer service is a smart move for your business’s reputation, online and offline. Here are a few things you can do to make customer service your business’s top priority once again:

  • Make sure that your employees are all properly trained, and set the right expectations as far as how you would like interactions with customers to look and you want them to behave.
  • Keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to customer interactions. In other words, check-in regularly to ensure that the customer is satisfied every step of the way.
    Follow up after everything is said and done. Sometimes, dissatisfied customers aren’t comfortable telling you that they’re not happy, and you won’t find out until they’ve vented their frustration online in the form of a negative review. By following up, you can help to correct issues before they become one-star reviews.
  • Operate with honesty and transparency. Customers complain about all kinds of things, but no one likes to be surprised by hidden fees and other information. No one wants to feel like the wool is being pulled over their eyes, and you can help to counteract that feeling by making honesty and transparency paramount in your business. It’s better to inform customers of their options than it is to choose one for them, and that’s true even if you firmly believe that you’re choosing the option that’s in their best interest.
  • Follow the Golden Rule. In other words, treat your customers like you would want to be treated yourself — with respect, dignity, honesty and straightforwardness. This is especially important if you work in an industry that regularly deals with people’s most stressful situations, like restoration, moving and funeral services. Put yourself in their shoes, and operate with empathy and compassion.

Want to learn more about the importance of great customer service for your business’s online reputation? If so, check out our previous blog!

Get on the online reputation “nice list” with Top Rated Local®!

These days, it’s essential for a business’s success to have the right kind of online reputation, and we hope that this article will help you know about some of the common online reputation management mistakes businesses commonly make, as well as the potential consequences of making those mistakes.

If you’re looking to take your business off of the naughty list this holiday season, then one of the best things you can do to get started is to get your business listed/claim your business listing on Top Rated Local. It’s easy, free and will help you better manage your online reputation from one convenient place.

Sign up today!

Originally published 12/18/19

Tips To Fix A Broken Reputation

Why your online reputation matters

It is the hope of any business owner that the business they have invested so much time, energy and funding into will be beloved by all and will be known for its reliability, excellent service and quality products or services.

While it’s great to wish a naturally stellar reputation, it’s entirely likely that some kind of trouble will end up finding you, and when that happens, you’ll want to be prepared to recover your reputation and maintain your status as a business people trust.

Warren Buffett once said,

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

We can’t stress enough how important your online reputation is. More and more, people are turning to the internet to do their research before deciding to give their business to companies. When it comes time for them to look into your business, you want to show them that you have the kind of reputation they can trust.

In today’s digital world, blunders and mishaps don’t often stay quiet for long, and once negativity starts showing up publicly, it often starts to expand and multiply. Whether your reputation has taken a small jab or has been knocked back by a solid blow, you’re going to need to do some reputation repair. When the time comes to manage and fix your online reputation, will you know where to begin?

Know that you are not alone. No business is immune to negative reviews or an eventual screw-up. What’s important is that you care and want to make things right. When the idea of repairing your reputation feels overwhelming, know that you have already made a big step in the right direction by simply making the decision to start!

Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you are not the first or last business owner this will happen to.

5 things you can do to fix a broken reputation

#1. Own your past 

There are few things as powerful as a business willing to admit to its faults and make a sincere apology to those affected by the blunder. When you come off as defensive, defiant or irritated, people rarely see you as in control and trustworthy. They see a business that is more concerned about its pride than its customers.

If the hit to your reputation came in the form of a scathing online review, take a minute to think about both what the customer said and what they felt. Chances are, this customer left your business feeling unheard or dissatisfied for a legitimate reason.

Other customers and potential future customers will be able to read, not only this review, but also the way you respond to it. This is where a little humility and sincerity will give you the chance to look good to your audience.

By acknowledging that this customer’s concerns are heard and worth responding to, you show your audience that you care and that you are paying attention. You don’t even necessarily need to confess to any specific grievances.

By saying something along the lines of, “I apologize that you did not get to experience the incredible customer service we hope to provide to each and every one of our patrons. I want to hear more about this visit, get the opportunity to make this right, and show you the kind of service we strive to provide. Please contact me at ___,” you can show this customer, and all potential customers, that you care and are dedicated to providing outstanding service.

By apologizing and showcasing that you have a plan of action to make things right, you come off as strong, reliable and in control of this situation. 

If there is a specific incident that has come up that is harming your reputation, you want to stay ahead of the curve by owning up to what has happened. Be honest from the start, apologize and reiterate what is important to you or what you will do to make things right.

One example would be, “I want to apologize for ___. This is not the way we hope to conduct our business, and we are sorry for anyone who was affected by these actions. We want to recommit ourselves to providing trustworthy service to our customers, who we value so much. Thank you for sticking with us through this, and know that going forward, we will always do what we can to earn your support and be the kind of company you are proud to do business with.”

Looking at a statement like this, your customers will see integrity, compassion and a commitment to them, instead of being left in the dark wondering if you’ll ever mention the incident in question. Being willing to address the concern, taking ownership of your part in it and recommitting yourself to the values your business stands for gives customers a reason to trust you, which is more important now than ever.  

#2. Strengthen your reputation by creating and sharing engaging content

Content marketing is one very powerful way to promote your business because it connects you with your clients, builds up your relationship and boosts your reputation by establishing you as an authority in your field.

Content marketing can be done through a blog, through videos on YouTube or Facebook, by posting to Instagram, by creating infographics and a whole host of other ways. That’s one of the beautiful things about content marketing; there are so many ways to do it that it really can be customized to your business and its strengths. 

Take something as simple as a blog. Many small businesses have found some level of success by using a blog to answer common questions their customers have.  

If you own a house cleaning company, for example, you may think that there’s no way people would be interested in reading about your business, or that the internet is already full of information about your industry.

But chances are, your customers do come to you for advice, or would benefit from seeing some engaging content about how to maintain their glass top stove between deep cleans.

At the very least, creating and sharing information related to your field will put you a step ahead of your local competitors, which is exactly where you want to be! Regular blogging can help you to establish and build relationships with your customers as well as provide them with helpful content.

Blogging is an easy way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. If you use your blog to address common questions your customers have, you provide them with a valuable tool that also showcases the fact that you are listening to their questions and concerns, and that you have a vested interest in helping them.

The kind of trust you can build by blogging about real questions and concerns, in and of itself, is incredibly valuable. People want to give their business to someone they trust and like, and a blog can not only help with this, but it can also help with keeping your customers engaged and interested in your business, even in times when a bad review or PR nightmare has you feeling down. Basically, a blog can help you establish enough of a baseline rapport with your audience to make it harder for them to turn on you in times of trouble. 

Whether it’s blog posts, Facebook videos or well-timed memes, the content marketing you do will not only help get your audience familiar with you and your business, but it will also count as fresh content, meaning the search engine bots will be more likely to look on your site favorably when it comes time to rank your business. 

#3. Smother the bad

You can’t just ignore or erase your bad press or negative reviews, and even if you could, that’s not a business tactic we recommend. Now, this does not extend to fake reviews, which you will want to discredit or get deleted.

We’re talking about the everyday hits a business can be expected to take. While you want to address negative incidents and reviews, you also want to show people that you have more going for you in the form of authentic, positive feedback.

Take a look at where your reputation stands at present. What do your reviews look like? Do you even have any reviews? Are the ones you do have pretty good, but a year old? 

Now might be a good time to reach out to your customers to tell them how much you would value their feedback and let them know how much it would help your business out.

There’s a right way and wrong way to go about this, so make sure that when you are making a push for positive reviews, you are doing so in a way that is authentic and is not incentivizing people to say nice things about you.

When people are checking out at your store, you can say something as simple as, “Would you please leave us some feedback on our Facebook profile? It would really mean a lot to us.”

You’re not begging, or asking for five stars, you are simply telling your customers that their experience with your business is important to you. 

Ideally, more and more people will start to share their feedback in the form of online reviews, giving you some much-needed content for people to base their opinions of your business on. You can also use positive feedback right on the front page of your website.

If you have had any press about your business, make sure it is featured somewhere on your website. Here at Top Rated Local, every business ranked as one of the top five in its category is recognized with a Top Rated Local awards.

By accepting opportunities like this, those businesses now have a valuable asset in the form of positive press, which they can display in their shops, post about on their social media and link to on their websites.

If your business has had any positive press, like an article about your grand opening or a spotlight for the work you’ve done giving back to the community, be sure to display it where people can easily find it! 

#4. Claim your listings and set up social media profiles

You may not be aware, but your business is already listed on review sites all across the internet, including Google, Yelp and Top Rated Local. If you are ready to start managing your online reputation but have no idea where to start, we recommend getting the ball rolling by first claiming all of your business listings.

Claiming your business online is free, easy and there’s no better way to keep ahead of what people are saying about you online. Claiming your business can help to build trust in the eyes of your potential consumers by legitimizing your business, showing your customers that your business is real and giving you the power to make sure that basic information. like your phone number, address and business name, is updated and correct.

This can be a crucial first step in forming trust with your potential customers. If they google your business and call the phone number that is listed, but that number is disconnected or incorrect, they are likely going to think that your business is either closed or unreliable. Neither option is good for business.

Taking your business’s listing off of these sites is not an option, but you do have the option to take control of those listings and give your website an additional SEO boost. Stop a reputation crisis before it begins by keeping up to date and aware of your online presence.

#5. Make reputation management a part of your business plan

With your claimed business listings, an outpouring of creative and engaging content and a commitment to respond to your reviews in a timely and professional manner, it will soon become apparent that you must dedicate time to managing your online reputation and making that a vital part of the way your business operates.

For some, this means carving out a set time of the day to dedicate towards reputation management. For others, it means hiring a full-time content creator, social media manager or PR person. For even more companies, the time investment it would cost them, or the financial investment it would cost to hire a new employee, has them turning to reputation management companies.

There are many reputation management companies out there, so be sure to do your research, ask around and find one that fits your business’s needs. In any case, don’t leave managing your reputation off your radar until it’s in crisis mode. Recognize the importance of understanding and managing your reputation, and come up with a well-thought-out plan of action for the best way your company can stay on top.


We hope you have been inspired to take charge of your online reputation today. One of the easiest ways to get involved is to claim your profile on Top Rated Local. Check it out, and let us help take the stress out of managing your business’s online presence!

Originally published 12/20/19

The Importance Of Reputation Management For Plumbers

Online reputation is vital to a plumber’s success

The world of online reputation management may seem a bit too much for your local, family-owned plumbing company, but it definitely should not be overlooked or brushed off as being only helpful for younger generations.

Let us fill you in on why your online reputation matters and what you can accomplish by taking control of it! By understanding and managing your online reputation, you can gain valuable insight into the minds of your customers, see where your reputation is shining or lacking, and communicate with your current and potential future clients!

What your reviews tell people

Whether for last-minute emergency services or a long-awaited planned project, when it comes time for the average consumer to choose a plumber, most people are going to turn to the internet before deciding who to hire.

As a local business, your online reputation can make or break you. Today, your online reviews hold as much weight as word of mouth has in the past.

In fact, 88-percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they would trust a personal recommendation. While positive reviews can help get your name out and grow your business, negative reviews can result in a bad reputation, which will undoubtedly harm your business.

Your loyal fans, your current customers and an untold number of future potential customers are using online reviews every day to make their purchasing decisions.

Think about it. From the most mundane household products, like sponges and hand soap, all the way up to important services, like optometrists and family doctors, people almost never choose a product or service without doing some research first.

That means that it is more important than ever to stay on top of and manage your online reputation. Think of your reviews as the new word of mouth or referral.

Imagine a potential customer searches for local plumbers and comes across your page and a competitor’s page. Your page has no reviews and theirs has a few positive reviews scattered across Facebook and Google. That customer is most likely going to go with the business that people have recommended through their reviews!

Many times, people are looking for a plumber with some level of urgency, and the average person doesn’t have much, if any, plumbing knowledge. They really rely on those reviews to help them know which business to trust!

Plumbing is a competitive industry, and you can be the best plumber in the city, but if potential customers aren’t told as much by someone other than yourself, they have no reason to believe you.

Check out your competition

Not only can your online reputation give you a leg-up in the industry, but it can also give you some good insight into what customers care about.

Browse through the reviews of some of your competitors. What are the top compliments and criticisms being made about other businesses in your field?

Maybe you hadn’t thought to really focus on communication, but you’ve noticed that that’s one of the things people complain about the most. You can help your business to stand out even more by going out of your way to be the best when it comes to communication!

You commit to responding to all voicemails by the end of the day, you start to send out follow-up emails, and maybe you even set up your employees with a texting service so they can let the customer know when they are on their way. Soon enough, excellent communication skills become something you are known for!

By seeing where others are struggling, you can get a good idea about what is going on in the minds of the consumers, as well as what they value and what tends to bother them the most.

You can also see where you might be outshining your competitors! By reading through the reviews, you might notice that you’re the only local company that keeps getting compliments about your friendly technicians.

You can lean into that when it comes to your branding. Start by saying that customer service is something you’re known for, because at this point, it is, and you have the reviews to back that up!

Make yourself more visible

It is crucial for you to show up as one of the top results when someone searches for businesses in your industry. In fact, it’s been shown that 75-percent of people never scroll past the first page of search engine results!

If you don’t show up on that first page, it’s almost as bad as not showing up at all. If you’re trying to buy your way to the top with keywords and paid ads, get ready to shell out the big bucks.

An easier, and significantly cheaper, way to boost your visibility is through reviews.

Your SEO (search engine optimization) is boosted when you provide original, fresh content, and new customer reviews are a form of content that not only helps by giving you precious feedback, but also helps to get your brand noticed by those algorithms that can push you to the top!

Communicate with your customers

Online or off, there’s no doubt that communication is valued in the service industry.

Online reviews give you a unique platform where you can communicate with your consumer base quickly and publically.

If a negative review comes in, you can quickly address the issue, showing potential customers that you are not only communicative but that you also value customer feedback. In some cases, you can even turn around a bad review by addressing the customer’s concerns and showing them that you care about their experience.


Make managing your reputation easy with Top Rated Local

Plumbers who have been in business for a while will and have a long list of clients probably also have reviews across many different platforms, like Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie’s List, Facebook, and Google — Top Rated Local can help you keep track of where your reputation is by bringing them all to one place!

It has never been easier to take control of your online reputation, and with some help from Top Rated Local, you can quickly get the shining reputation you’ve dreamed of.

Originally published 10/21/19